Tuesday, January 31, 2012

these gaps of us

these gaps of us

My mind is racing
As it always will
My hand is tired my heart aches
I'm half a world away here…
My shoes are gone
My life spent…
“Half a World Away,” R.E.M., Out of Time

“All love serenades must come to an end….As she gazes
at Milton in the newsreel, her eyes fill with tears
and she says out loud, 'There was nowhere I could go
that wouldn’t be you.'”—Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

i have weighed myself daily for seventy days
but scales cannot reveal what i am missing


although i know that you missing is heavier
than anything i have ever felt or lifted

and there is a certain hollowness that echoes
inside my chest and ears endlessly but silent

there have always been gaps of us
beginning with the nearly four decades
before you walked into my world
and then crawled into my chest like a song

but the gaps of us always held the promise
of crossing paths once again inevitable
and warm as the rising sun or your just words
written spoken or whispered in my memory

until now or more accurately then

that last moment that i did not know was last
hovering always above me like an anvil or rhyme
stationary but never falling or revealing
that other word to consummate the patterns of us

i weigh the same but am empty
i fear that soon i’ll float away

and no cast can mend a broken heart
no prosthetic can replace this amputation

i tread in the wake of my memories
and confess in a catechism of whispers

i am not equipped for this
i lack the capacity to survive

this gap of us now rendered forever

Sunday, January 22, 2012

loss is just a word

loss is just a word
I am breathing water.
I am breathing water.
you know a body's got to breathe.
"Undertow," R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi 

you're putting on a shirt
a shirt I'll never see
"Lucky You," The National, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers

loss is just a word for where you no longer are
with me

but losing you?
not something i can really do

(on the night of winter solstice
in the time when you were gone

i dreamed of summer's sun
and woke alone&sweating)

absence&forgetting are frail foes to memory
coursing through my veins

you are everywhere&always
although i am not sure you ever trusted

that i could smell you enter any room
even before i would see you

so on a starry full-moon night
or when the sun is high and the day is warm

i can lie on the earth and press my palms to dirt or grass
and, yes, there you are

walking sock-footed across carpet in a room
where i am not

Friday, January 13, 2012

light (the irretrievable allure of outdoors)

light (the irretrievable allure of outdoors)

And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be.
…Now all I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme,
Juliet, I'd do the stars with you any time!
“Romeo and Juliet,” Dire Straits, Making Movies

rM126 realized one day

hospitals, school, and work had one thing
in common—banks of fluorescent lights

but his whole life had been inside so far
(only stories told of sunshine and outside)

then one day he stood in the blinding light
that had been his entire life indoors

feeling a nagging sense that this glare
was somehow not all that existed

when he heard a female voice say (he thought)
outdoors as if the world stopped spinning

he turned and his eyes landed on jC316
clicking his racing mind into gear thinking

what could the sun feel like against my skin
what could my lips feel pressed against hers

things he was forbidden to think or do inside
the only life and world he had been allowed

and he felt for the first time his heart there
as if expanding too large for his chest and mind

he knew that he would have to tell her this
he knew that he would have to ask her to risk

the light outdoors not the light indoors
and the irretrievable allure of things done


Thursday, January 12, 2012

bone-deep (after the scarring)

bone-deep (after the scarring)

three psychiatrists, sixteen surgeons, and eighty-two operations

but they all agreed this was the only way
to erase her from the skeleton of him

surgery after surgery
this scraping away
of her from his bones

weeks turned into months
and months to years
erasing and healing

and in the end he found himself
disrobing and walking around
the apartment he filled with mirrors

watching the stitches crisscrossing
and conjuring this new him
absent her once tattooed in bone

then they all had to agree despite it all
there she remained
these hieroglyphs scarring his skin

Friday, January 6, 2012

reading a biography (in the absence of you)

reading a biography (in the absence of you)

i found myself sitting in my office
suddenly crying april 11, 2007

having just learned Kurt Vonnegut died

& this lingered for days & days
sudden sweeping tears & anguish

for this man i never met or knew
except for words that poured into print

then more than four years later
i sat in my bed reading his biography

“He died April 11, 2007” its last sentence

& again tears filled my eyes & my chest heaved
although this is the only way biography can end

