Unio Mystica

Light flutters across the wall
to be touched but not possessed
it is death somehow
that sharpens the focus on life

I can count now the times
I’ve looked at your face
fearing you would not return

The thought of being here
without you shakes me

The mind is led ever backwards
mouth opening softly
to catch the leftover memories
and the narrow reflections
of a fragmented breath

It never quite reached my lips
the way I meant to say I love you

With a kiss between
your gnarled work-worn fingers

the first poem was about you
and every poem since has been
an attempt to turn your face to me

Let me wake then to you
reaching to catch my tiny hand in yours.

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Perfidy

A long night I spent,
thinking on stomach-heavy goodbyes
and the limited allotment of reunions
in the count down of days.

The fault lines in my forehead
mimic the giant rift valleys,
as in the extension of gravity
I am becoming the landscape:

Tissue corrupted,
fingernails chipped.
I have been to strange places
in the process of returning:
Breath to breath to air.

I have witnessed the contours
of your back receding
into the blur of my failed vision,
your name tongue-heavy behind my teeth.

Biding time, before the earth shifts,
another heaving beneath the surface
as the Sisyphean boulders tumble
that I might rise to the heart-heavy task.

Rubble settles, the veil of dust lifts,
and for a moment it appears
not everything must have meaning,
sometimes the dream is just a dream.

Black Witch Moth

Ascalapha odorata

When unexpected solitude finds you,
the shape of loneliness is an empty hearth–
warmed by the soot of yesterday,
and the heat of handwriting as it crumbles–
cherry red, smoke, incomplete combustion,
and carbon black.
The paper writhes, finally brought to a life
that your words had tried and failed to invoke,

and flutters like a moth to settle into your palm–
intent on a life outside the margins of the page.

On Childhood

It is the law of fire
tendrils uncoiling like ancient scrolls
flicking towards the breast
and the beast within the beat

dancing
because we will never know
the true name of a single thing
singed as we are

by the burning bush that head to toe
never touches the ground of us
seventy-seven times your maker
your betrayer

it is the law of thermodynamics
that crackles out the constant
permutations of your name
whispered face down into a pillow

who will love you
if not your mother sunlit
in her gnarled beauty
having stolen

circle and line
a thousand of your words
toe down in the embers
to keep all blazing hearts safe

from your humming father digging graves
for not all the bones burn but all are
enveloped by ashes and dirty secrets
of immortality

and his soft hands recreate the blaze
all the while denying the wildfire
having failed to follow the simple law
of never turning your back on a forest

somewhere beneath those burning limbs
I once scrawled my name into the bark
and watched the sap trickle down
the sharp edge of my blade

knowing trees do not have eyes
like the back of their heads.

The Etymology of Us

In this room the skylight lets in the moon
and you have sat beside me gentle
whilst the wind frets the windows and
the musician dims the light and hides
shy from the sound of her own beauty

you have pulled back the curtain
kissed the forehead behind the bangs
dared a little fervorous light to shine
until she siren sang her soul for you
and we timed breath to our tapping toes

quietly down the stairs to a room of rocks
fingers brushing on the century old pressure
and fire formed constellations of the sidewalk
or the mountains standing sentry to this city

though we must soon learn the name of
the thing 
that dances beneath our transient skin
always there is a first and a last breath
we hold back the exhale lest the melody should cease
on nights when she opens her mouth to sing

clearing eons of stardust from her throat
with the harmony of the spheres
the rhythm
and the hum
that finally gives voice to pulse

what it is to be loved
to love.

Carte

She asked me to help her cry;
I too felt that unsated longing,
heavy under a lapful of tangled yarn
artfully woven into a nest or noose
with hands that now fall unable
to unravel the knot in her throat.

These scars are indelible;
under the knife she shuts her eyes,
heart pounding like rain on a tin roof
blood flowing towards a sea that laps
the horizon just enough to
touch the stars.

We hold our own hands;
all that was certain escapes in exhalation,
swells the sails towards the uncharted
like a silver fog of cold morning breath
through which we cannot see the rocks
for lack of lighthouse.

I am a ghost walking through my life;
rummaging through charted bygone years,
routes washed out and sun-faded like
bleached out bones on the sand,
and that last leg of the journey
when traced out was a heart.

The rope is too tangled to serve;
time, is there time, to trace and unravel
with the fingers or the blade?

Even the fragile old heart holds a compass,
a starburst of meaning-seeking that shudders
with the heave and swell of passage.

