Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the adulteress

I've been going back and forth
between the kitchen and the front door

Are you a lost cat
waiting for a familiar scent to guide you home?
Are you anticipating
a comforting gust around every foreign corner?

The innocent scenarios play in a loop
but I know that I am discovered:
the grit has floated to the surface
and no amount of my regret will rinse
the memory of it from your eyes

Nevertheless I scrub the counters
stack the dishes
so you will find a cleaner home
when your need to see my face contort in shame
brings you slowly back

And yet it's not the guilt that keeps me awake
even while I steep in it
but the fear
that when the ire bleeds into your cheeks
at the sight of this jaw line
it will be for your foolishness in trusting
not for loving me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

the joy parade

There was that half hour, sitting in the back of a rusted Toyota in the middle of the Rum, red sand all around whisked into my face by the tires and the unstoppable wind, monoliths carved out by centuries and teeth of cartoon-blue sky, dust mating with the residual sweat of Nabatean exploration on my skin, greasy hair, a ribbed tank top, a convoy, and the broadest smile I could muster up without guile. Ecstasy vaporized through the pores: the first moment of grateful, self-realized living.

And then there was your genuine peace and confidence when you said that you could not forget me and would be around for a while, window-adjacent anticipation every day like clockwork, dreams becoming comfortably-elevated reality, children's cries resounding in my lungs, pride of the future, a disposition to happy compromise, and first trust in the orchestrator of childhood hopes and adult responsibility.

Of these two, only one remains, taunted by the memory of his younger brother. Desperate for a new beginning, I created Cain and Abel, and I knew all along that all the good die young.

cradle the grave

Living with this parasitic doubt, I fall asleep quickly and stay there too long, the better to dream it away.

Treachery is a hockey card, a gambling debt repaid too soon to overwrite the inclination toward the illicit, too fast to fill the grave with anything other than a fine white powder.

You love too well to be out of practice, and I’m too out of practice to be worth your while.

Despite the secret liaisons and hidden childhood fortunes and despite the prairie cold that radiates from your untouchable skin, it’s me, always me; I have my doubt for company.

beyond the seams

It happens every time—
to sapling
to struggling romantic progeny—
and to every thing there is this season.

So then how does it surprise? and catch quick
adrenalous breaths in my feeble fetal lungs?

It happens, you said.
So it does,
and it takes,
and it squeezes,
and it builds, sways, creaks, fluxes, takes, ruptures, sings,
it does,
and every time the unknown pattern
is sewn by a recognizable hand,
is added to the pile.

The pattern-maker,
the master seamstress,
pioneer of the temporary garment:
(couldn’t you guess)
sews these new threads
in familiar treachery,
by sleight of hand,
adds to the quilt that started as a
carried you through college
(never coupling)
into the weaker royal of your young professionalism
so that you knew your bedfellow,
negative space,
knew to speak from a lack,
learned to be a lack,
learned to be lacking,
until he was no longer gone
but you were.

Friday, June 3, 2011

level the echoing green

you are all of you so familiar

as the days wind on
they grind your cheekbones
your lashes
and your sudden vibrant grins
into the cast iron printing plates of my memory
and turn your cadenced poise
into familiar spectres that taunt from my periphery

with you it's been months,
with you a few more,
and finally with you
it's been these impatient years

but there's something in the latency of dreams,
the parasitic influence of night visions both treasured and sloughed away,
that wears down my resistance and the playing field
until all three of you are caught in a never-ending scrimmage
on the most level ground

you are all of you running echoes of a song I have yet to finish
whose tune transmutes this wearisome strength
to volatility
which makes saving face the only investment I can afford to buy into

having paid for my share of this,
I wonder
when the return will ever catch up with me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

modern memory

Who can trace the contours of memory's face. She sits in my backpack and at the first chance leaps into the strands of my hair. I coif my remembrances day by day. I run a brush through my golden strands and

in August when time was running out and the sun had almost given up but was still pushing for the big win, your Suzuki Swift bore me away on gravel roads and nervousness. your arm under my back. am I hurting you. can I cut off your circulation for one more stalled moment. courage was the summer and I am overdue. getting by with a few late fees and the thrill of procrastination. never lost sight of the possibility. possibility. possibility. giving over is such work when I am out of practice. I write my name on your identity and scrawl the time on the window of your suv precursor. 1:30 am. a record. the wind is picking up and we're all out of cookie dough. I managed to not fall off your roof but

we couldn't avoid the awkwardness of a hatchet at the top of a hill and the mention of a big-time m.o. from the greatest b crush of all time. no fell'ing in the Swift. none at Vespers. it is before my indoctrination and it still lingers as a hope near my brain stem. chills down the spine like falling off the roof at midnight outside your sister's window shining the artificial light of childhood narcissism down on your shoulders and blotting out the clock.

I've started to wear my hair down for the sake of these. working a ponytail goes nowhere on the road to self-experience. the scent changes, and mini-me-memory enters my nose as well as my scalp and

sitting on the 104 at 9:43 in '06 I recall the scent of you on the hood of your car which was the scent of Mexican laundry detergent which is the scent of the man in front of me. rotund and smells clean. yellow shirt. dazzling buttercup and I Never Saw Another Butterfly. there is a pull to ask him how he launders. there is a more logical more frightening more misleading pull to ask you how I hurt you, my picture on your dash with phallic popsicle and naïveté. there is guilt in the water and it laces our clothes. your sister telling me the words you never could and me crying tears for your sake. wanting to be the shoulder I never wanted to be when I was a shoulder. a breast when I had none. assurance when I couldn't see it staring me in the heart. but not caring really not at all not ever not ever, really.

Memory falls, dandruff towards my backpack, never as poetic as snow on flammable cedars.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

self-caffeinated free association

I know I shouldn't, but I do. The mantra thuds in the background as the anthem rings out true: maybe this time it's different.
Yes. It is a question of earned reticence. Yes. It's a question of lessons learned. But life is hope, Highness.
So I wrap myself in cables that imitate the weight of human tissue, cables that carry all our knowledge, a posteriori or otherwise. They can choke, I've seen them do it, and even a priori it's not hard to imagine. But as the Sexton once said, it is a sweet weight, this weight that presses my feet into the soil and roots me in the truth of possibility. Imagination is my gateway drug in the afternoon, and I sink from surface to soil to the soul's opium dream.
I don't sleep anymore; I float on a cloud of orange anticipation above my yellow notepad forever in the night. I produce my own caffeine, better than the dregs from a Japanese factory floor stained by adjacent dynasty and pantheistic tendencies forgotten.
This heart pitters and patters, but it sees enough to think clearly through the arrest. Or at least kaleidoscopically—
a new image emerges from the patchwork refractions and I see myself reflected
mewling in newness
in its arachnid eyes.