(i toyed with reading it backward page by page
like Billy Pilgrim watching the movie of war)

but this second time was in the shadow
of the absence of you

my realization that you were not there
& you would never be there again

although you still walk this earth
having chosen to set me aside for another life

this second crying is selfish & empty
like the refrain of loneliness

running though Vonnegut’s life
like a blue thread in a black black cloth

Thursday, January 5, 2012

precious infidelity (bibliophilia)

precious infidelity (bibliophilia)

he fell in love for the first time
really fell deeply in love
in high school

(but this is not about girls
or women

with those love happened
much earlier and spontaneously

and has failed each time
or at least he has failed them)

this is falling in love with books
and it is the plural that is precious

he often reads two or three books at once
and he never has to hide his cell phone

or pretend he is reading only one book
and he carries them all together everywhere

this book holds his heart as others have and do
and there will be more and more and more

this orgy of unbridled reading and touching
each page where he underlines and highlights

this bibliophilia is absent jealousy or possession
although paper pales against bone muscle and skin

flirting with a life only spoken

flirting with a life only spoken

We’re drunk and sparking, our legs are open
Our hands are covered in cake
But I swear we didn’t have any
“The Geese of Beverly Road,” The National, Alligator

someone had to tell him
and even then he may not have listened

a recipe is not a cake

he had a certain affection for words like trapeze
or parachute or the curve of her neck when she’s laughing close-eyed

but he couldn’t even compel himself to watch the movie
of the man who found himself trapped by his arm under a boulder

much less swinging through the air high above the ground
or leaping from a plane with only cloth and rope to guide him down
or leaning close to press his face and lips against her humming throat

no he did not need to make decisions about cutting himself free
in order to return somewhat disfigured to a life being lived

instead his was less dramatic: flirting with a life only spoken
narrated like a voice-over in a movie always being filmed

people had made him think
over and over about this bag of rocks

he gripped until his knuckles turned white
and his wrist ached to the point of breaking

it became this thing of carrying with no intent
no quarry left or sought for his bag of rocks

just a denial like an oath or solitary confession
shouted in an empty forest of trees bare of leaves

paralysis was more than a word however
for him

like stasis
or Sisyphus always in pause at rock and hard place

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

some times (disguise)

some times (disguise)

some times
i say "hello"

and i mean
"i love you"

some times
i send you songs

and i mean
nearly beautiful as you

some times
i offer nothing

and i mean
you are everywhere in me

some times
"some times" means "always"

can you for me
some times be?

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo

it may be the symmetry
fifth month fifth day

just as spring raises
its soft soft head warmly

but he knew it was her
a mouth warm wet blossoming

& he knew the celebration
the beer & wine & food

were no mere piñatas
or sombreros on the sidewalk—

it was that her mouth had said
i am yours, all of me, yours

without speaking a word
until his blood knew:

yo no puedo hablar acerca del amor
pero la boca y las manos lo pueden mostrar

a banana, peanut butter, & two slices of wheat bread (a koan)

a banana, peanut butter, & two slices of wheat bread (a koan)

"Used with moderation, a first-class verse is an excellent and unusually fast-working form of heat therapy."
Seymour--An Introduction, J. D. Salinger

it was there
he paused

considering the first bite
of the peanut butter & banana sandwich

at what point to take the first bite?

& if he changed today
would the entire world spin differently


(the question was like sitting
in bright early summer sunshine)

shoes (did you know)

shoes (did you know)

there we were in a hotel room

alone & together
a rare & precious thing

me watching you
take out those shoes
cork platform soles with long white cloth straps for your ankles

& as you carefully put on each shoe
wrapping & unwrapping
to get them just right

i wondered if you knew
when you bought them
that this would fill my chest

& now that this moment is behind us
when you are putting on those shoes
do you pause thinking of me

a man carrying that memory
beneath the surface of his skin
itching to untie those shoes

slipping them from your feet only

facades & fingertips

facades & fingertips

“to be that self which one truly is”
Soren Kiekegaard

take off
your make-up
& your clothes

& please come
to me—

i’ll trace you
all of you
with my fingertips—

(this is much more
than a sexual request)

