Just One More Spin

Caps

By your own admission, we were
synonymous with the tide, already
and we had no sympathy for the shore
or the crabs that found each other
there in the sands, and died at midnight.

*     *     *

Best case scenario: time passes
over us like death, quickly and silently
in the middle of the night, watched
only by the gods and their shadows,
and their long list of likes and dislikes. 

*     *     *

“I wish things could be different”
but the birch still grow too tightly to run
quickly through and the “many worlds”
theory keeps me alive in this one because
there’s solace in knowing somewhere, I jumped.

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Druid

Welcome spring. Welcome night.
I bleed through the holes
I make in myself accidentally,
ripping flesh until the train hits.
Blood is nothing more than cells,
millions of them mashed together

— convincing us they are more,
nothing like what they are —
many solids tricking the eye
into seeing liquid. I do the same
with my humanity. Hide me, Anna.
Bury me in the closet, beneath the wood

carvings and loose shirts.
Play the music loud outside
and drown out any cries for help.
Heaven doesn’t give a God-damned thing
for free. First it asks you to walk

slowly into the sun, footprints
the static on the television set.
Jupiter over one shoulder, Mars
over the other. The magician smiles —
the fine art of misdirection.

The greatest thing the devil ever did
was defect. Was love. Was give himself
completely to a cause. Rusted sword.
Dante’s frozen tears falling
like thunder against the hardwood.
Minus the mouth. Divide the time

between us. We are close enough
for you and far too far for me.
The blood flows from my cuticles,
it tastes familiar in the dark.
It soothes me to sleep, blanketed
in the warm night, thick spring.

Carmine

You say my face offends you —
you were happy before you
saw it this morning and it sucked
the life from your soul.

I would say that’s offensive to say

but instead fight to peel the skin
from my skull (larger on the right,
just enough for me to notice).

I love you so much (I begin,
and I am heap of clothes at your toes
that haven’t been the blue
I love in ages) that I wish

I could believe enough to pray
enough, or sacrifice enough
to earn a wish, or have just one
granted in exchange for my soul:

To make the world nothing more
than you and I. Simplify the equation,
remove the other variables and leave
just the two of us. I say that
you make me equal to one.

You say for that to be true,
we have to be less than one individually.

I feel like less than one alone

now that I’ve had this time with you.
How hackneyed, you say, how thick
can you lay it on. (Not a question)

Life is not a romance novel.

I’m prepared for our end. Are you?
A question I’m not prepared for,
I raise my hands, gun uncocked
and sitting on the side of the room.

I’ve never prepared for anything, least
of all that. Even the thought offends me.

Yonkers

In the morning we won’t say anything at all.
We will pile the words high, stuff them
into one of those vacuum seal bags
and remove their oxygen, until they fit
between our chapped, tight-lipped smiles.

This is a familiar scene — the cold morning
making clouds of us, drawing our moisture
and weakening our limbs. We both shake
with hunger, and exhaustion, and something
fighting against the cage of bones for escape.

Ionic Bonds

A thought exercise:
If I were chasing Love
through a crowded train
moving at the speed of light

and she stayed two strides
ahead of me (unsteady, short
aboard-a-moving-train strides)
and every door was held for her

while I had to fight the handle
and she was entirely faceless
(because no one ever turns back
to look if a seat has vacated

in their wake), just black hair,
blacker than the crows flying
against the snowy, overcast
February morning sky outside,

and a brown coat (my favorite
shade of brown – moist earth
just after the shortest shower)
down to the backs of her knees

and tall boots that drummed
in sequence with my blood —
if I were chasing this woman
named Love, (but pronounced

with a sound unknown to me,
my throat or my alphabet,
something breathy like an “Haa”
but nothing like a “Haa”)

and the train took a fast turn
too fast and went flying
into the icy Hudson and she
came crashing into my arms

and we existed in that moment
of uncertainty, and locked eyes
with doom or death or pain
killers and multiple surgeries —

were we, at any point, moving
faster than the speed of light?

