What can I do, I have dreamed of you so much
What can I do, lost as I am in the sky
What can I do, now that all
the doors and windows are open
I will whisper this in your ear
as if it were a rough draft
something I scribbled on a napkin
I have dreamed of you so much
there is no time left to write
no time left on the sundial
for my shadow to fall back to earth
lost as I am in the sky
What can I do, all the years that we talked
and I was afraid to want more
What can I do, now that these hours
belong to neither you nor me
Lost as I am in the sky
What can I do, now that I cannot find
the words I need
when your hair is mine
now that there is no time to sleep
now that your name is not enough
What can I do, if a red meteor wakes the earth
and the color of robbery is in the air
Now that I dream of you so much
my lips are like clouds
drifting above the shadow of one who is asleep
Now that the moon is enthralled with a wall
What can I do, if one of us is lying on the earth
and the other is lost in the sky
What can I do, lost as I am in the wind
and lightning that surrounds you
What can I do, now that my tears
are rising toward the sky
only to fall back
into the sea again
What can I do, now that this page is wet
now that this pen is empty
What can I do, now that the sky
has shut its iron door
and bolted clouds
to the back of the moon
now that the wind
has diverted the ocean’s attention
now that a red meteor
has plunged into the lake
now that I am awake
now that you have closed the book
Now that the sky is green
and the air is red with rain
I never stood in
the shadow of pyramids
I never walked from village to village
in search of fragments
that had fallen to earth in another age
What can I do, now that we have collided
on a cloudless night
and sparks rise
from the bottom of a thousand lakes
To some, the winter sky is a blue peach
teeming with worms
and the clouds are growing thick
with sour milk
What can I do, now that the fat black sea
now that I have refused to return
my borrowed dust to the butterflies
their wings full of yellow flour
What can I do, I never believed happiness
could be premeditated
What can I do, having argued with the obedient world
that language will infiltrate its walls
What can I do, now that I have sent you
a necklace of dead dried bees
and now that I want to
be like the necklace
and turn flowers into red candles
pouring from the sun
What can I do, now that I have spent my life
studying the physics of good-bye
every velocity and particle in all the waves
undulating through the relapse of a moment’s fission
now that I must surrender this violin
to the sea’s foaming black tongue
now that January is almost here
and I have started celebrating a completely different life
Now that the seven wonders of the night
have been stolen by history
Now that the sky is lost and the stars
have slipped into a book
Now that the moon is boiling
like the blood where it swims
Now that there are no blossoms left
to glue to the sky
What can I do, I who never invented
and who dreamed of you so much
I was amazed to discover
the claw marks of those
who preceded us across this burning floor
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
In the Kashmir Mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.
Were there flowers there? I asked.
This is what he told me:
In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn’t struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.
They laid her in the road
and stoned her.
The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.
The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.
Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.
I take the long walk up the staircase to my secret room.
Today’s big news: they found Amelia Earhart’s shoe, size 9.
1992: Charlie Christian is bebopping at Minton’s in 1941.
Today, the Presidential primaries have failed us once again.
We’ll look for our excitement elsewhere, in the last snow
that is falling, in tomorrow’s Gospel Concert in Springfield.
It’s a good day to be a cat and just sleep.
Or to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine.
Jesus called the sons of Zebedee the Sons of Thunder.
In my secret room, plans are hatched: we’ll explore the Smoky Mountains.
Then we’ll walk along a beach: Hallelujah!
(A letter was just delivered by Overnight Express—
it contained nothing of importance, I slept through it.)
(I guess I’m trying to be “above the fray.”)
The Russians, I know, have developed a language called “Lincos”
designed for communicating with the inhabitants of other worlds.
That’s been a waste of time, not even a postcard.
But then again, there are tree-climbing fish, called anabases.
They climb the trees out of stupidity, or so it is said.
Who am I to judge? I want to break out of here.
A bee is not strong in geometry: it cannot tell
a square from a triangle or a circle.
The locker room of my skull is full of panting egrets.
I’m saying that strictly for effect.
In time I will heal, I know this, or I believe this.
The contents and furnishings of my secret room will be labeled
and organized so thoroughly it will be a little frightening.
What I thought was infinite will turn out to be just a couple
of odds and ends, a tiny miscellany, miniature stuff, fragments
of novelties, of no great moment. But it will also be enough,
maybe even more than enough, to suggest an immense ritual and tradition.
And this makes me very happy.
