Not the beautiful but the stuff that chases.The
makes you want to spend the night, or a week
in Melbourne, near the Yarra River:footbridges.
Cafe signs that say:
Tea Cup ReadingHot/Cold Luncheons
The stuff that makes you pack up your frayed orange toothbrush,
that travel-size handcream and your favorite blue pillowcase
and leave the country, when you are too poor even
to buy yourself good walking shoes.
It is what makes facing the tidy hotel room
twice a month, easier.
The stuff that wills you, exhausted of the search, to still go
for redemption every unmanageable morning.
Or the wheatfield near Sundvallen in Oslo radiant.Even without
It keeps you forever packing and unpacking
your faith in others.The way you never really give up.Not
Some of it this stuff catches fire.Some
of it brings up your wreckage.
Much of it explains little: a pipe with text saying This Is
Not a Pipe.
Some of it is almost entirely about ugliness:
ribbons connecting pain to pain and nothing else.
Frida Kahlo connects Womb to Accident.
I might connect Light to Ache.
Or Two to Nothing.
One word balanced on each side of the and
and I get ...well... Find the most arbitrary combination of
Feet in a tub.The Empire State Building.A volcano.A skeleton--
---I am prepared for anything.
Now I have something:
a glimpse of god maybe--
wicked with design
on that first hungry day:humming
like a child pretending he
isnt paying such close attention
to how the world is shaking down all on its own.
Knowing, though everything has its own idea,
they will arrive at the bottom,
on that definite landing, together.
Later, comes the naming.The decisions--
from ocean sediment to limestone.
Perfectly insufficient utterances.
Yesterday, making dinner for myself,
I could hardly imagine, how anyone could create a recipe
let alone a world?Virgin Olive Oil.Brown Sugar.
How much here?Astonished
by any kind of creation,
I think Why minced garlic and not the coursely chopped?
When do I stir, whisk, beat, grind, fold?
When to fold. Yes, thats it.
When will the Seventh Day finally arrive?
I have wanted to give up writing all summer.
I had packed my faith.I was going out.
I was not coming back.
On her huge canvases, my friend Anne paints
Ovals. Uses homemade stamps.She decorates;
these are her paintings.The paint is what it is.
Dripping down the canvas if it chooses.
But after this.After all of this, the heart
will go around to its many births.Return with something.
Again I find myself in a godly moment,
when I couldnt before remember
how merciful this stuff could be.
How it could leap into a life so unready and unwilling,
and transform it into this sugary divine thing.
How could something, like a poem
about not being able to write a poem,
something so blessed, be born
from such long moments of despair?
I think of the poet Ana Castillo.Her red
Guatamalan woven top.
Her black leather pants and boots.
Her mexican silver and turquoise.
That Virgen de Guadalupe ring--
the mother of all endings,
or is it beginnings?
how like a poet to wear faith on her ring finger.
How like a poet to be the bride of blessedness,
willing to marry uncertainty any day of the week.
A chorus of stars
I bend in prayer.
Head southward.I am leaning into the ground.
face against a green and brown heaven
I think: I have never been this close.
Who decided the sky was Gods home?
cold on my palms--
is God, I whisper.
drifts further away from this.
lit it and sent it off so many years ago?
Every year I remember less
Last year, I even thought: You must winnow
the leaved self
the smallest poetic voice!
look! The dirt under my nails.
A pause. Attempt to smooth an edge.
hums--deep into my hand--
dark wet glittering rage.
I am breathing down into a collapsed core.
of the night, of a winter,
alive than any spring.
Here, kneeling in the dirt,
imagine myself quiet,
that damn hestitancy.
It simply cannot be anymore.
hands have been dirty
God, everything is loud.
Sex and Go(l)d
On weekends, it is the sleek and true I
against my skin so on Friday I buy a small faux-ivory
Virgin Mary and a purple-stoned Rosary.
I figure I can hold them in my hand quietly.
Little talismans.Little interceders
between me and the fear of being left.
These are more portable than Father Rocca and more romantic.
And I can take them to bed with me.
Slugging down the street
inside my right fist, the Rosary stones
into my other palm-- the world,
sky at least, is religious-blue.
I am Adam
of the Sistine Chapel ceiling,
inch away from the finger of God
is around the yet-to-be-created Virgin Mary.
us, dramatically off-center
the ocean is slightly densed.
I am primordial.Heavy as earth but warm.
Though this warmth is sharper than
an orgasm which spreads more casually,
my chilled breasts confuse God with making love
because I think: you were like the Virgin Mother that
tenuously offering me your ghostly body.
Coming undone.Willing to mother a legion of misunderstandings;
to stay pressed on that steep edge of asking.
My body lapped up against confusion.
I could have used the staying power of Mary that night.
I could have placed her on the green trunk at the foot of the
Told her: Stay.And then I would have the strength
In that moment.With you despite the disruption of myself.
But I didnt have her.And didnt have the strength
to trust she was there anyway.I was nothing but breath.
Ice. Traveling eyes.I clutched for grace
and waited, partially, for your fingers to replace me with tulips.
But mostly for your feet to cross the hard wood floor to the
For your white hands to pick up your spring jacket.
When I Roomed with Virginia
our strong strung hearts
flew about in the middle of the room each night.
luminescent flickers between the beds.
They melted with our tales and fables
into a mobile and moved in a circle near the ceiling.
The room scented with Creeds Royal Water and
curry and mint and wind,
we slept in long silver gowns.
She talked in her sleep: I am likely to drown someday.
One year on her birthday, we pulled the
There was a certain light slivering in.A certain light.
We celebrated with ginger incense and rice pudding.
This must be like church for you, I whispered.
No response.Only she hummed and moved to pull down
a pocket-size prayer book from the bookshelf
she never gave everything away.
On our knees we prayed facing each other
words of the blessing, intersessions.
Prayed to each other.Our heartsore
hearts, palm to palm
and the room singing with wood
and water.Outside, on the city blocks,
under the moon, the elements raged
and I thought:
are our bodies with their edges and switches.
or clenched, we were born along the stem,
deep pink blossoms, clean and scented.
haulms. Elbows bent in communion,
held or cast, but quaking.