the tiny red dot
on the bridge
of your nose—

the spider veins
& scars & bruises
over your legs—your legs—

show them to me—
reveal them all to me—
give your Self to me—

give yourself to me—

            because—it is you—
            i am here for—
            my eyes hungry—
                        these flaws of you—

            i swear—i shout—
            it is you—these layers of you—
            i am here for—

turn around—
spin around—
roll over me—
            over&over me—

here—i am looking—
looking for you—
reaching for you—
searching for the me of me—

            inside of you—
            my eyes closed—




“What's the Czech for ‘Do you love him’?” Guy, Once

i used to make you smile and laugh
aching for and with

as you, me

the attraction marrow-deep
pulling as if gravity

or god were a puppeteer—

(in the pictures you sent
you and yours are smiling

as i, looking at them)

do people carry tambourines
rattling the rhythms of song

as if a movie or music video?

because there are songs that pull
at me like you

my head rocking

the music and lyrics
stronger than the physics of planets

or deities with string

and it your song always
vibrating through me

as water or oxygen

tap dancing marionettes us

semiotics: nothing done in haste

semiotics: nothing done in haste

did she do that
for me alone

her hair done that way
& the turquoise ribbon

not like the women
doing their faces
as they drive to work

making faces
for anyone
done in haste

did she do that
for me alone

the tilt of her shoulders
as she walks along the beach

her hand held
just that way

left foot ahead
of the other

one heel lifted slightly
above the sand

& the entire skin
of her among shadows

leaving me undone
and wordless

this sunken ship
beached beneath the tide

i wave at this picture
of her walking away

saving face
done for me alone

the language of should

the language of should

i know what i should do now—
of course
i have always known—

as if knowing is something
simple and clear
as ice formed on my fingernails

but should is no more a part of me
than not loving you—
as i know i should leave that behind—

listening over and over
to a song about letting go—
doing as he should and she wishes. . .

there is a much different story
here however—

a story of the bone of the matter
nailed, sanded, shaped with care

a story of being that is beyond should
and bitter to the fingertips

but this story can fill a glass
or make your eyes well up

unlike the commandments offered
in the language of should

in this story he built a house—
a façade in fact

an igloo of stucco and wood—
only the appearance of ice

like the appearance of letting go
if i were to bow before leaving

the intoxicating (and thus the war)

the intoxicating (and thus the war)

you drank three beers
and i had to continue across
the surface of this earth

as if i weren't thinking
about how your lips
must taste of beer and you

this intoxicating you
leaving me lost inside
the smell of you nearby

do the beers
leave you weak
in the knees and ankles

the way your
knees and ankles
leave me weak

as soon as i smell
you enter a room
turning to see. . .

and thus the war. . .

it is my body
longing and calling
for the intoxicating

to shut off the mind
or at least drown out
the thoughts fretting

over right and wrong
fair and unfair
what other people might think

just walking to you
taking you in my arms
and kissing you fully

and it is this argument
my body fights for
in the war with my mind:

nothing else truly matters
in the intoxicating momentum
of your flesh and blood and bone

if you and i were passing
and i slipped falling
reaching for you to save me

and my craving hand
clasped your soft grip
kindness sighing through your lips

would any single soul
ask if this were fair or right
our reaching without thinking?

hey, hey my body pleads
for my mind to call your way
i am always falling falling falling

i breath near you
as close as possible
to taste your soul again

these metronomes

these metronomes

these metronomes
of hair and hips

like beatings hearts
and the mindlessness of breathing

you there
walking or jogging

and twisting my heart
taking my breath away

these metronomes
calling out to my bones

are there marching orders
for the springtime. . .

like clouds of pollen swarming
and trees swayed by warming wind. . .

like sleeveless shirts
and pants o so short. . .

like a sound track to the cycles
and dances of crisscrossing our planet. . .

i am left tapping out the rhythm
of my hands reaching for the swaying

curves of you waving waving to me

shoulder into arm ringed in tattoo. . .
where your thumb and finger meet. . .
the tightening of skin over ankle bone. . .