Detail of a Paul Stankard piece Berkshire Bouquet Orb with Honeybee that is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever seen up close. Shot somewhere in Westernmost Massachusetts at the very end of an absolute dream this weekend, 2012. There are lots of things to be thankful for and it never feels enough but I’m thankful for honeybees suspended in glass orbs, floating above blueberries and pink petals while snow falls quickly outside.
IF YOU KISS A BEE IN JUST THE RIGHT WAY SOMETIMES IT WILL TELL YOU ITS SECRET NAME
SOMETIMES IT WILL LIE THOUGH SO LOOK OUT
IT’S WILD OUT THERE
More than the beetles turned russet,
sunset, dragging their shield, more than
the crickets who think it’s evening all afternoon,
it’s the bees I love this time of year.
Sated, maybe drunk, who’ve lapped at the hips
of too many flowers for one summer but
still must go on hunting, one secret
closing, another ensuing, picking
lock after lock, rapping the glass,
getting stuck in a puddle of dish soap,
almost winter, almost dark, reading far past
the last paragraph into the back blank page,
acknowledgments, and history of type.
I think when my head finally cracks
out will come one of those ravening scouts
autumnal with hunger beyond any sipping,
swallowing, beyond the hive’s teeming
factory’s needs. I think maybe then,
when I’m dying like a bug in a puddle
of dish soap, I’ll be relieved,
my wings wet capes and not working,
antennae slicked back and not working,
eye that sees the ruby above going out,
eye that sees the ruby within getting brighter
as I drag myself to a tomato ripening
on the window sill, reddest, softest
island of my last planet, last aureola,
stinger waving and useless. I’ll wait then,
while air from the north rushes gulf air,
a tree indicating wildly, each leaf woke
in orange outcry. It won’t be suffering,
exactly. Rain coming, then gone, a chill
that means all my barbarous kind are alone
and perishing, our unrecognizable young
buried and waiting, bodies of fire becoming
bodies of air. I don’t think there’s any way
bees mistake humility for stupidity
want i read c.v. in middle of set seen
everything you wanna be i already
been admit you hate me for it
blue print me for it
what stage you wanna hit
what mic you wanna break star
i rocked it wa carved some space scene
how to lift a crowd not slay we
lay the mic down all grateful
you clock my applause not listen to
the pause the breath wa prayer before
your after ain’t my vision you mistake
my grind for polish you don’t believe
what i know to be true of course you
at a loss for words cause you compete
this my dust speaking to you am
already out looking for the next who
poem will make me
Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.
When everything broken is broken,
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.
As in the story a friend told once about the time
he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.
Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash.
He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.
And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,”
that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.
No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch
he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,
scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp
along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word
was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise
the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs,
and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up
on the girder like a child—the sun was going down
and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket
he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing
carefully, and drove home to an empty house.
There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties
hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.
A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick
with rage and grief. He knew more or less
where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.
They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears
in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,”
she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights,
a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.
“You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?”
“Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now,
“I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while—
Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—
and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more,
and go to sleep.
And he, he would play that scene
once only, once and a half, and tell himself
that he was going to carry it for a very long time
and that there was nothing he could do
but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened
to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark
cracking and curling as the cold came up.
It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.
I want to finish the book in time
period. Confused bees
In a perfect world
a willow-effect. Rain on the recording
Fine with this particular form
of late everything, a spherical
break of colored stars
a voice described as torn in places
Why am I always
asleep in your poems
Soft static falling through
The life we’ve chosen
from a drop-down menu
of available drives. Look at me
Ben, when am I
This isn’t my voice
At such-and-such smooth rate, the lines
Stream at night
and love. Why not speak of it
as all work now
is late work. Leafage, fountain, cloud
into whose sunlit depths
I’m quoting. Is there a place for this
she cut her hair
She held it toward me
In your long dream
money changes hands
The first sturdy bee begins
To cross-pollinate the few flowers
Opened around the house.
It is March seventy degrees.
Last week saw snow on the ground.
A mosquito siphons my arm
And I do not smash it, stunned
As we are by being here.
Four lambs were born
And one is in the recycling bin
Dying. The ivy didn’t
Survive the last hard cold spell.
Some things believed to be hardy
Are not so. I miss you.
Ewes remaining in birthing pens
Chomp grain and choice-cut, waiting.
Blackbirds in the hemlock vie
For respite. Slurry-bins
Steam, fragrant, field-side.
If there is danger, if no world lasts
Who’s to say we were even here at all?