Our love rhymes with: cub scout, clod-hopper, trouble-shooter, sore thumb. Sitting in the kitchen with our fruit cocktail skin. Who says love can’t last? A little syrupy, yes, a little soft; a can of exploding snakes, yes, a dissolving eros-aspirin. Yes. I could be your silent auction—all that old lady furniture delivered from the house on the hill: velvet drapes, china poodles, chintz, chamber pots on your doorstep. Now & Forever, like an interstate. Why not jackpot everything—imagine those satin pockets in the dead ancestor’s tuxedos. Imagine the cool slide of your hand entering—imagine yourself dressing before gilt mirrors, the wool seams unthreading, the smell of wet sheep, and your hands moistening like pudding cake on fine bona china—it isn’t proper, but could you please pass me that candelabra? I need to check the laundry in the basement. Meanwhile, try to imagine a mansion of fabric against your skin. Already the branches of the family tree have forgotten the itch of your amputated limb. As a precaution, I’ve welded the keys to all our doors into matching bullet-proof vests. Did I say forever? Yes, I guess so, so then you’d better sew all my openings shut with thread pulled from the bed sheets— you’d better bury me beneath you, our hands and feet tied. I want to be trapped by the cage of your ribs as it slowly sinks into mine.
“The fact that I
am writing to you
already falsifies what I
wanted to tell you.
how to explain to you that I
don’t belong to English
though I belong nowhere else”— Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Bilingual Blues: Poems, 1981-1994 (via thehoopoe)
“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life.”—Joseph Campbell (via iseesigils)
Diane christened it the Bean House, Since everything in it came straight from an L.L. Bean Home catalog. It looks out upon two Meadows separated by a stand of trees, and at night, When the heat begins to dissipate and the stars Become visible in the uncontaminated sky, I like to sit here on the deck, listening to the music Wafting from the inside through the sliding patio doors, Listening to the music in my head. It’s what I do: The days go by, the days remain the same, dwindling Down to a precious few as I try to write my name In the book of passing days, the book of water. Some Days I go fishing, usually unsuccessfully, casting Gently across a small stream that flows along beneath Some overhanging trees or through a field of cows. Call it late bucolic: this morning I awoke to rain And a late spring chill, with water dripping from the Eaves, the apple trees, the pergola down the hill. No fishing today, as I await the summation Of my interrupted eclogue, waiting on the rain And rhythms of the world for the music to resume, As indeed it does: all things end eventually, No matter how permanent they seem, no matter how Desperately you want them to remain. And now the sun Comes out once more, and life becomes sweet again, Sweet and familiar, on the verge of summer.
Seven pairs of leopard-skin underpants Flying on the rotary clothes-lines! Oh, look, virgins, How with the shirts and pyjamas they whirl and dance. And think no more, trembling in your own emergence Like butterflies into the light, that tall soft boy Who nightly over his radio crooned and capered Alone in his room in weird adolescent joy Is mother’s boy, softly: has he not slain a leopard?
But more than that: does he not wear its skin, Secretly, daily, superbly? Oh, girls, adore him, For dreaming on velvet feet to slay and to sin He prowls the suburb, the wild things flee before him, He miaous at the leopardesses, and they stop: He is a leopard — he bought himself in a shop.
“The Secret is sacred, but it is also somewhat ridiculous. The practice of the mystery is furtive and even clandestine, and its adepts do not speak about it. There are no respectable words to describe it, but it is understood that all words refer to it or better, that they inevitably allude to it, and thus, in dialogue with initiates, when I have prattled about anything at all, they have smiled enigmatically or taken offense, for they have felt that I touched upon the Secret. In Germanic literature there are poems written by sectarians, whose nominal theme is the sea, say, or the evening twilight; but they are, I can hear someone say, in some measure symbols of the Secret.”—Jorge Luis Borges from The Sect of The Phoenix (p. 165)
The way this heat drips a glass so even indoors you are reminded of what you are hiding from. A ratio of misses to hits, a counting of bruise versus how many can be traced directly back to origin. Even if the bus glows a destination it doesn’t necessarily need to know where they are going; not exactly a science here, not exactly a matter of belonging, just finding a space in which breath comes easiest.