On Massacres

The weight of a book on a chest.
The unbound flutter in its cage. Listen.
Soothing diction despite modulations:
Painful words,  deafening thunder,
the way wordless utterances smack lip to lip.
Spit. Drying spit. Spit out already
the history of papercut to index finger–
Certainly some type of punctuation in skin thin
defenses. You will say that none of this
is in agreement. None of this
makes sense triggering through the print
tripping on the image that breaks the black and white
and in full color shows there are other eyes with pain
behind the gun before the body. Wind turns the page.
Somebody crawls between the pews and bleeds
at least twenty-six chapters of history–
but it is the domestic kind, and not the imported
and it is understood, as just another
daily headline to be forgotten–
those letters blazed ‘cross foreheads
T is for terrorism, T is for Thompson
Submachine, machinations
American made like the weight of all these papers
bound by the signature of a dead pen
and the weight of a bullet.

On Stigmata

I miss my ghosts, he says when discussing the downside
of feeling better.  Pill to lip, tongue to pill, a rush of water
and sip—

you might miss it too, the slip and the incision of the
lapidary tongue that engraved her legacy on your flesh
to protect you, she seethes –

a ghost is like that, cold and transient, and becomes
familiar. I want to be happy, without the side effects, but
there is always something on the periphery—

so many faces, it is impossible to distinguish angles,
or locate the source of light that refracts and projects
sylphs with their tongues wagging of hope—

now he rolls back his words, hems up his tongue,
and wears a ring even. He has left the haunted,
the pill-less men with barren fingers—

to the dripping faucet catching light,
life is pain and beauty even with the pills,
and In truth, I miss my spirits too
on diamond hard nights like these
that drip with the silence
of the tongue-less.

***

The Pope, after all, falls asleep while praying,
condones it even, so I shut my eyes and
will on sleep lest I should have to pray.

It took me long enough to realize I couldn’t
heal the world, longer still to grieve the giving
up, and less than a second to decide

I had enough of being the Messiah.

Absolute

The brush is poised mid-air,

trembling slightly from breath or fear
—these days it is hard to know the difference
but the illusion of omnipotence is compelling—
that the hand could gesticulate beauty in to being
dancing out the perfect contours of revelation
you too can manifest your destiny is the next
American [pipe] Dream gold label record

The page turns and she tells you,
I took his last sonorous exhalation in my mouth
and the brush lays down a border of gold
above the subterranean sludge of a history
that keeps seeping into the binding–
you had been a part of that, standing guard
with your desire painted on your brassard

you could return to the unwritten and
the unimagined place where the river, it is always a river,
does not flow mercury and blood beneath a bloated moon
the glass poises above the soundless lips
to sip is to find oblivion as another night folds
round with ominous tones of beauty and betrayal
if the art is black, it is only reflective

of the hands of these days that fashion magic
from woven cords of cold uncaring metal
and become a rash of thought—mind to machine
hands disembodied and yet still feeling
like striking the warm chords of summer
into a heart—and so the libation in hand, the flashing
screen—someone else falls in love in paradise

and the bitters are a digestive aid
and so you can swallow much now, and more–
standing back to back to measure your growth
against her half-full glasses and lilting adages
you’ve been at it long enough—staring at the blank
un-stretched, rumpled canvas—watching the seasons
Stretch your skin against your bone

brain pock-marked by the pot-holes
of where the brush swept back and forth against
too soft a target. The brush tentatively touches
down, as if fingering a bruise, and she tells you
everything is light, let your light shine
these stories are dangerous things
femme fatale

beneath the shallow smile
there is the light of fire and brimstone
falling from the heavens
absit omen.

Rose Tea, Essence & Me

Between the flower and the stem, nothing
really. There are many ways to steep a rose,
to pull a petal’s vernal essence  until it is
drawn through teeth from the steaming mug,
or recklessly dabbed against a pulsing neck.

The wild ones smell better, climbing
between the ruins with abandon. It is foolish
to not wonder if perfection ruins truth;
the tooth has been bred out of one too many
rose. Tangles have been tamed. All she wants,

Is to hide between those thorns, and
be the river at their roots, crying clarity–
ugliness to beauty– beauty to imperfection ,
while the hairs of rosehips tickle her throat
and her snag tooth smile widens into snarl.

He always admired his own crooked teeth,
and the jagged marks they made biting in
to her rosy flesh; the sachet swings
between her breasts, the odor lingers—love
only took ten thousand roses or more

Crushed, shredded, and bruised beneath
his oily thumbs.