Take off your words,
leave just your intent.
Strip them away in one peal.
New scent of shame,
Scarring in the moonlight
flesh hardens to skin.
Put back your words.
A esas horas
sé como debe sentir el gato.
Sin poder dormir,
ni despertarse de verdad.
Afilando sus uñas sobre la puerta de madera
de mi cuarto de ático.
Tirándose desde un lado del pasillo
estrellándose contra las paredes,
haciendo ruidos de un animal embrujado.
Así debe sentir el gato
porque oigo todo a esas horas.
How can I faithfully describe myself,
When that which is knowledge, dream, and desire
Is dull reflection of books on a shelf,
Of taste of the sea, of touch of a fire.
It was the smell that gave belief its start
Of Baba’s bread her bones no longer pound;
Convictions once thought to spring from my heart,
Are but trespassers on more sacred ground.
What was my thought before my eyes could see,
Or ears could hear the silence in his voice.
What first had I that senses did not paint on me
With brush strokes thick and likened to their choice.
Thus, save through my eyes, touch, tongue, nose, and ear,
The all that I am can my words lay bare.
Two men alike in hue, different in age
Debate in town squares that holy man’s Word
His own hand never wrote on any page
But by His mystery all men are lured.
The one sees His truth in the guilt of man.
The other finds meaning in His slight frame,
That truth is in the body’s cant and can;
The first to his feet, “but have you no shame!”
That his name was Jesus, man of one wit,
His work was wood, not pen, nor cement;
All else to imagine as one sees fit,
Perhaps precisely His only intent:
Man leaves behind his name, occupation,
And all the rights to interpretation.
Like a warn night star whose presence in time
Has robbed it of its once infinite might,
Or a child nature keeps waiting in prime
That once born radiates infinite light;
So too did sly Word make a flesh-bound pact
With fair Nature, ever humble in guise.
Word presented its needs, that which it lacked,
Then Nature countered with a compromise:
“Bleed from pen and you can have posterity,
Then little have you of that first energy;
But take raw moment, I eternity
When waves through my air sing your eulogy.”
Word written and spoken agreed to this oath:
Worship time or energy, but not both.
The orange of Manhattan sky, what pride!
In traffic from afar appear square teeth,
Of skyscrapers. Then darkness. I’m shoed inside
A tunnel-gate, an entrance from beneath.
Cars pass through me but somehow don’t collide
Their physics folded in black magic sheath
Chaotic flow that binds by synchrony,
Its seizure gives new form to energy.
Emergent honks and men with anger shout.
I walk the streets with marked intimidation,
There is some element, some trick no doubt
That from behind their grunts of irritation
A secret sameness; they’ve figure something out!
Eyes speak through sparks, ignite imagination:
“Our mission: reconciliation
Of good with evil, a new creation.”
“What do you mean by this?” I begged the spark
He then, “To mend the broken bond, we strive
For good and evil to unite. We mark
Their union with our blood; look how we thrive!
We are the perfect balance, light and dark.
Die those who take one side but we survive.
Not one or the other in isolation,
Our power lies in their combination”.
“Through our success we yearn to make Them proud
So they forget that ancient confrontation
We build them bridges joining ground to cloud.
We exercise greed but in good fashion.
Our tricks are vile but through them we have vowed
To protect our people from starvation.
Old friends in feud forgive each other must
You see, through us They earn each others’ trust.”
I thanked the spark, “I must be on my way.”
But he, confused: did his words not suffice?
He then to me, “Why is it you don’t stay,
If this here creed is earthly paradise?”
I sensed that in some other place Truth lay
My own eyes swelled, no sparks, their words concise:
“I bet fair Nature serves not Them nor you.
To Her alone, I shall be ever true.”
For a place to put my body
I searched the ether of this town
Some place still where leaves in gutters
Are left to ponder why they’re brown.
Books in bags impatiently wait
For a place to put my body
Where warm corners melt with cups
And lazy pens make windows foggy.
Unhinged thoughts they don’t exist
Yet still my heart persists to bellow
For a place to put my body
Somewhere judgment is denied to follow.
The haze with haste gives way to grass
As if to tell me it were sorry
For having made so hard my search
For a place to put my body.
Judgment! Today I will not let you claim me
How many lives have you thus robbed of fair price
Disguising as pride, unease, or jealousy?
Leave me and be left to your own device
Stumbling in darkness of thoughts, will-less and bound
You’ll trip on old age, the hands will not suffice
To break your fall. Paralyzed, cheek against ground
You’ll land on hearts your souls have compressed. There dwell
Still alive, you will beg in vain to be found
While every breath infuses with hearts’ smell
Their red stories form lakes, glisten in the sun
Wash over your now insignificant shell.
Your hold on us drowns with you, your knots undone,
At last you will see: you were the useless one.
He woke up feeling different
Having been moved not only by time
But rather by some mind
Dreaming his body in her world
Knowing she was stealing back
From the thief himself
Leaving him with no clues
Other than the irksome itch
My reason thinks the outside
Needs more space to breathe
Every pixel is filled with something:
With color, with permanence
Whose greed to exist now, is merciless.
It is an inquisition that forgot to inquire
Why something is better than nothing
Slaughtering the likes of words
that don’t want to leave the warmth
And I’m filling in the squares too,
Unwillingly. My presence is too much,
But I have no choice
but to fill my lungs with these things.
Foam on the side of a coffee cup
Uneven, stale, brown
My shaking hand has made it so
Which makes this cup of coffee mine.
Light falls onto its wall
A screen for projected light
From two green slits surrounding the deep dark hole
Not receiving but emitting light.
And my skin shivers from a chill
But there is no breeze outside
The push is coming from within.
To the widening of eyes letting out light
To that something trying to push itself out.
All in cadence as if to say:
Pay attention! This is important!
What happened to you last night,
It was important:
The man was seventy and reading Russian prose
When blood started dripping from his nose
Onto those words, onto a page
Red drops from his own beating cage
“Mama!” he read
But the cry was his own
And through those dark slits
The whole universe shone
He came out of his trance,
“Oh, I fucked it all up!”
His trembling hand
Still holding the wine cup
Then my soul pleaded with me
“Please no more!”
A scene I have witnessed
The truck tires screech and he stops somewhere. The release of some air somewhere. The honing sounds. The truck starts again and someone laughs. The “the-ness” of it. Pop, something comes but the silence quickly silences it. Just cars. Always cars crossing lanes. Cars driving in the rain. Listen to your eyes. They’re making a pattern across your closed lids like ticking clocks. They already know what they’ll see next. Ineffable. Breath is a servant who comes to fill my lungs at night. The brain is not producing words, it’s speaking in secret so I wont hear it. It has a secret it wont tell me, but I already know it. Its not the solution, it says. Erase that, I don’t care about solutions. I care about something that never had a name.