We don’t fall in love: it rises through us
the way that certain music does –
whether a symphony or ballad –
and it is sepia-colored,
like split tea that inches up
the tiny tube-like gaps inside
a cube of sugar lying in a cup.
Yes, love’s like that: just when we least
needed or expected it
a part of us dips into it
by chance or mishap and it seeps
through our capillaries, it clings
inside the chambers of the heart.
We’re victims, we say: mere vessels,
drinking the vanilla scent
of this one’s skin, the lustre
of another’s eyes so skilfully
darkened with bistre. And whatever
damage might result we’re not
to blame for it: love is an autocrat
and won’t be disobeyed.
Sometime we manage
to convince ourselves of that.
Posts tagged poetry.
Fear of Happiness
Looking back, it’s something I’ve always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I’d slip through,
Though someone always said I’d be all right—
Just don’t look down or See, it’s not so bad
(The nothing rising underfoot). Then later
The high-dive at the pool, the tree-house perch,
Ferris wheels, balconies, cliffs, a penthouse view,
The merest thought of airplanes. You can call
It a fear of heights, a horror of the deep;
But it isn’t the unfathomable fall
That makes me giddy, makes my stomach lurch,
It’s that the ledge itself invents the leap.
What starts things
are the accidents behind the eyes
touched off by, say, the missing cheekbone
of a woman who might have been beautiful
it is thinking about
your transplanted life-line going places
in someone else’s palm, or the suicidal games
your mind plays with the edge
of old wounds, or something
you couldn’t share with your lover
there are no endings
people die between birthdays and go on for years;
what stops things for a moment
are the words you’ve found for the last bit of light
you think there is
Frying Trout While DrunkMother is drinking to forget a man
who could fill the woods with invitations:
come with me he whispered and she went
in his Nash Rambler, its dash
where her knees turned green
in the radium dials of the 50’s.
When I drink it is always 1953,
bacon wilting in the pan on Cook Street
and mother, wrist deep in red water,
laying a trail from the sink
to a glass of gin and back.
She is a beautiful, unlucky woman
in love with a man of lechery so solid
you could build a table on it
and when you did the blues would come to visit.
I remember all of us awkwardly at dinner,
the dark slung across the porch,
and then mother’s dress falling to the floor,
buttons ticking like seeds spit on a plate.
When I drink I am too much like her—
the knife in one hand and the trout
with a belly white as my wrist.
I have loved you all my life
she told him and it was true
in the same way that all her life
she drank, dedicated to the act itself,
she stood at this stove
and with the care of the very drunk
handed him the plate.
how you can never reach it, no matter how hard you try,
walking as fast as you can, but getting nowhere,
arms and legs pumping, sweat drizzling in rivulets;
each year, a little slower, more creaks and aches, less breath.
Ah, but these soft nights, air like a warm bath, the dusky wings
of bats careening crazily overhead, and you’d think the road
goes on forever. Apollinaire wrote, “What isn’t given to love
is so much wasted,” and I wonder what I haven’t given yet.
A thin comma moon rises orange, a skinny slice of melon,
so delicious I could drown in its sweetness. Or eat the whole
thing, down to the rind. Always, this hunger for more.
After the photograph Manatee Drive 02 by Isabella Hayeur, 2011
No one who
has ever seen
a body of water
has not imagined
divides my eye
and my breath
of the canal
the cement throat.
I figure we are
are mostly water.
When I go under
2 Berryman; …
If you dream
you wake up
under an ocean
of air. There are
so many stupid
sayings I confuse
them all. I know
what to never
bring to a gun fight
but what should
I never bring
to a drowning?
Not even bombs
If you don’t give up,
you win. But I’m
pretty sure that’s not
how it works
or as Kafka said:
of life is that it
will end. The water
and buries us.
To prepare yourself
for your near-life
your open eyeball
into a bowl of cold
water. There is
on the horizon.
I will be the one
Algae may one day
rise up against us,
but until then
please allow me
to oxidize in peace.
