His back toward us, he faces history
and history is armed
with AR 47s, water cannons, grenades,
Andrew Jackson, and Natty Bumppo.
They myth of water is permanence.
The myth of war is purpose.
The myth of America is America,
spilling all over our computer screens,
soaking us to the root.
His back toward us, he faces history
Philadelphia smelled like Vermont today,
after light rain. A fly buzzed
four or five clusters of crocus.
The sky draped with gray.
There are no stones in the Jewish cemetery
under the new president.
Our hearts are broken in half, evenly.
Lord, teach us how to care.
The branches are blurred like webs and ask me
to come in. I am only a poet. Am I holy enough?
The day a little gloomy, sky
not exactly low but grackles
higher than they ought to be,
their oily, boat-wake tails
dragging worn-out clouds.
And that finch song, isn’t it garbled,
I’ve seen the future and it will be
puffy-eyed. We’ll rise like an army
of teeth, you and me seeded in sick earth
to grow into what might be: strange,
beautiful shunned in this apartment
third from the sun.
The mood of the river is to glitter
which also is a way to deflect,
if I had to name its surface,
I’d say it was the color of a sweaty disco tank.
Color is how we comprehend the length of light
and what constitutes darkness is not without controversy;
Ghosts ruined our party. We were a mess
when the lampshade began to shake.
I was so drunk on whiskey and salt and
the fluids of your body. A faux-Greek
vase on the table. Dead yellow roses.
A staple of our culture is to intuit
words before they are spoken. I raise
my body from the crouching position and
look through a small telescope to see
your deepest space. From a distance
My bag disappeared
with my passport, my keys
a little vial containing
a sliver of bone.
I was stalked by an ordinary man.chop! chop! read more!
I walked alone at night inside the throbbing dome of men
who thought I was a man
and did not assault me
I found you bloated and glowing on the bed
you unscrewed my nipples to a Janet Jackson track until
a pile of warm jewels poured into your cupped palm
you thought I was a girl
I didn’t know what to thinkchop! chop! read more!
I made it to the moon and nothing changed.
If I had something urgent to say nothing changed.
If I made it beyond the moon, lost in so much distance,
Space out of space out space, nothing changed.
Perhaps a fiercer loneliness.
All the fruits bursting
with prophecies without
an easy way through the
branches of apricot tree.
Outside, the snow crowded
to drown the lives. My hands
a wet door that could never
hope for the faith of miracles.
When I lift the lid of the compost bin
heat swells toward me, the first layer:
clippings from grass mown as soon
as the rain dries. Farley said, If you cut hay
still green it’ll set the barn on fire. When it
breaks down it’ll heat up and combust.
At the bottom, red worm slivers weave
intricacies in watermelon rind, husk
a sky reproduced in pixels. or oil acrylic. to match what then is believed seen. how our seeing displaces the thing itself. how our need to document interrupts the flutter of a heart suddenly awakened to a new love. that this kiss takes on more than what it is or might have promised. the same way your front teeth overlap. or your cheeks turn red when laughing bright loudly. that a white canvas opens immediately to comparisons. of a snow covered plain. or the smooth opening of your pale stomach.
she plunged below the line of the ocean and
saw lava exploding into the emptiness she saw
sea become land when we came to this place
there were myths and shadows and people and
we joined them becoming lava exploding
into steps that a man could climb
Its shadow is helpless here
festering the way your fingers
lean over the watermarks
not yet covered with paper
though left in the open
this wall could heal, the butterflies
In a God’s-eye
view all the edges
Tiny but distinct
picnics on a ledge
with his apocryphal lion
on him in particular
does he wonder
if God might prefer him
in stained starving rags
but nowadays your garbled barbles never tasted better. no matter how much your bog moss makes love to the gutter, you still wonder what’s next once you ditch the catfish trap house, with all its iridescent claws a-clash. not everybody can handle a bottom feeder’s garbage trundle, but me? i’m of another puddle. the ones who’d rather eat their demons than leave them to their own diseases. the ones who never lost that most primeval thanatoxic fever.chop! chop! read more!
