Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Maestlin Called to Say that It's Just One Decimal Place Off

do you remember what you've dreamed? the notion is silly. It resembles a clown-faced tenderness. do you remember the blackberry bush in the backyard that would bloom in spring. do you still have that scar from slipping in the brambles? do you remember late nights with just the kitchen light ? there is a longing for you, for those afternoons and evenings. it was new for a moment. everything dissolves in days. i have come to you across thousands of pines. you were a finger width away last night as i checked the map. mexico was periwinkle stretching out below. does distance signify endless desire. have you been back to the island in the river we camped on? there's a woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk of that black birch. do you still agree with Hass about each particular being the falling off from a first world of undivided light? we caught in the muddy places. the father's body is the numinous flesh. do your r's still look like m's when you try to write in cursive? did you send your elegy by correspondence? did you save my drawings? the words are hanging on one thousand walls. my hair is in your hands. the places remember how love was made. did you manage to braid your beta keratins? did you take to the sky on feathers foreign and wrong? i love the orange silver of your shoulders. the leaves are turning a shade reminiscent of you. it is all about the old. after a while, I understood. do you hurt? do you still wonder at the grief? i have drunk my weight in wine one thousand times. have you been thinking? are you at a loss? this world is almost a boat. sometimes i can feel the small fish beneath the willows. was there a woman? i felt her presence like a thin wire of salt. it hardly had to do with her. do you feel you have your justice? you've been lingering in my whiskey. have you found continuing pleasure? who rests their weight full against your collarbone these days? does your voice still sound the same, a soft rumble washed out by the noise around it? i'm still allergic to bee stings. i've been roasting pumpkinseeds this fall. do you ever remember the taste of the shoulder? do you think of the scent of the arm? is your thirst still tragic? i am still drunk. are you still querulous in the mornings? do you still take that tone? i felt dismantled in the thing you said. have you made friends? do you still bake your own bread? i've stitched you in the cotton running out beneath the floorboards. did you find your clarity? i've only got the general idea. i swear it's been that way since childhood. are you still sometimes violent? would you still mock me when I say words like luminous? where are you holding on?

if it comes to blows, i will lay you out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

i have carved my hame in the kitchen table, the "j" drawling out beneath your butter knife.

i have stayed up late
smoking joints with my roommate again.
we lost most thursdays this way,
burning it from its end
until all we have left is a handful of vowels and hours before morning’s light.
“home is where the heart is,”
i say, setting my bourbon on Aubrey’s desk, “and the thing about that is,
how do you find your heart before it’s too late?”
the ice in my glass catches the lamplight
- sending it out in flashes again and again,
laving across his face, and before i reach the end
of my statement, he turns from his computer and rolls his eyes my way.
this is the way
things usually go between us, and it is
the closest i’ve come to home since the end
of my first one: coming home late
one night and fighting with my father again
in the kitchen, the bulb over the stove, under the hood, the only light.
i’ve yet to forget that light,
the way it seemed all soft yellows,
and if i could do it again –
well, it doesn’t really matter, the reality is
that it’s far too late
for that. regardless if you expect or want it, an end is an end.
i have had too many ends
already. watched the snuffing out of too much light.
it feels as if i am arriving a moment late,
that if i had taken another way,
the shortcut i’ve been meaning to try, i’d show up before everyone is
saying goodbye. again.

i will come in at an end.
the truth is,
the light
only ever illuminates the way
that seems to make me late.

i’d like to not be late again
and for my wandering way to end.
aubrey’s light is still on.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

over the next seventy years, you'll probably only store one hundred twenty five megabytes in your memory.

there was an open field next to my father's church in missouri, and i remember
how, after service, i would wade out with the other boys
-awash in weeds, padding silently in penny loafers - watching as their bodies shone
in the afternoon sun as we would hunt for grasshoppers.
i never was able to catch them, to hold them
between my hands - something in the way they ate grass terrified me.

that church was demolished a few years ago, the sanctity leaving with each pew
the movers loaded into the truck. the baptismal pulled out by a crane through a hole
in the roof, and finally the bulldozers and backhoes.

they built a race track there, asphalt sprawling across the nearby open fields
- and the roar of engines, the chambers igniting and pistons pumping sound much like
the grasshoppers' stridulations: the well-defined lip being moving across a
finely-ridged surface and vibrating as it does so.

like my corduroy slacks, one thigh against the other as i would run into the grass, peppered with blooms of clip-on neck ties.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Owe a Cock to Asclepius

