Lonesome George

Sounds of a moment.

I don’t like to think about Lonesome George, the last of his species wandering his island home, about the baleful way he must have looked through those ancient eyes and whether he made a sound in the hopes that another of his kind would hear it. They took him into a center in the end and studied him until he died.

But here I am anyway, perhaps because of how often I see a certain kind of look, the way its eagerness seems haunted by a particular fear, the way so much of the moment seems to be wandering, making sounds.  


Before his death in 2012, Lonesome George was considered the rarest creature in the world.

The Moment and the Hand

Point of contact.

Closer. Lens moves over hillside, black with ash from the last burn. Find the fire poppies above the road. Where are they and the first call when it comes is a reminder: check the nightstand lock the doors.

Who is safe is a not a question. She holds it. Describe the sound of water eroding a mountain. With the cold moon come hungry dogs to howl night. 

Father seeking son, without the right address. Where do you send the words to tell him, Son I am thinking. To tell him what. To tell him finally. Of you and mean it. And imagine that he reads.

But if the numbers are wrong you cannot deliver. We cannot be delivered without the right numbers and until they come every stranger looks like a prayer almost answered and only a few of these look up.

Take notice when looking for a son and see one there on his knees beside the shoulder where it’s time to look and look again. When no movement follows call but the wind of passing cars in roadside sage then call again and wait. 

Hold the name against your tongue. Against the soft skin of the roof of your mouth. Of the son with no roof to shield his head. Don’t say it. Closer, calling hey and are you to the stranger and alright and how does anyone answer this now except to say yes except to indicate the pulse that means still living but it’s the rising blooms from the ash you need now. 

Move the lens. This distance from the burn will yield nothing. Go in.

To Break a Wall

Notes from Crete.

There is a certain pitch to plans made in prison, not

like the half-baked dreams of anywhere else. The wings

as real as the wax, and the sun, the son the sum of the

parts you gave, dreaming him. There are flowered

children elsewhere in a field that never knew walls

except on set and you cannot blame them for the

glow of their faces how they won’t age it takes

absorption to do that but to these it’s all water

rolling, the waves        the waves        the duck’s

back                all joy              and fun            except

for the highlights        the chase scenes         so

good for ratings          so good for saying       watch

look what I did. No sense explaining to the scions

of such gentle suns how yours will kill you, quick.

Offer anyway what you have of shelter and an

ear to the running stream of tears. They roll

off the backs of them              stop looking for

logic    they roll because        those backs are

the backs of                the sons of the sun, 

o child

how I wish                    to pretend.

The Deserted

Under an unforgiving sun.

Broken white lines follow interstate miles home through the valley of the sun. Before it sets, bring the telescope. Look for Jupiter and let Mars rise above a Mesa into Phoenix until they are each a distant glow in the mirror and dream of rising again. And Joshua trees keep watch. To think they guard us as we fall into ghosts of former towns from when we knew them, still living, still ours and still––

someone stands after forty miles of nothing under a tarp in the place where a porch would be and there is no way not to wonder if the waiting of so many at such distance might be stretching. Something tight like Achilles’ unblessed tendon still reaching–– 

––for the water that crossed us once a sacred chord ready to play until it pleased the long-haired keeper of the secret ways we dreamed, even if.

All the while, to anyone who asked, most of us were good enough to protest protection, saying instead, just let it. Come. We said with straight faces, meaning to mean the words.

A Thousand Faces

The distance between action and call.

I can be mother, too! he offered, thinking of cameos and not the tedium of tending. 

But I can weave! He insisted, stomping the last of the grass. 

What about fire? I can make it! But there was no wood. 

A sacrament, then, anything but penance! 

Purification sounded lofty, so long as the means was anything but silence. 

A song! ––His chest swelled to the imaginary chorus. But she had given those already, to deaf ears. 

I will dance you to the moon! But her feet were bruised from carrying his weight. 

He claimed to want a friend, some unifying vision. At last he arrived, the ever-faithful witness to the glory of his own reflection, and its deep pools went on and on.

The Good Hero

A triumph of confidence.

Over time, people brought their pleas to the hero–––and more than a few grave concerns. 

Is there a problem with appearances? The hero wanted to know. 

Well, no. Not exactly, the people had to admit, unless you considered the way that these so often seemed distracting to the hero. No, they tried to explain­­–––delicately, of course, to protect the hero’s sense of himself–––it was more about nuts. They were tired of eating what was casually tossed from the high stage. Sometimes they longed for something prepared, nourishing. It was about bolts too, how everywhere you looked they needed tightening, and the people were feeling anxious with a sense that the fortress, shiny as it was, did not seem structurally sound. 

The hero, long practiced in the art of turning deaf ears, heard nothing of significance in these concerns, and was immensely pleased. All really was good, after all. As he had been saying all along, except during moments of panic when his cape was noticeably rumpled. He checked the cape. It was smooth and would flow nicely in the wind, especially at entrances and exits. 

All good, he said, and the triumph was one of confidence if not substance. But confidence and an iron were all you needed to wear your cape well, especially when it had been the people’s gift. 

How to Do it All

Everywhere. All at once.

Select a large fish with many bones,
and sturdy shoes. Arch support is key.
Fasten the wings so the clasp is tight
and do not modify with glue. Even if
it seems like a good idea at the time.
Remove the lug nuts, affirm intentions
in the mirror, look both ways. Remember
to fasten the lid and check that the needle
is sharp. Remember the eye of the needle
and hold your hands like this. Be sure
your feet are facing and your head, like
this. Mind the gap. Beat well. Always
preheat. Cover with a damp cloth, pay
careful attention to the edges. Wait
ten seconds before you speak, look
both ways. Never forget.

The Experience

Reflections at play.

We mean to be sophisticated in our tastes. But this is absurd. Really. This whole idea of art we step into. The way you demand we become it. The size and height of these rooms, the excess of mirrors, balloons. You invite us in––for pictures, of course. For the experience. Mirror, mirror, mirror, mirror––on the wall, ceiling, floor. Which is which? Wall, wall, wall, wall. And everywhere we look––even out, there we are. You call it the reflection room. We are delighted. 


Inspired by an experience in one of the Infinity Rooms created by artist Yayoi Kusama.

Wayfaring Strangers

Subway meditation.

That this feeling might be bottled and passed like emergency water. How to describe the taste of this sacrament. It has something to do with the shared steam of this space between stops, thigh to thigh, hand over hand even with the gentle deference of strangers; the false metaphor of personal space, how easy it is to hold at a distance, but impossible here. Whatever territory there might be is no island but an occasional bubble in this sea and we dive from this common reef and back again, open doors take these bodies given up with a nod to this passage, and in between stops none of us are anywhere but here. This is no epiphany, it would not be so bold, it only strains the suggestion of one incubating in the chest, but holding back, too humble to intrude on the next inhalation. Who needs another revelation now? There is only the weight of our bodies, this body, the man in scrubs sleeping on his feet with his hand on the bar above, we know what this is, but Shh. There are meals to make, knots to pray out of, debts that will never be paid, and let’s not get into all that right now, not here. Only hold.