Scientist of The Lambs
Scientist on the western front
Scientist I’m hunting rabbits
Scientist speak no evil
Scientist not at the dinner table
Scientist after 11pm
Scientist curfew in effect
Scientist silent majority rules
Scientist not your voice in anger
Scientist secret ball gag
Scientist John Cage 4’33”
Dear June, I read your letter from the woman whose date stole a bottle of rosemary from her cabinet, and I thought you could help me with my problem. Recently I went on a first date with a guy some friends set me up with. He took me to dinner at a very nice restaurant. Everything was going pretty well for a first date. I thought he was cute, if not super handsome, and we had some things in common as far as books and politics and basic life goals are concerned. But then came dessert. I ordered a slice of their famous chocolate cake with raspberry butter cream icing, and he said he would have the same. He asked me if I wanted more wine, and I said no and ordered tea. He ordered a large glass of milk! I was totally turned off by this. What do … chop! chop! read more!
along the pathway through live oak
and cedar trees ant trails lead
to dead cicadas and worms
I look for lichen-covered twigs
and a piece of prickly pear
to dry and paint on canvas
Midnight ticks in a quiet lab around
one sleepy dork who, suddenly sits up,
hearing two black holes larger
than Manhattan as they merge to one
unimaginably extreme black nothing
Black skin tastes better when
the wheat has already been
threshed; just a kiss. I watched her “paint
her face” from the field through the
window. Death bruises like a
tornado; the land is new. We had
only just arrived when the
tornado came and tore everything
up. Watch the eye sweep him up into
I flick brother’s ear;
say you could hide something
in here. Stonefruit maybe,
or the yolks we collect
from Narragansett. Our skin
yellow-like, hair both brush
I can hold
for three minutes flat
in the superstore aisle
in my head or
at the counter
like it’s underwater
in my lungs and
When I first showed up the halo of my silhouette
dissolved like a jolly rancher
I began to put my mouth on every darkling
tried to eat away as much of it as I thought I could
After a couple of missing molars
I smeared my hand across my face
In a state of self-devour
I wore my bloodied ghost like a surgeon’s mask
Leafing out, the trees blur in green mist,
celandine poppies bright fingerprints
at their feet. The persistent creek has hollowed dips,
roundels, arches into the limestone floor.
Waterleaf, twinleaf, spring beauties wander beside
blueeyed Mary, larkspur.
The trout lilies are mostly gone,
Jacobs-ladder has not yet arrived,
seersucker sedge returning, green fists
knocking along the slopes.
I remember when the doctor first told me
the red-with-yellow-frosting sores on my legs
were something called impetigo, all I heard
was tiger, and I thought maybe I was morphing
into a tiger or that I would soon have tiger
superpowers or, at the very least, that I shared
the same awesome disease that tigers get. So
you’ll understand my disappointment when after
two weeks of my mother dabbing at scabschop! chop! read more!
And that spring a man beat his
then ran off with her jewelry
and SUV. Judge set bail
at $77,000, said man cannot
ever contact her (in critical
condition). Week earlier
I had moved home, back in with
my own grandma. At 29,
hadn’t lived in Florida
for nearly six years. I heard
of this senior attack on
the six o’clock news.
If I opened my eyes
from this pretended sleep,
I wouldn’t be salting
the driveway before dawn,
though the snow stopped
and the air’s no longer freezing.
The trees would speak their silent
part. Swallows would arc
through the brightening sky.
And we would not be as we are.
Today’s look: be merciful
I gently suggest
that you check the earth on which you stand—
Ye are actually pretty rich
My friends, we have a job
Step aside Mother Earth
Vote or the dark happens
If it still happens, is this foreshadowing?
Do presidential candidates cry when traveling?
Politics is unfit for love
when I frown
into this mirror
a depth takes
inside there is a little white man
pages used unused
someone else’s car / a big dude dragging me up a flight of stairs / seeing my brother / we’re in his dorm / I don’t acknowledge him, because of the amethyst in the corner / loving its purple color / trying to eat it but failing because it’s a stone/ barricading myself in his dorm room/ the big dude breaks down the door / drags me out / kiss him on the cheek/ slaps me in response / hours later / I’m on my knees / my mouth drychop! chop! read more!
I lose the trail, or it eludes
me. Led astray, the bent-down saplings
keep their flex, may even rise.
A door you thought locked,
not. How riddles work.
Sometimes the truth’s warped
I mean wrapped in humor,
& often the simplest unnerves
the hurt the most. I relapsed.
This November blew
down to the just-reaped
fields a hectic
More golden leaves
than fevered leaves
but the fevered
claimed the land
in the way
that we call fair.
