On a Monday stroll I met again that man:
Red cap, red hands, with a smile
Inelegant. His eyes
Held nothing, knew nothing,
Painted in a drunken brushstroke—no!
Not drunken, but inexact, like the curvature of this world lost
On the tip
Of another’s tongue.
He chewed one shirt made of skin,
Looped twice-over into a wailing belt-buckle.
Even the intoxicated
Of the vermin besides his feet,
Stitched and soled in the tanner’s desperation,
Did not ask for a second serving.
They subsisted on morsels
Of the deconstruction project above.
The expectation of her scream found me
On the third of our two dates. She needed
No protection but the thin lights of a balcony
Overlooking a stream of metal boxes with metal wheels.
She said the noise helped her sleep, carried to unknown
Directions the conclusions of dreams she did not commit.
I believed her false jokes—
They were never mine to judge. What right
Of arbitration did I possess
Within the curls of my cigarette breath?
She left as she had come: with an exclamation
And an unwashed silhouette inside the corners of our house.
We called him only ‘Maestro’:
Nothing as common as a name would do!
He would talk and we would listen,
Stars and sea bound willingly
To the thrum of his voice, and the infinite
Gorgons produced by that throated violin.
They say he died, somewhere
In the California desert of 1986;
But man says many things, and so I set
Out to witness his rebirth.
A body they exhibited—what clever replication!
Even the broken capillaries upon his cheeks reforged! And yet
Why did its mouth hold still? Where went
The air besides the nose? Abhorrent thing! You possess
Less than zero of His being. Can you reconjure
A boundless night from nothing
But the force of your belief?
Inspired by Alex Gibney’s excellent documentary on Scientology.
She had a mouth constructed for laughter:
Upper dais slightly oblong, ill-fitting
Curve to sister’d step. And what of the black
Nestled within? Barbs stolen from the rose bush—
Edge’s wit mustn’t meld
Amongst company so colored.
She had a mouth constructed for laughter, and perhaps
It had done so once.
But the years had made it small;
She wore now a smile arranged
Only in self-contempt.
The real thing she sold
In the marketplace outside a dream.
Some elements of the prose loosely lifted from previous work.
Even the white of the dying sun
Avoids my bedroom window,
Another Sunday afternoon
Dissolved within a rectangle eight by ten.
The neighbors passed
Away overseas. I saw
The ship’s shadow cast off,
Left beneath a front door
No one thought to disembark: blank, handwritten,
Like the intention of their goodbyes.
I miss their casual violence, the staccato
Of youth unrealized, each cry
Transmuted to fill the hole above my head.
Perhaps I shall visit them, follow starstiched
The longitudes of our deceit.
Companionship’s kiss left all alone
Befriended so long
Thoughts subtle-shaded rose all in black.
Mythological age passed but unsown,
Mortals so mere
False-bidden flung on div-ine track.
Thus king ignoble sat on the throne
Judgement so daft
Satanic refusal broke deviled back.
So gilded god arrived much postponed
Purpose so straight
From side unseen slipped last attack.
Stay a month longer, Jin-dynastied sun…
Too eager you signed unfounding breath.
Greeting came carcass-gifted,
Calamitous cause leaves unsaid?
Enlighten then your parapeted subjects:
Sixty-thousand they stand, suicide-shawled.
Where erred veneration,
When fell celebration?
The horsed horde at our gates know not love
(Their language lacks the rhyme).
At those hands
Are we to be skull-split,
Rent from family and form,
Rent for silver and sex?
It cannot be!
Your claims I disavow, your shapes I abnegate.
To my disciples I say only
Adopt, in final moment,
The butterfly’s art.
I often (re)write poems. A dramatized re-telling of the original.