tick-tock hair
tick-tock hips
tick-tock steps

these metronomes
driving me to songs of longing

can you hear my fingertips calling you
playing air piano and drum calling

silent whisperings
these metronomes

she could

she could

she could fold herself into her desk,
and we worshipped her—
posed like a virginal, erotic buddha

we, adolescent and male, idolized her delicate pose,
legs intertwined and a casual wrist against her jaw—
our imaginations fractured by beauty

she was thin and fragile as each of her hairs
and pristine as shattered glass—
the treasured fragments embedded in our bare feet

we were no mere spectators kneeling, always kneeling
at her throne, at her carelessness—
scattered pulses of urgency and dedication to fire

she anointed us with indifference and a toss of her head,
although she basked in the warmth at her ankles—
the flames were inside and out for us

we took her though, eventually, covertly, stored in our minds
as if the crystals worked up through our flesh into our brains—
her, folded like a magic, yellowing letter in our memories

no one teaches us

no one teaches us

no one teaches us
to love

it doesn’t happen to us
it happens in us

it is a tripping and stumbling
this falling in love

and when it is true
it is also deep

and this falling
lasts forever

some people scoff
saying it is just pheromones

as if the chemicals of us
must be less than our decisions

(so if i did not chose to love you
that means less than this TV i chose?)

and no one teaches us
to breath in and out

and no one teaches us
to pull our hands from a flame

“no one ever teaches us
anything worth knowing or doing”

this is what he told his students

“i could make you do many things
by force of harm or prize”

his heart was gone by then

“but this is what people will do
telling you right and wrong”

his body had given it away to her

“as if anyone could know
what to teach another”

it was hard to talk always falling

“no one teaches us to love
it happens in us like a dream”

he held on to things breathing deeply

sometimes when he was talking
(people still called it teaching)

he stood with one hand
clutching something nearby

the other raised slightly
fingers opened and palm up

at night he slept and dreamed
holding on to the headboard

because no one teaches us
to fall into our dreams either

then what does a teacher do
who no longer believes in teaching

then what does a lover do
who has lost the one he loves

then what does a human do
too far below the surface

then what does a person do
with everything engulfed in flames

no one teaches us
to reach for the hand that matters

“what other conclusion could any of us


blouses & skirts

blouses & skirts

she            keeps pressing
her hand
            to her chest,
closing off her breasts
from my eyes (the possibility of my eyes)

fighting her v-neck
flaring open
every time she moves

never realizing
her knees, calves, and ankles
            there below her skirt—
no hose, bare and shaved smooth
as living, polished ivory, though tanned—
are my fascinations,
me staring at the crossing and uncrossing

the dangling shoe
from a bare foot,
            a slip of the hem
exposing a knee

flagging me to worship there
at her feet

as she clutches at her own heart—
mine pounding,
            walked on,
kicked and stomped and smothered and scissored,
by those legs,
joint to joint,
hip, knee, ankle:

            i buckle from the weight


boa (wearing my daughter around my neck)

boa (wearing my daughter around my neck)

i am wearing
my daughter
around my neck

bound to wander
telling my story
of failing her

this is what
people do asking
how is your daughter?

and my story
repeats itself
a cyclic plot

she doesn't care
the way i care

she doesn't seem sad
the way i am sad

she doesn't notice
the way i notice

the pull of an adult child
around the neck
hangs heavier than human weight

i love my daughter
i love people who care
how do i love a daughter who doesn't care?

and i grow tired
weary of my voice
and the story i tell and retell

if—pining (my three-legged-table life)

if—pining (my three-legged-table life)

if this were an ideal world—
not ideal, just undisturbed, balanced—

where my words wouldn’t
overturn my three-legged-table life
knocking everything—every thing
onto a tiled floor—
spilled, broken, irreparable, irrecoverable—

fine delicate cups and plates—
this life of mine—
filled with scalding coffee
and food that spoils in the heat—

if this were a balanced world
then i would say to you—
just before kissing the curve of your neck
just before pulling you to me
my hand on the small of your back—
i would say to you:

satin sheets have nothing on you—
not warmth or lure or pleasure or comfort—
absolutely nothing on you—
except the freedom from my pining
my fruitless inexpressible

but it is my three-legged-table life
with settings arranged, the food served

so i offer instead my incomplete wordless apologies
and the softest place at the center of me
where you can lie without disturbing
this high-wire act by an essentially clumsy man

the sorry is retroactive and preemptive
no ifs