On my flight back to Washington at 4 am
in air marbled by night and snow
I leaned against the oval glass and saw
tiny bodies of light pushing slowly
down the mountain roads, each sphere
its own life full of sideways winds.
So They Will
Time is the lightbulb burning for the first three traffic lights
And blinking after that
Is the side street slick with remainder
And a storm cloud trying to drown
from the protest We pour
water from the bottle another marcher
gave us over this temporary
sign With my wet and dirty
hand Lifting the fist
I would vote with Taking the side
of my arm and smearing it out
and horns crawl like an apology out of my skull;
my tongue splits in two and gropes the air
in front of my mouth. I need two tongues, you see.
One for me and one for my grandmothers.
One for Yahweh and one for Shekhinah.
One for the body and one for the blood
they would have you think was theirs.
Suspect in transgender slaying says ‘manhood’ was threatened”
– NY Daily News, April 1, 2016
Manhood: more fragile
than the hollowed-out egg I practiced pysanky on.
More frangible than the hem
of snowbank in early March.
More delicate underfoot
than the infant seachop! chop! read more!
argue over semantics while
decapitated bodies and babies litter
hospital floors in aleppo and
not-my-president unites with Russia in
a fight with common enemy number 1
terrorism and extremism and
hoses spray ice and gas and bullets
against water protectors protestors while sophia’s
arm is exposed cartilage and elders ache from
head wounds let’s argue over safety
Two months ago they played FUCK MARRY KILL
He picked me as Fuck and the other brown girl to Marry
Kill was a white girl who changed her name a lot
Anna then Ann then Anne then Anna again
Marry Girl told me, I wasn’t there
He would have been my Kill, so you know
Then when the president was elected he yipped his pitchy yip
Marry Girl shrugged and told me, don’t forget
That they think of things when they see us
And especially when they see us together and recall
There is more than one here
this is not an essay. no, this is not that. not a poem. not a bomb. not hydrogen. this is not blackface. not a pledge to a new allegiance. there will be no cotton picking. there are signs – a cross stump stuck in a lawn, a flag burning. there may be a march, some spring uprising to coincide with fall palettes and patterns, of bodies being flung to concretes, red pastels overshadowing the grainy elements of white hoods floating in the background.chop! chop! read more!
The shoes are made of iron
presumably to preserve the
symbolic footwear, but they are
attached along the Danube’s
stone embankment, so
perhaps the sculptor intended
that the splashing water
would with time
have its own effect;
anarchy isn’t for everyone can you hear me now
find your soul paint here on a saturday night
light is grandfathered in we sit in an ancient garden
dropping flower seeds and breadcrumbs dripping blood
beauty and music descend leaves and petals circulate
in the world the world grows dark and people grow older
x-rays float in the stream two car doors slam two doors down I sing
Walt Whitman With Light On A Lake
The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
The land and the sea, the animals fishes and birds, the sky of heaven and
the orbs, the forests mountains and rivers, are not small themes … but
folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which
always attach to dumb real objects … they expect the poet to indicate the
path between reality and their souls. Men and women perceive the beauty
well enough … probably as well as the poet. You shall ratchet up the moon.
My mother’s mother,
Widow of the Episcopal
Bishop of Idaho, sat her namesake
My sister, seven,
On her lap and sang to her
You’re so ugly, you’re so ugly
You’re such an ugly child
While Carolyn cried and cried.
The lines repeat.
Get cozy. You pull me
under starlit covers, coax
the past from my throat.
The blue-veined suburbs.
Winters gathered like sticks.
My father, when he was there.
Face-first mornings pressed
to the blacktop, the boyish
crackle of skin on ice. And
in the window, a comet
falling, clearing a path
through the trees.
Any interested parties herein? I sought to execute a release, they ended up executing me.
The conscious pain and suffering, while extreme, lasted approximately 30 years. Yes,
I sought to execute a release. Just the good air and the silent situation. All necessary releases.
I left New York behind, the only decent discovery zone for games and diversity.
if he hadn’t planned to go hunting with his father
if his father had kept the rifle locked away
if that day had been overcast, a variation in our state of sun
if I hadn’t been in a distant country
if lightning rods didn’t have to watch the storm clouds come
if the air took shape as a barrier, and not a field for the bullet to seed
if someone was in the house when he came homechop! chop! read more!
I will, and I will
Walk into the morning
Light falling like snow: a flurry:
Life. Cold is and I am.