I am trying earnestly to become your freshest exhale. A car accident that you crane to watch but only no one dies. You can come home unemptied. Not even the infant feels anything more than lurch, but I’m wandering into digression, some art may be temporarily removed for various reasons. Up here, I’ve become encased in living out the definition of certain words like resurgence, like tryst, like whirlwind.
A ratio of verb to noun— if I were to take a page from every used book in the city then I bet I’d have you a story. A poem about love at least, or the loss of it, maybe a sea, little deaths of course, a dog, anything you’d want for dinner, some small area of this country we could end up and entirely be exactly alright. To be succinct and know it. To be coarse when the time comes and to spool you back after. So this is what uncurling feels like: you are the first thing I’d like my palms to meet save for a speck of sunlight. This song just started playing in this coffee joint and a man is begging somebody over a certain frequency not to let him go. And suddenly I understand what is meant by empathy.
Perhaps the right word would be entropy if you remain something like a star for daylight and I stay a chilled glass of lemonade to even out. Proper distribution of fingers among other fingers. Would you believe me if I told you there is a brewing of bigger things within? Like walking by the walled off construction site every day for two years unaware of progress but the sound of it still wakes you like jackhammers too early. Like trying to guess when the hole in the mountain will erupt like I love you a million different ways from Sunday—
I could spend the rest of the afternoon searching for the perfect sentence to end you with; if you were a poem that is. Or I could leave you with a couple hundred words like this, a slowly cooling cup of coffee, a bath to run you as warm as skin, couple dozen fistfuls of sand carried twenty blocks as reminder of where I am mostly, a Wednesday unremarkable except for the fact that I am here, I could leave you with that, with this, but if we were being entirely honest here I would tell you how in all truthfulness, in a world of ways to soothe departure, a city full of exit strategy, would tell you how I want more than fingerprints and a wilted sunflower to remain.
I rather like this heat. I could get used to diffusion, could learn to relish the ratio between the thousands of bodies that pass and the only one that sparked enough jolt to make me look up. Directly into the noon sky even. Even in the middle of rush hour. I will not even cup my hands to my brow, I would instead tell you I would rather stay exactly where I am— what’s the word? I know there is a word for this— serenity, contentedness.
I have been waiting to announce this! I have a poem “remixed” in the forthcoming book Chorus (Amazon pre-order link) edited by Saul Williams, Dufflyn Lammers and Aja Monet. Saul Williams is one of my heroes and has been described as the “Poet Laureate of Hip Hop” so it is a huge honour to be one of 100 poets chosen by him to be featured in this book. I don’t know how my poem will read in “remixed” form yet (which is exciting) but it is called 7 Moments of Revolution (link to read it in original form). The book release is 4th September 2012.
After she had swallowed him completely (taste of soap-chalk, ammonia, her mouth smelling like water, like a dog’s mouth), she forgot the vows and how she got there — the stranger’s kohl eyes leading her to the broom closet and his hands festooned with rings.
After all, her husband was a stray dog— in the yard he carried a mirror on his back, his eyes flowering. He spent his days in the city snapping at bees, getting his nose stung. In the evening, he returned with a mouth full of fur.
Sundays, she watched him in the garden swallowing sticks, his own arms, dragging his rear legs like a wedding gown. To him, daffodils were now a bouquet of knives. He snarled, shook his head, left, right, an impatient bride, tried to see himself in the mirror on his back like the bride reaching behind herself for the last button.
Finally, at a cocktail party, he politely leaned over and bit the wrist of a neighbor.
She passed a tray of canapés, saying “The best thing to do is take him out behind the barn and shoot him!” A tinkling of laughter, then doom. Her bangs flipping back like tidal waves.
Truth is: she had been his wife two hours when she selected a new lover— what was his name? ( In the cramped dark fumbling, smell of chlorine, and entire forest of brooms falling) When they were through, a bare bulb exposed the tiny room: he wore a beard, and in the janitor’s sink he washed his hands over and over again like a raccoon.
