“Distrust the maker, oh first direction.
It seeks only to confound flight
Of the sparrow and the thrush—
What use have regal wingtips
For letters of four and five?”
So it was once written
In gold-leafed pages upon the mind:
Some called them memories.
No name, no language they remember,
Letters sealed with tongues of white and grey
Matter, an accumulation across centuries.
Letters left at the doorstep
Of ambition: Did not a single stone
Give birth to the tower at Babel?
Letters cast off upon white-sailed ships,
Servants to the irrationality of the wind—
Have they tried speech?
Letters docked at black harbors,
Endless in ink, waiting to be read.
An invitation I received, written by my own hand,
But where misplaced memory of its writing?
I parsed the paper
/Split sheet in-two.
I struck down the gavel,
Put to testimony the lies of pastel twins.
Their mouths remained open, illiterate
To the governance of our truth.
“Think, think” I said, to myself and the moon:
Both of us had
Only two weeks more to undo.
I left then the deposition of that house, too long
Traced from the whistle of yesterday’s father.
A new parent I sought, amongst fields of sugarcane
And silence—in the soil of those rows
Burrowed the seeds of my rebirth.
So who had come before me,
and torn them all up?
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.
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.
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.
Hold steadfast First feeling;
Allow not second-rate puppeteer
Capture, once more, the cannonball
Crack of her laughter, in yellow twinkle-toed
Like that jacket you lost, and the mango sorbet
Still stuck beneath her tongue.
Do you remember Last night
In the foreign field of our home,
Where sylvan stars gave birth,
Again and again?
A theater of billions
For a tragedy of two.
Her breath they buried
Within the lyrics of their church.
Her laughter they swept
Away into lightless’d corners
Gilded with shame, silvered sound
Painted red—but spoken blue,
Like the crooked curves
Between their teeth. For whom
Do you lie? The goliaths have gone
Back to their fathers. Only You remain—
And lessons yet unlearned. Let us
Then begin: The murder of a word
Takes only two: a little ima-gination
And the ecstasy of silence.