cloud forest

my baby taught me what’s good about being alone:
the magnetic pull of grace—

wisteria, cafe molido, sky laced with western gulls
every morning with the windows gaping
spores of spring sneaking up flesh sleeves
brushed tin percolator brim boiling to the
temperature, despite the altitude, of my own
heightened senses right now
swinging clocks and quiet trees at work
we learned how to break time when we challenged the sound barrier
but i just want to enjoy right now this moment
to salivate a memory

right now, how do i get back to that place
must i faint at the fringes
(is there no other way?)
must i always need like rock’n’roll
cups of steam, herb-stained teeth
slithering into a black dress in the essential mountain fog
mistaken for someone else only for the night
candle burning between me and a serious man
downed our drinks and steeped our bodies in the harbor
thick tannin made for muddy water
we couldn’t sludge out of—

(that was years ago.)

right now, i toe-grip the sand near world’s end
alone
but not lonely,
thinking how you’d enjoy the view.

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juniper

the greatest writers drink alone,
i thought it earnestly
many times.

and plants need the sun
to keep growing tall,
not one talking to another,
and once in a while
the rain falls
and nourishment, too.

all living things
take what they can when offered
and whatever they do
— pray, curse, deceive
recoil
chant for pocket change
sift for crumbs
— then wilt,
they mimic death
for a billion closed-eye breaths
then it’s done.

great writers like the occasional friday night
and the silenced mind that accompanies it.

and he’s the man on the motorcycle,
or the couple in the car,
he’s the young girls
skirted and frantic running down suburban streets,
and he’s the stranger you meet
at the party or the bar.

the great writer
is he who lives for the dark,
the next words flowing out
of the lover’s mouth
the next kiss
the last drink
the bed you hope to find
when it’s done.

and like people,
he spits and shits
sometimes he wipes his face
of dirt
and asks jesus for a clean slate
come tomorrow
a starched confession,
a reparation
for non-sins.

and like people,
he sleeps in it
the filthiness of living
but instead of heading westward
or taking a bath
or sweeping it under the rug,
he presses his hands in it
then plants a seed with it
and he waters it with sweat
and before taking the seat on the porch chair
he charms it into growing green
a soft comfort as grass between the toes.

we can be alone

in an alternate universe

i write with pencil
so i can retrace and undo
my tracks like a math equation,
and you’ll paint a portrait
with your toes
of the boy you used to be.

you admit the poet in you,
and i fess up to the fighter in me,
and we’ll duel on equal ground
— you’ll break me down
gentle like i need to be,
and i’ll show you what a woman really knows
(and all that she doesn’t).

you’ll accept that Esquire
is my favorite magazine
not for the men or style
but for the breasts,
and there will be dinner
on the red checkered tablecloth
when you walk through the door
— and lots of steak (medium-rare)
with potatoes as my addition.

i’ll call you by your Russian
birthname because i like to hiss
and deceive when i speak,
you’ll teach me a waltz, a polka,
or a swing
— and we can answer each other’s fan mail
and invent the other’s past,
tell fallacies
about the weight of love,
how it’s always true
but never lasts.

in an alternate universe
everyone can be lonely
but us,

we can be alone:

wild as wolves
running from the nighttime cops,
faithful as once-abused dogs
with a pant that sounds the alarms
of the world.

this page cannot be displayed

and i’m waiting

for the host to rip the stub off,
painlessly, i hope, before i board.
i once slinked through the waves and wires
unnoticed, yet, somehow,
a man found me, wandering,
and told me to pack a bag
and come or go —

i don’t telephone on the hour
as the bell that tolls
or wonder who he’s slept with
or grip at his clothes,
there’s no worries.
i’m not keeping track of the lapse
or waxing of time, in between his letters
or since the day i first felt love:

i simply wait.

when it arrived
the train crashed in as an impatient dream
a roaring engine
with feverish momentum.
it saw the wall ahead,
made of brick
and calcified breaks in bones,
and it kept cruising
like no thing could stop it.

it thieved
the first breath of sounds from my throat
the floor from my feet
and every word i ever wrote,
so i had to jump from the platform
into what, i still don’t know.

the brochures promised me
the icy blue of a pool in spring
the rolling hills in a pastoral scene
the brimstone burning in a faraway castle
— now all i see is visions of places
i’ve seen nowhere but in my sleep.

the conductor can’t say where i’m headed
or if my man will be there
all shining armour at the end,
for the trajectory may change,
due to weather, the direction of the wind,
if we’re feeling grand or less than —

i told him, that it don’t matter
where we plan to go.
i’ve just been stalling,
for what, i still don’t know,
but i won’t miss the train —
there’s nothing left in this town
but signals and ghosts.
and besides, i’ve gotten sick
of walking around alone
with no destination,
waiting.