I used to buy graph paper, and color in the squares, one by one.
I knew a man who suicided his vision by staring into the sun.
There are twenty-seven oranges and thirteen honeybees
Pollinating beneath that tree.
Dear wife, don’t fall asleep. There are only seven traffic lights
And four stop signs between you and me.
What would you do inside me?
You would be utterly
comb, each corridor identical, a
funhouse, there, a bridge, worker
knit to worker, a span
you can’t cross. On the other side
the queen, a fortune of honey.
Once we filled an entire house with it,
built the comb between floorboard
& joist, slowly at first, the constant
buzz kept the owners awake, then
louder, until honey began to seep
from the walls, swell
the doorframes. Our gift.
They had to burn the house down
to rid us.
There’s a species of solitary mason bees that make these pretty little nests for their larvae out of flower petals.
The Tacuinum Sanitatis - Illuminations and Text from Medieval Health Handbooks
From the start, I carried you
in my pocket and not in my heart. I want to forget that
my body is borrowed from dirt.
And heaven is no higher than my own library.
I realize I’m dreaming again but it’s real: the lights
are getting weirder like a disco ball. I cut out
my heart with a dollar bill. Some unseen force pushes us
like carts across the supermarket parking lot.
I know what the steam rising from my tea means,
and the mingling plumes from two chimneys:
the body ruins everything. The stars are stuck in dark.
The moon becomes an inky green. In some dreams
you paint a self-portrait with your wings.
And the most beautiful thing you do is disappear
each time an hour turns into a year.
I’m looking for a god that comes like a rod
of lightning or a sudden airhorn,
a bee sting, anything other than the usual
bones beneath our scars.
Edmund Hillary’s interest in beekeeping later led him to commission Michael Ayrton to cast a golden sculpture in the form of a honeycomb—a reference to Daedalus’ invention of the lost-wax process. This was placed in Hillary’s New Zealand garden, where his bees took it over as a hive and ‘filled it with honey and their young.’
The scale had finally tipped. The crown
had leant the trunk’s coarse twist
too far, had torn the root
from the earth’s socket. Rain moistened
the dry rot into marrow, a paste
of henna coating the frayed tongue.
Yet the bud-pearls
went on loosening, day by day whitening
the twig wood. Perhaps
it could still drink the rain.
Perhaps sap rises and rises its fill
like a tide, pulled by the novae of transient stars.
Winter rye grew tall between the branches.
Each day I chewed
one rasping blade, folding it greedily
into my mouth. The sweet juice foaming,
stinging my throat.
Today I stood before a tissue of sunlight, behind which
the gilt cage burned. Sparks
lifted off it, or drifted fading down.
I stepped inside,
and the wail of bees rose around me.
I stood; they knocked against me, settling
their squirming burrs on my hair.
I have no flowers for you, I said
and crossed through that veil.
from Axis Mundi, BkMk Press, 2013.
There is nothing beautiful here
However I may want it. I can’t
Spin a crystal palace of this thin air,
Weave a darkness plush as molefur with my tongue
However I want. Yet I am not alone
In these alleys of vowels, which comfort me
As the single living nun of a convent
Is comforted by the walls of that catacomb
She walks at night, lit by her own moving candle.
I am not afraid of mirrors or the future
—Or even you, lovers, wandering cow-fat
And rutting in the gardens of this earthly verge
Where I too trod, a sunspot, parasol-shaded,
Kin to the trees, the bees, the color green.
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.