Tuesday, June 30, 2009

5 A.M

When you shut off the alarm,
because you are already awake,
it makes a noise,
an irritating chirp like some horrific
electronic nuisance bird
and you rub my back
or the curve of my ass to wake me up.
You say my name softly.

I fumble for my glasses,
my stomach growls, possibly hungry
possibly sorry about the extra scotch last night.

You feed the cats.
I turn on the computers.
It is 5 am.

We move chairs,
scraping the hardwood floor.
The teapot whistles.
The computers buzz.

We open windows.
It is 5 am.

Last night, making the last drink
you reminded me that 5 am would come quickly.
As it always does.
I asked out loud, not to you, per say, but out loud
“Why do we keep doing this?”
Why do we get up at 5 am,
to sit in front of this screen.
Every morning.
Where do we think it’s going to get us?
And you answered, even though you didn’t have to,
since we both know that it is just
What We Do.

I wondered to myself what other people do,
for a minute,
but only a minute,
before closing the window
and shuffling down the hall to bed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Conversations with My Mother

My mother tells me she spent all day cleaning the gutters
and pulling out bushes.
She tells me my father is in the shower,
between the age and the cancer
and being out in the hot June sun all day.

And I don’t understand why anyone would go through that.
I tell her, they don’t need to do that, they are old. Who cares?

But she says when you have a house, it’s what you do.

I tell her I would never own a house. Not never. No never.
And she laughs and says if you don’t have kids there is no need.

I tell her we booked the trip to London in October.
I gush about finally seeing Shakespeare’s grave.
She practically swoons. She tells me that she is going there
through me, vicariously.
She tells me to stay in London.
To not come back.
To just keep traveling from one place to another until there is
nothing left to see.

And I don’t have the words to thank her
for understanding that I don’t want a home.
Or a child.
That I just want to keep moving.
That sometimes I can’t close my eyes
worrying about what I might miss.
That even at 32, I swear,
I can hold in my hands how little might be left.

But she probably already knows this.

And I wonder if that is what she would have done.
Had she not been pregnant so young?
But probably not. Traveling tends to wear her out.

Though not as much as cleaning the gutters and pulling out bushes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Her Tattoos

She shows them to me when she comes in,
lifting her shirt,
in the library,
excited to see what I think.
She doesn’t care if the mother’s are watching.
She never cares who is watching.

This is her new obsession,
and maybe also the boys that give them to her.
But it will change too,
because she is young
and when we are young
we can love and hate easier.
The coin stretches the depth of the sea
and we can’t yet feel
the nights that will come,
when they are so close together
sheer like a spider’s thread
when they blur,
and the world flips over,
you, standing there

scarred, frothing, like a mad dog
trapped in the complete imperfection
the mediocrity,
the distant buzzing hum of a phone line going dead.
She doesn’t know yet how hard letting go can be
or what the mirror can tell you.
She hasn’t been shipwrecked, yet.
But she is a woman, and a creator, so it is only a matter of time.

But for now,
she shows me her tattoos
and tells me
as she pulls up pictures on her little phone
what she’s going to get next
because she has so much skin left to cover
and so much time ahead of her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Esplanade Avenue

It was on Esplanade Avenue
where the stars are fixed,
not like here,
with all that forward thinking
and all the glass that stretches up to the sky
in this never ending shine
changing the structure,
the molecules
and how they fit around all that brick.

It was on Esplanade Avenue
where the rust is creeping
oxidizing, where the water table
is right below our feet, 18 inches
and we can dig our way out of this basin
to the swamps where the last dinosaurs
roll and roll and roll.

It was on Esplanade Avenue
where down the street is a house
built 212 years ago, a safe house
for a little king
a warrior,
it is waiting for him still,
with crumbling stone and Dvorak
and we are raking our metal fingers down
Tin Pan Alley for the new American God
of Progress.

