Shift change at the city gates.
The turning happened where we almost ended, feeling the old king’s gaze, the walls of his long sleep around him, each drowsy syllable dripping from the mouth a study in the effects of subatomic explosions.
How long? We wondered, had been wondering. We shivered, had been shivering, naked in the shadow of the fortress. The next cold rain started a whisper among us, in the direction of concessions. What was the point? with the freeway cars above us hissing Yes.
We could have run then. I think we almost did. But one dropped her knees to the grass and then her ear, and we followed, to hear who was coming beneath our soles to be counted, even now.
In the late days of long wars.
We wanted to mend, so kept company with our mothers’ ghosts. Our yesterdays were wounded and came to us until every bed was full.
O muse. Your song was bleeding out.
We brought cloths and went to you. We wrapped you tight and held against the flow. It entered then.
We are still, holding.
Regarding the ongoing restoration project.
And I watched another raging hero with the priest, disputing the last claim to spoils of war––at the end of another bloody year, another daughter’s ransom, and the muzzled prophet muted, and I know you sent your heralds, but their words were weak against the noise. You said I had to learn to let things be as they are, but who was I to untie myself of every assumption inherited at altitude? Even the clouds are flying now from the weight of this constellation of atoms, held fast while the widening day goes on, denying all assurances that tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow will return from the place where it flew off right now, to somewhere past the sight lines, out of reach.
That you may one day know a lens not terror, a posture not crouched, sounds neither siren nor drone, and weathers unrhymed with death count. Food to offer, not to reap, and time as a ladle to be passed to the tune of Here, take it. Take what you need. Did you get enough? when no host will rest until everyone is so full that they lose the count, numbers blurring back into beginning, and no one thinks to save the light for when it leaves us.
Long view from well bottom.
Reminder: you will not be always in this gnawing gut at the center of your terror, and you will laugh again, and love someone who smiles back at you still. Even as you look away now, afraid to push your luck when it comes to what may be saved, you are raised to take less than anyone’s idea of deserving and that face tastes like the last memory you need. To hold that gaze from this deep a vantage for finding still this little light. A want to yell, Go, and keep them in it.
The feathered chest-dweller
coughs. We cannot hear
her song. We gather
at the ribbed rafters,
a motley congregation
of morose faces, to wait,
sensing her watch.
Perhaps she wants
but there isn’t a crumb
Then comes a low hum,
spreading through the nave
of our assembly until
our mouths drop the lines
that seal them.
Opened, we pour out
syllables of grief
too sharp to speak,
that she may absorb
enough to form
Responding to Dickinson.
Field notes from the ground.
Once I ached to mature into a kind of effervescent grace of quiet luminosity, but it is something else to recognize that I am still the child on the floor, stacking pieces from a pile of scattered blocks like some aftermath. My hands have traded their dimples for veins, having somehow passed straight through elegance without so much as a pause, in their haste to build some appeal, but to what?
Perhaps to a continuance of the possibility of making anything, especially when it has become so obvious to go without saying (but, clumsy as I am, I’ll note it here): so much ends with falling. Or perhaps to this insistence: because it always falls in the end, I will build.
It will not last. It is a double-edged marvel, the not lasting and the way it sometimes holds just long enough to find a witness. Once, I felt the brush of the toddler’s eyelash at my cheek. One day, before the next fall, it still seems possible to climb some crumbling arrangement of dream fragments––and leap.
Of intentions and nourishment.
Born carried away, of a desire that will neither die nor introduce itself by name to a stranger, it becomes obvious that I am that, too. So taken––from every place and the self, too––I cannot arrive.
At the end of everything, when the flow continues, so does this singular insistence. Bleed.
Hand opens soil to hide these delicate hopes, even at the end and especially then. Flower? Maybe. Of course, they will be trampled, as lives are. And yet. They will live, too. There is no certainty in this, but there it goes, happening.
sounds called what we would not say
until the shadows in our ears besieged
our remainders we screamed
for their release but they stayed
laughing into our wet faces
we could not see them
or our faces where we stayed
the stank breath of death rot
creeping through our breaths
stopping the songs
we meant to sing
of how we flew
after scratching our snakeskins
we were removed and outside
we could not hear the songs
in the street as the dragon still
spread the photos called
our monsters out
to hush them back
Time ran off
we had the babies’
toothless mouths looking back
lining their faces in half-moons
on our beds and with them looking back
we kited from the cells anchored
by the buds of lost mothers in our teeth
to one day fit ourselves back
into homes we had once carried
on our backs before we left
before the after
we left it
back there for the
The tracks uncross, uncoupling the stars in our eyes. It is late and the light won’t train toward the alley by the liquor store on Broadway. Saturday night leaks greasy blues against neon signs for lotto prizes and fast-food payday loans. The discount tire guy waves and falls, to be raised again, a blow-up Lazarus. Alive.
The buzz of broken streetlights reminds that everyone is hanging as you are, by the thread to which we’ve tied some whispered prayer. Give us this day, our daily bread––no, never mind, take it back. Regrets fur like smoke at the crosswalk, teasing, Go. Not Yet. Hurry. You’ll miss it again.
My eyes hurt. Show me one thing blooming. Here they are, cellophane-wrapped with other plastic-plated symbols of significance, ready for purchase, bright tokens. Pang of grief, but you work with what you have. The hungry eye learns to make do. The gas station oasis lit to magnify the lines on the faces in line, we avert our eyes in respect for one another’s naked needs.
If not this day again, give me something. I pay to spill back onto Broadway. Beneath the glow of a No Vacancy sign, I wait to cross, sated now, the stems in hand. There are others on foot, and we stand at the banks. Not yet, don’t go. You can feel something hold us by the words we still won’t speak, nudging toward the next chance to give it all away.