Flight and Son

For want of wings.

Before the feathers fell, a morning star and six moons gone. But still, the golden chains, the prayer. O bird in one hand. May you not be killed by the stone in the other. But the exile was long and the cliff just high enough to launch himself home, son of suns, into light. And the light, in recognition, danced to see him until it took him back. 


Inspired by the story of Icarus.


From an undersea expanse.

It started above ground. Then we

worked the present’s peace, as

the storm and life went on until

the whole story was underwater.

The lens moved to track the current,

the coral, its choral lives. The lens

was intelligent. It saw us. We

looked back, our entire lives

before us, now beyond speech,

the brave vessels of our knocking

hearts still moving by the word. 

We held new names inside us,

hinting at what we were and to

what we were being returned. 

Down we went. At last, 

there was no time before this

but our remembrance, and some

would make trespass of memory

holding it close, would hear its

first utterance in the water, like

Mother            even now, in

this constant dusk the day 

still breaking in my––– 

But she said:


don’t speak to me of

souls. Not here, at this

late hour. Only hold.


Unicorn in love (Beyoncé cento).

Ten times out of nine

––I know,

If I were a boy, every girl 

––in here


the image. 

Cliché on his mouth 

like liquor

––who wants 

the perfect love 

story                ––anyway 

I got hot––

sauce in my bag,


Wax on? wax off.

Now I’m even more,


You won’t break my––

pictures snatched, 


the frame

why can’t I keep–– 

my hands off? 


              when I put on

show me your scars. 

Lord, forgive me.

I’m stingy

with                 my love

won’t you hold on?

             To me,

             I was here.  


The above is a cento composed entirely of Beyoncé lyrics.

The Name

To say the word.

And you said to me, go back

and I returned where you told me

to myself, the soul’s eye looking.

The awe of it, and all of it unknown. 

But I wanted solid things in space,

a place to own. I looked long and

it was true, then. There was no place

to rest this head. 

You said the word and it left me

and I am locked away now, far

from that mother, that tongue. 

Take me back.  


Inspired by Augustine’s Confessions.


And the heart of the matter.

They come to see us, hungry for our size.

Look at our faces. We tower. They dance.

One says, walk slower. One says, closer.

There are more of us now, as though prayers.

Into clouds. No command is needed from this height.

They sing us. A dirge, they sing for beloveds

and the birds call back. From their ovens,

the smell of bread. When they taste,

they will look. Up, they will see us,

our suspended faces

against sky. 


Inspired by a recent New York Times article about Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater.

The Land Before Us

Facing its faces.

The land before us

suggested as much 

by gesture as by intensity

of gaze returned.

It was tempting 

to call out, Hello?

and Who is here?

But we saw them

seeing us and

the grasses

spoke first. 


Inspired by Osman Can Yerbaken’s description of the paintings of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah, who as Yerbaken puts it, “commands the landscape genre as its own form of portraiture by depicting the emotionality of a place like the piercing immediacy of a face.” 

Last Stand

On sacred ground.

We wondered too late if there was any other place to go, dry winds making rubble of our throats, their silence to echo the ruin we could not bear to see when it was yesterday and still only possible when other states were also possible and still, we will not say it, how we want the rain, as though to say nothing is to trick it back, as though language itself were only a game, no longer trusted to sing us forward, to call the heavens down and return the waters of our lives to our waiting tongues as we hide them in shame and will not say the word and it is true there has been a betrayal here for the word, too, can be trampled under feet too quick to march, who would not stop to meet the ground when it introduced itself, and asked to touch the naked soles

––of us.

You Are Here

Trying to read the map.

Some of the old masters believed the ear outlived the heart, so they would sit with the dead forty days, giving directions. We didn’t expect that kind of treatment, given the times. We thought we had better get to where we knew the map. 

We weren’t sure what to make of the artist’s work, so asked. There is something unknown in you, she said. She wanted us to see it. We asked her if she was sure about that and she laughed, shaking her head. We did not always know how to talk to the artist. 

In one series, she created shapes from mathematical theorems, but we took them for angels. The effect was like walking in a cathedral. We wanted to know how she did it. Something happens, she said. But when I work, I do not think of things.

I wish you could see it, and we asked what. How the void is the place where you stand, she said, and left us. We are still here, looking. 


Inspired by the work of Dorothea Rockburne.