something shorter than an arm
but with more mojo and traction
than worry, the ephemera of
prayer on the sending end
with enough smoke to send up
this thing without words like
fishing—the whole being yearning
till we are nothing but hope
Far better than the dingy deep to which
the rotting flesh resigns are upright traps
or boards where feet pace out
the private woes the world designs.
At least in clothes or closets we may dream
or simply breathe or merely be the subjects
of desire. But where we go the beds are all
too neat. To say we sleep there is a lie.
It’s no small feat to live inside a tomb
three days or, locked a lifetime in this case,
to love, to dance and sing, and still to die.
the guy doesn’t remember
committing the crime
beaning the old man
taking the car
seeing the device
idly turning it on
being on another planet
wanting to go home
the police don’t remember
catching the guy
one minute cruising
sketchy part of town
the next at the station
in a scuffle with aw-shit-
grab its head!
the old man doesn’t remember
but he remembers
the guy as a boy
mowing yards in the neighborhood
freckles on his face
always looking up and grinning
when anyone passed by
captain centipede can’t remember
what he is—could be the guy
or the old man
a lawnmower a car a house
all he knows is every part of him
is beautiful and there’s
no one else like him
in the universe
Flung out of orbit
at last we thought we’d live
as we pleased.
The gods that left us here
liked mirrored worlds and ice,
not the human world of
fires and tents and trees.
All that loud singing.
The galaxy they
wheeled away on
had vapor in it and
a voice that left behind
the muffled slap our
weary leather makes as
we go round the around
the rag a little bully with a
whip made our life when
no one was looking
But we do still love
the sound of water
waving in a metal pan,
our day’s allotment,
and the memory
of the sun we had.
Notes for My Successor
Avoid grappling with sentient cargo.
If it tries to escape, just back down the
oscillation and see what happens.
For the spin things will inhabit, cold stars
will do if they can follow instructions
and are disarmed. That last part is important.
Unlike the improvised sealant, the
official sealant is unstable
even at modest speeds.
Permission has not been granted to enter
the tunnel. Nonetheless, at night we hear
someone in there making an infernal
racket rearranging the ephemera.
The “questions and suggestions are welcome”
box outside the cafeteria is
management’s early warning system
for insubordination. Don’t ask. Don’t suggest.
The ergot problem has been acknowledged and
will be monitored. Volunteers are needed
to ingest sundry foodstuffs that may or may not
be contaminated. Volunteering
Blowback trumps everything but weather.
Ignore gossip about the cook and the
entertainment. Even without all their
sockets, they are lovely to observe
operating their frilly appendages
and chasing the good-natured scullions.
In open air, measures quicken and may
skew penumbral estimates. Use the slide rule.
You will not get a raise.
No matter how you engineer it,
the scatter will show which stations
to abandon. Ten seconds.
BTW the timer is broken.
By the time we get there, our love will be
so far away its light will have panned out
into sectors to which we have no access.
Asking for additional orbits will only
make them laugh. Try it.
The key to the plasma storage cabinet
was already missing when I got here.
Regardless of what the gauges indicate,
nothing in the universe loves a lock.
image: detail Arabic Machine MS Public Domain Review http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/arabic-machine-manuscript/
Like that time somebody sort of noticed
you existed—first love, then violation.
More assiduous patrols are needed—
someone to ride who knows how to rope rhyme
and corral caesurae, someone to mount up
and stay out there weeks at a time or
until the fence runs out, utterly runs out.
Squalls, major thunderstorms, hail in addition
to the usual zephyrs and plain ol’ sunshine.
Just a manly someone in full armor,
someone who salutes you when he returns
and knows everything an order entails
though no mention of means or motives
occurs in four hundred years of
relentlessly well-ornamented text.
Someone also to wear gloves, to have a
stable of gloves for all occasions
occasioning choice. Choose, choose, choose.
Just geometry anyhow in the end.
iterating so close they’re
inside your head: wake up.
If no one hears,
does it even matter how you
squeeze the interval
or sweep the yard?
But what do I know,
it’s the bird’s world.
In my dark wood,
birds too far up to hear
make nets to catch
the stars and weather.
Down here there’s
not enough air left for
the middling get-through
when the future’s done,
just the sound of not listening,
the buzz of mere medium,
so no matter what you say
it’s just the meme
passing through you,
and a lot of hailing.
Not that anything is
wrong with that of course.
It’s just my morning
now the freeway’s louder
than the birds.
Image: British Library http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/illuminated-manuscripts/page/2/
13th century, Sloane MS 3544, f. 24r
cylinder hovers above
woods, animals freeze
buzzing fucks up radio
trucker prays in field
women driving home
stunning light, vehicle swarmed
superfast spacecraft arrives
drinking and loud sex
tall frilly spacemen
emerge from haystack-shaped ship
police call it in
That tunnel inside the air we cannot
see is not invisible. It slides
beneath our measure, as if it knows
we do not see things where we think
they cannot be.
To find what escapes seeing, you must
go back down to places where you
have long not been. You must inhabit
places where you cannot breathe
and shelter where lightning empties out.
Further down, you must abandon
hopes you cannot yet conceive,
they are so small and so precise.
You must let go your edges then
to sympathize with bloodless things.
You must go down until it gets too hot
to stay inside your carbon cage.
The dead don’t clamor as the living do
to know. When they estimate the
universe, matter doesn’t really
matter, even though our love—
perhaps—holds them to it far too long.
If you don’t know me, I’m a river
of light, your spookily attractive
blind date, the man of all moments,
the mother of all mysteries,
the dog that won’t run on command,
the tardy dinner guest and yes
the thief with all your codes.
Between here and here or there and there,
this train never arrives—the dream that you
cannot quite recall makes your day unreal.
Imagine me in your dark corridor,
moving at my lonely cruising speed—
you don’t need me to tell you
as soon as there must be something else,
something is missing.
I am the something that loves
the part of you not merely you
so unlike the little midday god
that busy bee enforcing all the
small taboos, just waiting for you
to break a rule no one knows about
to fling the gates open to shut you out
somewhere where to our surprise
being is a blessing by default,
not the outlaw of the sensible world.
I whiz by so supernaturally fast
you’ll always look for me only where
I’ve recently been, the tiny loose nut
that’s screwed up the beam.
If you want a collision,
I want to escape.
By the time you arrive,
I’ve already paid the bill—there I am
riding away in the rain
in my celestial cab.
Resplendent in flowing
white robes and turban—
halo illusion, rotor blades.
Gray day, damn the fog—
oh for something different—
When death stopped by the room was ready—
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.
image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/