He moves among the chickens. He wears jeans, a v-necked white undershirt stained with the memory of work, and brown cowboy boots. The hens protest his presence with the din of their collected clamor. A jerking roiling mass of brown feathers, beaks and stuttering feet, punctuated here and then suddenly there with the lustrous gleam of a dark eye peering between the action to catch his. And he leans down to catch the chicken by the neck, and he rolls his hand in a sudden flick. Barely registering the dull snap of the vertebrae, the heave of the soft body as the life abruptly dissipates. Not lost in the languid motion from the veins or snuffed in the entrapment of the lungs, but like a brief flash of energy, a firefly’s lamp deep in a clump of weeds. There and then the next moment, lost. Life is different than you think. He culls for hours. He rolls the right and left wrists, freeing the birds of their burdens. He sets them in piles of fifteen. He sets ten piles of fifteen. His wrists hurt, the dull ache spreading back from the heel of his palm to his elbow, brightened by a shock of pain now and then. He sits in the grass away from the chicken house and the ten piles of fifteen. His shirt sticks to the sweat that spreads across his chest. The stains deepen. The sun stands overhead and he has been working since this morning.

“Felis Cattus, is Your Taxonomic Homenclature, an Endothermic Quadruped Carnivorous by Nature?”

Aubrey leans back in the high-backed antique chair he's sitting in at the desk,
"So this lady at work today, she always has a glass of wine by herself and today she had this like, bag with all these kittens in it.
He pauses as Shenise and I laugh
"All these," he continues
"What!" Shenise interrupts.
"Kittens!!" I say, pulling the afghan covering Shenise to lie over my legs. The air pulled into the room from the window by the fan is chill and carries the call of crickets.
Aubrey huffs and continues, "They were all gold and there were all these purples and teals . . ." "Wait wait wait," I exclaim, waving my hands, "so the pattern on the purse was kittens?" "Yeah."
“I thought you meant the purse was full of the animal.”
Shenise begins to laugh, the mattress carrying the shake of her body to where I sit at the foot of the bed.
“I wouldn’t have been attached to it then,” Aubrey says, cutting his eyes from the embroidery hoop he’s working on to glare at my stupidity.
“But when I complimented it, she said she had eleven cats.”
“Ohhhhh, she’s a crazy cat lady,” Shenise groans
“Yeah, eleven does put you in crazy territory,” Aubrey agrees.
“Is she married?” Shenise asks
“I don’t think so,”
“I don’t think soooooo,” I say overlapping Aubrey’s facts with my conjecture.
“And then she told me about this puppy someone had - a Chihuahua”
“Ugh, no.”
“Now, she was watching it. And she wore it. At the bar. Under her blouse. It’s little head would poke out here,” Aubrey sets the hoop down and grabs the neck of his t-shirt, pulling it down and flapping it.”
“Ahahahaohmygod,” Shenise says, rolling from side to side, tangling the afghan around her. “Are you serious? And you listened to her?!” Aubrey sighs and begins stitching again.
“You’re way too nice.”
“She’s ollld,” he chuckles, “I don’t know. I was like, waiting for my tables to finish eating. Everything was done. I kinda wanted to hear what the crazy cat lady had to say. She’s hilarious. She went on forever. And she told me if I ever. I told her that there’s cats. That the neighbors let their cats run wild. And she said ‘You should go play with them. You know what you should do? Get some catnip and rub it all over your body. Lie on the ground’ . . .”
Shenise bursts over Aubrey’s story, hooting
“. . . and they’ll come play with you!”
We all laugh, Aubrey setting his head on the desk. My eyes water and in the tears the lamplight sets his hair on fire.
“I’m serious,” he continues after catching his breath.
“There’s. no way. that’s true,” Shenise punctuates her sentence with chuckles.
“I’m so serious. She told me to do that. And I just thought about claws like,” Aubrey swivels the chair to face us and rakes at the air, a feline snarl pulling his lips back from his teeth, “cats jumping on you . . .”
“Rubbing on you,” I add.
“. . . she had this look of ecstasy.”
“Wow, using herself to get her cats high,” I say
“Yeah, but it’s just like, ugh, something about. There’s something crazy cat lady - there’s something about the physicality of it . . .”
“Yeah,” Shenise agrees.
“on her,” Shenise finishes my sentence.
“. . . all over her. It’s like making love to a pack of cats.” Aubrey rubs his hands in a flourish across his chest, the movements growing more exaggerated as our laughter grows, the fan blowing it out the door where it spills into the living room and fills it.