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impetuous mane [Jul. 7th, 2008|08:04 pm]

if it needs time
i should set my watch by the grey hairs i found this morning
in this increasingly ridiculous mane

if it needs space
i should stretch the measuring tape from here to the gulf
and through the miles of black and oily water there

if it needs sunlight,
i should lay shirtless in the grass until my hide is leather
and worn at the shoulders like those thrift store jackets

if it needs water
i should open the pipes, run the taps day and night
and perhaps dip my head in the laundry sink

if it needs earth
i should dig up the bug-eaten, fruitless pimento tree
and find the fertile soil where i was buried last fall

if it needs time
i should set my watch by the grey hairs i pulled this morning
from this increasingly impetuous mane.
i wonder, if i take each grey as i find it,
how long will it take me to pluck my head from its shoulders?

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in the back yard [Jul. 7th, 2008|07:46 pm]

here we have the letter
written seven months ago
and left among the leaves,
under its copper paperweight
in the sun.

the weather was dry all spring.
now the page is brittle
and already old,
rust spreading across the skin of its inks
and fibres.

it was an unremarkable text,
though the missing passages
lend it some mystery,
slow-bleached and censored
by the sun.

lately a light rain has fallen, and
you sit in my garden
trying to decipher the words
running down the page.

but all you can make out is the salutation,
which sat in the shade
with the perennials:

"Today is the first day
of the rest of the week.
And I'll see you next someday
if whensday we speak.

Memories are time machines
so we may never part.
If you can think of your name,
sign by the exclamation mark.

_________________ "

For those who care, I also considered giving this poem. the title "note to self."  And yes, I do realize that seven months ago my backyard was snowed-in.
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. [Jun. 9th, 2007|11:09 pm]
ode to shaving my face

my idle fingers do what they will.
it's a tick
that i'm used to.

how can i blame them
for wanting to pull at the
pieces of me that
i have left too long?
for searching the skin of my face,
the chin where they always find
loose threads to tug?

and here i come
apart, undone
my jaw, so tightly wound,
tongue untied,
unstitched in my itching
that is nowhere in particular
but is just beneath my lips.

and these fingertips pull,
and they pull.  and the words fall
in a heaping mess of twine
by her feet.

watching her step,
she says, "that was his head:
those black-rimmed glasses
and that tangle of thread."
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. [Feb. 18th, 2007|11:05 pm]
there's a room in this house
where i

keep stepping on the same broken floorboard
keep mending it with nails and glue
keep putting my foot through
keep landing in the dirt

where the termites are eating

keep pulling out panels
from the walls and the ceiling
to prop up the foundation
but leave the skeleton bare

by this time tomorrow
my body will lean against the concrete
holding up its frame
with my frame

i'll be stiff as a board
i'll be sinking my feet in
in the dirt
where the termites are eating

and above my quiet head,
a wind will whistle through the bones
they will be putting this house back together
with metal and stone.
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we cannot bury the dead [Aug. 29th, 2006|02:37 pm]

August 29, 2006

in a city this close to the sea
we cannot bury the dead.
too soon, too close
to believe the waters will just

so, pile these mountains high
high as their homes
high as the land
high enough
for the world
to see.

the houses still standing
must stand.
the people still standing
must stand.

the city, still swimming,
must not sink.

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(no subject) [Aug. 16th, 2006|03:36 pm]

the wait outside a mother's house
for the young man to arrive,
like the wait outside another's house
when the old man was alive

mist under streetlights,
soft, wet cones of light.
they never reach the ground.

on the porch,
my feet splash as I pace back and forth.
puddles the size of lovers' fists
are forming on the painted wood.
I didn't see it rain.
I didn't see it rain.

he said he would bring those tickets,
said he'd tape them to the weather vane.
how the hell did I lose my north and south?
how the hell did I miss that train?

just like the old man held the arrows in his hands,
he was pointing to both doors.
he said to me "there's no place like home"
then he said "no home like yours."

behind my eyes, the front door is locked.

keys in the young man's pocket rattle as he walks.
deadbolt turned, sliding chain shut.
still stuck on the front steps, I wonder what's
keeping him.

the cones are turned to globes by now,
clouding, crowding, touching one another
but they still don't reach the ground

and somewhere dim construction lights
flashing by the Sally Ann
signal him,
signal him home.

but from my lookout,
the only figures I see in the night
are blowing branches and bus stops.

and I bet he's strolling the wet streets,
singing along to the songs he knows.
because no one can see him through the fog.
who's going to laugh?