I cross the street and my skin falls off. Who walks to an abandoned lake? Who abandons lakes? I ask questions to evade personal statements. When you are skinless, you cannot bear to be more vulnerable. With skin, I would say I am in love with Love as in that old-time song crooners like to croon. With skin, I would wear elbow-length opera gloves of pearly satin. Protect my skin. Hide it. There is no skin like my skin. How I miss it — I miss it as I would a knitted bonnet, a pewter teaspoon to stir sugar into hot water. My great passion was my skin. The lover I loved. They don’t sell skin at Wal-Mart. And really, how could I, humanely, buy it? Would you ever give me your skin? This is a terrible world we live in. There are mistakes and batteries littering a junk drawer, where Mother would hide my house keys and Father would store his eyeballs. Do you know Puccini? Do you spill silk at the gorgeous onslaught of love, of Pinkerton’s lurking return? Butterfly had no skin either but you could not tell from the outer left balcony. As I lay in a bed of my dead skin, I dream of Butterfly and what she could have done instead: run away to this little room to lose her aching voice, to listen to the hourly ringing of bells that is really the souring birdsong of a child, skinned and laughing, a child that will never be hers.
On the way there a couple of startled wings fluttered, and that was all. One goes there alone. It is a lofty building made entirely of open spaces, a building which sways all the time, but is never able to fall. The sun, changed into a thousand suns, drifts in through the open slivers. And an inverse law of gravity takes hold in the play of light: this house floats anchored in the sky, and what falls falls upward. It makes you turn around. In the woods it is all right to grieve. It’s all right to see the old truths, which we usually keep packed away in the luggage. My roles down there in the deep places fly up, hang like dried skulls in an ancestor hut on a remote Melanesian island. A childlike light around the terrifying trophies. Woods are mild that way.
On My Third Anniversary in New Jersey, Noelle Kocot
It’s the fern beyond the wind, the classic Eruptions. Night is a funnel that is overcome. Violence of signs beyond the pale. Stasis Has its own way, the hard work, the violence. Convalesce, convalesce in the green green World, in which you could hardly walk, But that was before, before life set its rhythms In its way. Passion is confused by silence. Gone are the slow horses, the wetness and the Going forth, that’s made me whole again. A small room, a sandwich in the moonlight, Intermittently, I see a hummingbird at The flower box, and the great church bells Ring. This is the beginning. I lived in a small Room long ago. The soft earth beckoned me Here, and I stayed. There is a dearness about All of this, and though I want to be hungry Again, I find that I am filled. My legs fly into Summer, into the morning air and the leaves. So this is what peace is, no need to spiral In the twilight, no need to ask, season after Season, where are you now? And, should I go?
Ignorance will carry me through the last days, the blistering cities, over briny rivers swarming with jellyfish, as once my father carried me from the car up the narrow steps to the white bed, and if I woke, I never knew it.
XXXV. "The moonlight behind the tall branches" by Fernando Pessoa
The moonlight behind the tall branches The poets all say is more Than the moonlight behind the tall branches.
But for me, who do not know what I think— What the moonlight behind the tall branches Is, beyond its being The moonlight behind the tall branches, Is its not being more Than the moonlight behind the tall branches.
Because adults are victims of language, each word being a different virus that attacks the mind, they are driven by these carefully evolved invaders to create order, a condition in which word germs thrive. Gradually, as the disease spreads, even children and cats succumb to the imposed regimes, bludgeoned into line, the pets’ high-spirited endeavors discouraged by the attachment of bells or small tables. Meanwhile children turn imperceptibly into their parents, a clever process that guarantees the controlling germs can hop like fleas across generations.
The garden is also a reminder of the niche carved out for terror in our heads and from which wild cries were long ago turned on an internal lathe into language, later to be turned yet again into chandeliers and chaises longues. While these carved descendants of prehistoric guttural calls are now largely silent (seats cushioned, castors oiled), vowels and consonants are recombined to discuss history and wysteria, falling about us like autumn leaves.