april tanka

   round red pomo-naut
   you are the apple growing my belly
       and the cyanide tumoring my brain
            wet slice of cantaloupe
                ripe black opium
                    static stalking radio pollen
                        cadet blue overalls
                            creamy sweaters sway
                                plum sap showers ooze (on the lettered keys)
you make my sensor tendrils sticky—

I wish I could convince your scent
                                your taste your feel
                                    to stay
                                        to come closer
                                            to turn into touch
pale winter hands reaching for
                                        shy rosebuds
                                                                shattering pale pink globes
                                                    of ice

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the nautical mile

to the man named after a river:
I am the woman raised by an ocean
waves that lure you in with erratic crests and troughs
measured by the moon’s metronome
and toss you out once you trust your own buoyancy
you bleed in the salt
you are both the infliction and the injury
you want to leave; in swimming here,
you make the difficult choice, to explore
the unexplored, to disprove the nautical mile

beware, he who is named after a river:
my sea swallows your kind whole
bodies who lost their mother at birth
vaporized in the middle of death valley
where the distance kills you
if the mirages don’t drive you insane first;
eventually, you’ll dissolve into me
I’ll meet you at the basin, wide-mouthed
with wanting
the chase that never ends, the sun as it stalks
each horizon, to pounce illumination

you’ll wonder why you chose to run south
upon learning of modern misconception that rivers
tend not to flow north
maybe then, you never would have met with an ocean
then, you could drink the world end to end
unknowing of your smallness

back to earth

if you die on my terms

I will not avenge you
I will not wear my black in mourning
I will try to resist the calls of the robins or crackles,
whichever bird is in season when you go

widows return to nature
to dig up answers to questions that change daily
they become more convuluted, more unanswerable
more like wind and ocean and skin
yet less like anything you’ve ever known

I saw a woman faceless in a shawl make shapes with her mouth
first at the trees, then at the water, then at the stone walls

she didn’t know that there, erect and sentient, was a plaque
stating that this place was manmade:
she would find no signs here —
no heads-up quarters, no sprigs in winter slush
— but that very one

it seems she didn’t look hard enough
or she didn’t trust her intuition
to close her eyes and let sight expire;

there are ways to find without searching
there are chances to die without looking for trouble

one day if you decide to walk instead
if you take a stroll on the other side
notice bars and laundromats, trails and the homeless
that you’d never gave glance before

and this sun is the first since the last solstice
and your ashen hair calls for a brighter route

before you even feel the body resign,

you’re staring at your mother, neck cranked up a shaft
you’re laden in silver, smothered in baby’s breath
your muscles a chilled puddle

you are truly all right
as you’ve never been before
with no voice to redeem any regrets, mistakes, lost callings
locked tight in the trunks of memory

your sister begins talking to the birds
they only speak to one another, as they always have,
but she collects their chirps as tokens
— and I’m sure I’d do the same —
their mocking more human
than the wild rippling of the crick
more lively than sticks dusted in dirt

bored

I vow never to be bored again
to use that word
to even think it in my head

bored is bad, a killer queen
ruling us all
bored is so many things
most of us don’t recognize

the night tobacco drives
to fake a high,
or a real vice that numbs
when voices sound like sheepskin
tightened over the eardrum

it’s counting, removing rings
from the hands one by one,
hoping the fingers can breathe now
hoping the verses can happen now,
waiting for an atomic bomb of genius
to strike

do I really need this cup of tea?
another coffee?
another banana, apple, stick of gum,
conversation, slice of cake,
do I have a need for this distraction?

or can I keep on living without

and what do I get from watching the birds?
but know that they’re never bored,
assembling nests, feeding young,
doing what nature has told

do those with purpose just do
because they know no other way?

or do they spend a few eons thinking on it,
not bored because they’ve yet to empty
their brains,
do the strains and associations go on and on
until one day
all converges,
vapor sucked into the sky in one gasp
by one brilliant cloud
to later glitter down and
show all that it has gathered
over the years:

the people open their mouths,
the buckets collect in rusty houses,
the worms wriggle out of their holes
and the early birds get first pickings,
of course

and I watch it all,
the beautiful effortless clockwork,
very unbored,
a well of thought,
yet not doing a thing

rain, the great tranquilizer

spreading my skin’s surface to the ceiling:

a parachute outstretched,
an umbrella unwound,
the wingspan of a crane

while the first autumn rain blesses

all that’s grounded,
all that’s good,
all that’s rooted and sure

the pouring is long,
the barometric pressure is low,
the season will be relentless,
the clouds in constant upset

but inside, sewn into sheets, it is calm

i want to sift like silk into this silence

not the tight lips of a mouth,
or the frequency of the blinded tv

but the sound the world makes when it’s doing
what it does

i want that in a bottle, and i want to drink it
down

and if it shall be poison,
i only ask that someone comforts me

be the nurse by my side,
hold my wrist,
give me your eyes,
and say nothing

be mute,
be still with me

just as the pavement accepts its beating
just as the droplets resist the sky,
in descension of the peace
buried in the mud

midday in the backyard

(when I can’t see my own shadow)

perhaps,
you’re just a crazy old hawk.

in fear, I see it in your slivered eyes
and the jealous ruffling of your coat
and your want to get fed quick

when I’ve got a predator swooping
through my property,
and he grabs an unsuspecting hare
by the fat of her neck.

they don’t speak the same language.

but if they could
and if she could get a word in,
miss rabbit,
she’d say something like,

“hey you, mister hungry,
I’ve looks to entice,
being available and vulnerable
and hopping all high and nice
but, trust me, the others,
their blood is just as warm
and taste wild and gamey,
and you can have ten more
if only you save me,
release the clench of your jaw,
I am only one small meal
in one little yard,
I don’t mind the plummet
the ground’s where I belong
and the rest of the land’s
a killing ground for you,
like a handsome man at the bar.”

but bunny never got the chance
to speak her peace, it seems.

her captor flew out my yard
and white fluff sprinkled out of the sky,
downy snow in the heat of spring.

she made a nice dinner
once she shut up.

a town with no sunlight

I sat in the library parking lot in fear
that I had arrived in the eye of a storm,
and just outside my windows,
the thing had sedated or subdued nature
to do a dance unlike its own
and I knew there would be trouble

the trees tried to lift their trunks
shift the tides and pull in a full moon
unfurl their stringy legs up and out from the ground
wrapped around the dirt, like veins
strangling a swollen heart

they had strong roots containing them
(or could it have been gravity?)
but any way, the tornado didn’t
want them, or he wasn’t hungry enough, or
there were forces at war

the trees stayed put in their sacks
or trenches, desperately

every leaf on them
a piece of me,
a piece of you even more
a piece of the earth and of every breathing thing

and all I wanted
was to stand here, grounded,
to find shelter in a wine cellar
or cry, cry, and plea for mercy from a god
I’d never known to name before
because death had never flashed past my eyelids

but the trees saw the sky in altitudes
greater than I,
they were the first to feel the raindrops
and yet the last to absorb the nutrients,
yet here I was terrified of looking up

they saw that sky
and they worshipped it, and
because they could not speak or kneel to pray
they carved into themselves
“higher
higher
higher!”
in full belief in the black one day opening
to a sheath of lively blue foreverness