I found this in a pile of photographs and letters in my bedroom, in a drawer I don't often open.  I don't remember exactly when I wrote it, but judging by the pen and the style and the structure, my guess is that it was more than two years ago.  But already it was about this feeling I have, this need to travel in tough times.  Already it was about my grandfather, about losing him.  Either I can see the future or I'm always writing the same poem so that bits of it will inevitably come true.

But I think I've found those tickets after all, and here I go.  Wish me luck.
This is going to be the last poem for a while, because

"Reality is the page.  Life is the word"
-David Mitchell, Number9Dream

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rain pelts [Aug. 3rd, 2006|01:57 pm]

rain pelts your window
and the night air rumbles
as a thousand blue-white stallions
stampede overhead.

you hear footsteps shaking city blocks,
and drawing nearer.
you open your eyes
expecting a peeping godzilla to stare back.
but his scaly eyelid doesn't move,
and his footsteps fade
until the patter sound coming through your weather-screen
could as easily be the radio
caught off-station.

you lean back on your mattress,
half-naked for no one,
and listening again.
this is a perfect moment,
or it would be.

then the sky lights up
so bright for so long.
an energy-saver light bulb
the size of the earth,
with those same ugly shadows.

and in the ugly shadow of a townhouse
is where you close your eyes.


in the morning,
the patter is still off-station.

reach up to your headboard.
grab the radio with a firm grip.
and yank hard on the plug.
pieces of drywall come with it.
wrap the cord around the receiver.
wind up.
and pitch that radio out the window.
past the screen,
through the glass,
and into the rain that was.

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radio crackles quiet [Jul. 25th, 2006|12:30 pm]


there is no love that is like music,
that you can sing along to,
or sway with in rhythm.
there is no love that keeps time
or plays its melody in tune.
so when you have that love in your ears,
and you hum it to yourself alone
while you vacuum or shower,
when that love is stuck in your head,
no, that love is not love;
it is just another song
on the radio.

there is no song that is like love, really.
you can lean back in the arms of harmony,
but those arms aren't solid or safe,
those arms aren't firm.
those arms exist for themselves,
of themselves,
of sound.
for you, they are elusive.
and in the very next moment
they are thin air.

and in that very next moment,
when the 3 1/2 minutes are up
and the radio crackles quiet,
only love will switch off that dial,
only love will pick up that phone,
only love will warm with you
and grieve in that radio silence.


It was like having the person on my right flick my ear for weeks, only to get an unexpected sock on the jaw from my left.  Suddenly, the flicks seemed a lot less significant.  Funny how sometimes all it takes is a hard right hook to make you see who's in your corner.
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snap (mél.) [Jul. 24th, 2006|10:40 pm]

gears turn and hum,
but nothing comes
rolling out.
open the machine,
two squares were clean
and I thought
I'd lost it all.

light on light,
these chemicals tonight
like landscapes for our fingers,
leaking far and spreading thin.
my sharp-as-nails,
your smooth-as-sin

exposed exposed again,
your eyes never looking once
at the lens.
your eyes downcast,
split focus glass
the blur of sky
hangs above your head
like a thought bubble.

a thought bubble
like mine, says
and I meant it
every single time.


I guess I'm on a roll tonight.  This one's just for you.  I don't think a poem like this has ever come out of me this fast before.
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pieces of others [Jul. 24th, 2006|10:32 pm]


floating a sunday afternoon on a friday evening,
we skim the surface of the water
where the air doesn't smell of the sea.

my body prone starboard,
I suspend my head inverted over the slow rush,
and out pour the faces of others,
sprinkled into the river.

their skins at sunset,
orange in the light from the trees.
their skins, smooth-as-sin,
slide out of my skull and
sink through the ripples
of my wake.

I shake out the dust of these faces of others,
until my dome is emptied
and I have only my own face
to share with these sailors.

but later, by the boardwalk,
I see pieces like breadcrumbs
washing up on shore,
collecting on shiny rocks,
taking shapes I don't yet recognize.

and I bend to pick up
the pieces I can manage.
I pat them on my shirtsleeves,
and stow them in my pockets.
this way, when they dry and
forgive me for drowning them,
I will have the pieces of others
near my heart,
and not my head.


I wish I was sailing again already.  The air and the company, dissolving the world away with a smile.
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