It was on Esplanade Avenue
where the old Gods still hide,
ducking behind broken shutters
and spraypaint,
down railroad tracks into blood red skies
under heat
and in whispers
and in little packets of promised treasure
bone, hair, stone, paint.
They are starved but they are still worshiped.

It was on Esplanade Avenue
under the fixed stars
that time stopped
where a wild woman
a possessed thing
raked the ground
hauled up the dirt of someone’s garden bed
and hide your secrets.

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to Talk to Them

The bartender asked me first if I was squeamish
before uncapping my beer
and setting the already sweaty bottle
on the bar.

I answered,

and she leaned over the bar
so that I could see the tattoo between her breasts
even better
and she took my hands in her hands
and ran my fingers across the her forehead
pushing hard at certain points
so that I could feel all the ridges,
the bolts and metal plates
that hold her face together.

“A crowbar,”
she says,
“Took my face off down to the eyeballs,”
she says with a snort.
We had been talking about New Orleans
and New York City so I wasn’t sure where it happened.

One could be mugged with a crowbar anywhere on this lonely planet, I guess.

She tells me about how she saw a surgery show one time
and watched a woman have a her face taken off,
“That’s what they did to me,” she said with a degree of wonder
as if, were it possible, she would hover over that operating table,
a beer-slinging ghost of herself and watch them peel back the skin
to see the deep dark underbelly of her very own skull.
Watch herself be taken apart and put back together again.

I tell her I fell off a waterfall and split my skull open too.
I like the way it sounds when I say it like that,
to her.
She nods.
Earlier when we came in, the only two in the bar,
cardboard boxes full of beer bottles,
warping in the heat, she let us in even though she wasn’t set up.
She said she could do with the company.
Her name was Michele and she said us redheads have to stick together.
“Even if it ain’t real.”

This was just one of those times,
where you find one of those souls
that maybe you knew a million years ago
when you met on a deserted island
or in a pub at the end of the world, past Death Valley
or deep down in the sweaty hull of a ship
full of iron weapons that can take you apart.

but when you see them again,
because you survived,
you know how to talk to them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What the Men Tell Me

They talk
the Men
and this is what the Men tell me
which really they are just telling each other
I just happen to stand between them.

They tell me about voodoo
about a man’s who lost his penis after picking up a dollar
about a woman who lost a breast on the bus in Nigeria.
No not lost, it was stolen, the Men tell me.
They tell me about shamanism,
about the power of a feather,
about learning to talk to animals.

They tell me I haven’t seen anything, not really.
They tell me about power.
They talk about power for a long time
and I nod.
This is what the Men tell me.

And then they tell me about Venus
about living in space in the no-zone empty
dark black vacuum with no air and no light and no love
and no appreciate for all the work given
and given and given and what have they gotten back,
the Men want to know.

They tell each other, over my head,
that they have seen things no one would believe,
a man who can’t be killed,
a man whose bones heal themselves,
a riot, a union card, the never ending tales of
a Child of the Sixties, that is what the Men tell me.

And I haven’t said anything yet.
I am just letting them talk
because I can see that if and when they stop
they will have nothing left to say.

So I listen, and I nod,
and this is what the Men tell me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pass the Season

These moments are just little snapshots,
frozen celluloid dimensions
where I keep these secrets.
It’s like a flip book,
no a journal,
black words written on
fallen dry leaves,
hard bone,
white snowflakes,
dandelions, seashells
pasted together by the hands of the children
we will never have.

I realized that everyone must be careful.
while making these little choices
to keep
or not keep
things for themselves.

Women who rage with dissatisfaction,
with the blood boiling need for the things
they aren’t getting. Women who hammer and nail
and cobble together a Frankenstein.

Men who fail
and turn that failure into food
and eat and eat and eat it. They board buses
and disappear in the middle of the night
curious about blowjobs and murder.

This is how we steal.
And damage.
And undo.

This is how we kill for God.
This is how we pass the seasons.