This is the part where
the basilica empties itself
of Latin pilgrims.
The part where
we stand small
below the towers.

The beggars ask us for money and
you stop to immortalize
the brown woman and
the way she moves.

(It is Alabama in the 60s.
Victory comes winged
and dancing
at last.)

This is the part where
all books deserve to keep
their secret histories.
The part where
you hitchhike to Penn State
for a hard-learned lesson
in love.
The part where you stand,
years later, on an empty bridge,
eyeing the small house
as it clings
like a cat to the rocks.

(The white-haired man
sits with a cat in his lap
and tells us how it is to sleep
in the desert.)

And now we know the things
we didn’t.

It is strange to find
the gentle house empty
of you. To find the sun
gone orange on the buildings
and you without
your camera.
The dogwoods gone to leaf
and you not here
to guide the petals
to the greening ground.

It is sunset.
This is the part where
we are driving past
the overlook and
you tell me softly
to keep going.

The part where
the mountain enfolds us,
safely,
into dark.

The eyes of the sun are yellow.
The beak of the season,
sharp with cherry.
I am lavender today.
I am a river slinking through
on my cold belly like a snake
in the frost-stricken spring.
I stand on a street
I have crossed a hundred times.
A ghost of generations
gone dark
in every window.
Brick-laid elders eaten
by cancer. Soft bodies,
peach-tree grandmothers.
Tangled rusting iron
of my father.
And I am heavy as
pennies laid
on the eyes
of the dead.
Heavy as
the stolen wail
of a bone shepherd
in winter.
A dogwood blood offering
in the rise
of the year.
Mouth empty
of names.

1.

They are coming to terms
with the fact that they are
two women
in love.

2.

Their first kiss is a sailboat,
hopeful and bobbing in
an imposing expanse.

3.

She thinks they won’t make it
past the years of
empty parking lots and
secret love.

But they do.

Time becomes
something to be slipped over
a shoulder,
carried gently as a daughter.

A softness she thought
was impossible.

4.

They learn how to breathe
with everyone watching.
Learn how to move
in one body,
made of wind.

5.

Touch becomes a forest
to hide and be found in
at once.

6.

Here,
the unending serpent.
The path that circles
back to itself.

7.

The day makes
its own brightness.

You are the first to tell me
I am not womb-less.
Not less a woman.
I carry my unborn.
Each with a name that is
impossibly fragile.
You are the first
to touch the three cuts
in my belly.
To love me with
hardened eyes.
To tell me of
the storms
I have lived through.
The storms
I have lived through.
To tell me I am made of
everything it takes
to survive.

Do not lose sight of the small body.
In turn, do not see only death.
You will search the bones again and again
in your dreams. It is the way of things.
You are learning to be a diviner,
to love past your own skin.
Past possession.
Past impermanence.
Listen. You will hear him at your feet.
Open the eyes of your body
and he raises his head to greet you.
And though you are lost
in the urgent hunger of grief,
do not forget he wandered also,
blind and starving.
Just as you found him
when he most needed you,
so are you also found
in your tempest of need.
Go gently into the garden,
eyes bright as pennies.
Look for him in everything.
Walk barefoot upon the grass
and give your heavy song to the earth,
that she may adorn it with roses
and lay it low to hum all seasons to sleep,
each in their own time.
Go gently.
Be patient.
Give thanks.

virulent-tuber:

Someone spies a pair of magical sideburns reading from the acolyte’s codex errr brochure.

Fine day for an apocalypse

I remember saying something like,
“This is no place for an apocalypse!”,
and then chortling gleefully
as the sirens begin to wail.
I grab your breasts.
Panic ensues.
You mention the tiny bears
roaming quietly in my chest,
symbolizing intuition,
so I let them out.
They scatter to sniff the air.
Suddenly a steel beam runs
the length of my neck
in a useless evolutionary gesture
which allows me to stare straight ahead.
Life tries to keep going,
failing miserably in decrepit elevators,
raised to keep out
the threatening dead.
Pretensions are hoarded like canned goods.
Credos not even worth mentioning
are stripped from mattresses, set alight.
In a fantastic twist of irony,
I change my password to
“yay I survived!”
We visit a balding man with dreadlocks
in the hospital,
exchange pleasantries over
his newly shaved arms.
The view outside resembles a Bosch painting.
I continuously mutter, “This is not good.”
The word “predominant” is used out of context.
I put my face through the window in protest.
The shit keeps hitting the fan.
A man with a duck’s ass hairdo
approaches me with a syringe
and asks if he can sample my wares.
The tiny bears return with an olive branch,
as if to save us.
You say, “Burn the fucker”,
and we are swallowed.
No wait,
we are a majestic flock of migrating trees.
No wait,
the sun eats itself,
the final symbolic act
of an existential crisis.

——-

art by a-parrot.deviantart.com

I hear what you’re saying. And I want to be
the steam rising from the kettle.
And the trees, come down from the winter hills
to tell you of the forest’s heart.
And even the wind, blind and vain as it is.
But I’m only me, cat scratched and bee stung.
I can only stand at the window
and pretend to look hungry.
The truth is that I can’t see
through the mystery well enough
to tell you what it is I know.
The truth is that I’m tired of being
pressed upon by the sky
this way, caught like a fish
in this fevered net.
This chaos of stars
that burns my lips.
I do not understand the fury.
The need for light saddled with
the wild ache for dark
and what it hides.
All life has ceased to prove
that it isn’t just
a collection of places
where things happen.
The fields where starlings gather
for the night.
The box in which my father’s body cooled
before he was burned.
The room in which I was cut, dying,
from my mother’s belly.
Transient scenes that hint
at something
we do not understand.
The distance between
what lives
and what dies.
The space between
two human hands.

It sits waiting like a baited avenue.
All black tar smoothed over by the moon’s bright tongue.
Heavy trees shining purple at its sides.

I want to be angry.
I want to believe this will be easy.
I want to stand so still the breath goes dormant in me,
useless lungs slow and slick as winter fish.

The road is disquieting,
hewn pavement of a monolith’s skin.

It does not speak.
It does not promise to lead me
to water.

But I am three parts wind,
one part earth.
All the night and half the day.
I could stand here forever
and try to show you with my hands
what I mean,
but hands mean splinters.
Hands mean battle and blood.
Hands mean things that will break my heart.
And yours, too, before this ends.

You are alive out there. I can hear you.
And a day will come when this will have grown
so narrow that we can only pass,
one by one, slow and hard into the tepid dark.

I only ask that you wait.
At the base of my throat as it thickens.
In the heat of my pulse as it quickens.
All that is left to be given, gone.
All that remains, meat and tired bone.

Singing rescue,
singing dawn.

Singing home,
home,
home.

It’s nearly April.
I drag my father’s bones from the river.
Pour a glass of his favorite whiskey.
He sits greening with the grass in the back yard.
I bind his sternum with old rags.
He is heavier than I remember.
The wind is warm.
I pour the whiskey on the ground in offering.
We begin.
He prays to God and the earth and my hands.
He uses my name gently, as if it were only a husk.
We bend low to our work, though he never moves.
I till the garden, pick over the rows with a potato rake.
I dig the small holes and line up the plants.
Mr. Stripey. Beefsteak. Heirloom.
I lower them in and cover the roots.
We watch for a long time.
The day softly dies.
Lengthens enough to fill with dark.
We end.
The river is calling.
Heavy as fruit on the vine.
I stand.
Gather the rags.
Climb the stairs.
Close the door.
The wind is warm.
Water and sun.
Everything hurts.