The Hum

Jupiter in slow retrograde.
White tulips in the window.
                      The sign her husband is away.
That old, pitted road to her

house requires a slow approach,
so I park a distance off and walk
instead, while my cartilage is young
                      And my arches haven’t fallen.

We are often worse then what they see,
but better than we think. She whispers

over the aching sound of rain,
over sweet tea and dry skin,
over fleece and stretch marks
and the long reaching scars.

Nina Simone rides the hum of vinyl
and pours through cigarette smoke.
                      Neither one of us blinks all night.

Two people can never love each other the same
— the way you love me; I will never love you.

Outside, the bare branches dress
the hills in bones. We dress our bones
in sweat, and then our sweat in cotton,
                      wrapped tight to keep our organs in.

The Family Plan

I am the Saint of Nothing;
Birdseed blood and snow
falling freely from my lips.
Two thoughts while drowning:

One: The effort needed to stay
my head just above the salt
is proportional to the energy
needed to heat my coffee.

Two: My knuckles hurt. They’re swollen
again and the icy water offers
some relief. Even while she tries
to swallow me, I am drunk on her saliva.

The thick white snow stains
the palisades in reverse. The stone
is the stain. The trees are charcoal
on the fingertips, remnants of shade

on the drawings I flip through
in my mind: my wife in the throes
of passion with another man.
Her smile. His hands. A sweaty mess

of flesh and childbirth. A sleeping oak
wrapped in English Ivy. The final
howl from her, him, me. Agony.
Salt washes the eyes. The bubbles rise.

Anatomy and Physiology

My students look to me for answers
about the purposes of their parts,
their mushy puzzle pieces pushed together
unsteadily, feeling more and more
like falling apart every morning.

I tell them what their liver does,
but leave out what it feels like to drink
a fifth of whiskey over a few hours
on a cold, windless November afternoon.
How the light burns after blacking out.

I tell them about their stomach and intestines,
and why we owe them for our energy.
Not how they’re used to absorb two ambien
while curled up in a dark bedroom, chain-smoking
Newports. Filling the alveoli in our lungs.

They ask me about the heart – the order of flow.
I tell them that I imagine them dying sometimes,
going mad, and massacring one another
while folk music blasts over the classroom speakers
and they offer their blood to ease my soul.

That it starts in my mouth, goes to the right atrium,
ends exiting my left ventricle to a pool on the ground.
No. I don’t. I draw them a heart on the board
and tell them we’ll be done an hour early.
I’m so tired tonight. The snow is coming.

Contrast

This season does such awful things to us,
ice and bone indistinguishable.
Our hands hold the meltwater, fingers dead
and cold and half bent around
the thought of our lovers; their once-there heat.

Maybe the world knows us
better than we’d like to know ourselves.
We came from her dirt, after all.

Maybe she teases us with this little death,
the snow in frozen droves
and piled high on every road that leads us home.

Come back to bed already, her voice honey
on a vinegar tongue; thistle lips.
By tomorrow we will both be dead anyway,
or we’ll still be here.
Her voice honey,
her heart an inflorescence; body desert agave.

Blackberries

We’re halfway dead already. The snow is coming.
It’s a better idea to write
                                           our names now,
while our hands still have their blood
and our lives are still
                                           made of salt and dirt.

Mercury sits high on the horizon,
trailing a long way behind his lover
                                           still wearing her glow.
Mars crosses his path, mockingly.
The Mighty God, with his heart long stopped.

She asks me (from her mound of dirt)
“If we were planets, which would I be?”
And I, the idle ghost, responds
“The sun, my love.
                                           You’re too alive to be a planet.”

With that, she is February in tattered robes.
She is the piano notes, the songstress leaning on them.

“And you? What planet are you then?”
I lay down beside Time, and let it nuzzle my beard.
“Pluto. Where ice is just another form of stone
and no one’s seen my face
                                           or heard my quiet.”