Usually the last
thing we ever do
-Matt Rasmussen, “Canal”
I wanted to see where beauty comes fromwithout you in the world, hauling my heartacross sixty acres of northeast meadow,my pockets filling with flowers.Then I remembered,it’s you I miss in the brightnessand body of every living name:rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.You are the green wonder of June,root and quasar, the thirst for salt.When I finally understand that people failat love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,the paper wings of the dragonflyaeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?If I get the story right, desire is continuous,equatorial. There is still so muchI want to know: what you believecan never be removed from us,what you dreamed on Walnut Streetin the unanswerable dark of your childhood,learning pleasure on your own.Tell me our story: are we impetuous,are we kind to each other, do we surrenderto what the mind cannot think past?Where is the evidence I will learnto be good at loving?The black dog orbits the horseshoe pondfor treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.There are violet hills,there is the covenant of duskbirds.The moon comes over the mountainlike a big peach, and I want to tell youwhat I couldn’t say the night we rushedNorth, how I love the seriousness of your fingersand the way you go into yourself,calling my half-name like a secret.I stand between taproot and treespire.Here is the compass roseto help me live through this.Here are twelve ways of knowingwhat blooms even in the blindnessof such longing. Yellow oxeye,viper’s bugloss with its set of pink armspleading do not forget me.We hunger for eloquence.We measure the isopleths.I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.Fireflies turn on their electric wills:an effulgence. Let me come backwhole, let me remember how to touch youbefore it is too late.
The Way She Figured He Figured It
You get over these constant storms and learn to be married all over again, every day.
The foyer is hers because the kettle is hers as it was made for water and the water is hers
because the sac that grew the baby was hers though the semen that made the sac was his
like his boots are his and the tea that’s of the kettle
after it enters his mouth is his unless it’s hers since it’s inside the kitchen that’s hers
and therefore not his unless he’s simmering the Asian sauces that are his
because they’re dense and knotty rather than milkish and paltry
like everything else from the nation state of the motherland
of the no-mercy child who won’t stop sucking and wanting and whining in the ear that is his
although the child herself belongs somehow to the woman and thus its hunger is hers
as is the bed and dresser and mirror and latch
though the hammer naturally is his and the saw and lumber
and back and muscle he suffered to build because he guessed he thought it would be
good for something besides this house like a pestilence of people who weren’t his
because nothing was his except the whirl he carried in his belly of the mix-up
of loving her in the first place
like being sucked into a burrow of lava embers and putting your tongue to it until it caught fire
and all he could say was that the burn was his—this hole in the mouth—
this fiasco of the woman bent now in the garden to smell the cilantro
as though she didn’t know his head was split
with hating her and loving her and hating her and loving her
because she was an ache and a kink and somehow the furrow—the groove and the rut—
and age and death and kiss and fuck and not-fuck and song and not-song
and no it was not sweet though he’d go on and carry it
since also—since mostly—it was.
I found a geophysicist
I find that I say
your name differently
and keep it safe in my mouth—
lips parted—just so—
to allow our sighs escape.
I learn new words: regolith or
batholith, syncline or anticline—
Which one are you? I wonder.
Downward or convex?
(Rego means blanket in Greek,
means cloaked in stone).
Questions sound different
when I ask you—
a softer lilt
end of line.
Or when you counter:
haiku or sonnet—which one are you?
(A haiku is a moment
snatched from time, says Basho).
Questions are weightier
somehow, yet afloat, drifting
almost like answers or mantle.
How far into the earth
are you willing to go?
(I want to be cloaked
in stone with you.
I want to snatch moments
from time for you).
Questions are plates waiting to collide,
waiting to make Himalayas.
The body in its hyperthemesia
I want of you as shapeless.
Speak of you, rather.
Mete you out
Touching-along life in
its track of stays.
Body abstract yet ambit —
The contains of you
The absorbs of you
The vivid of you
The pernicious of you
The tilts of you
The tends of you
The with’s of you
The “is-what-it-is” of you.
mix of its own order alert. Me
drawing you the body off
in this direction.
Or that, forward, back da capo
A term for forgetting is:
go from where you should
go, and stay here.”
Stretch those arms up as if about to.
(Reminiscent awful god muscular
And the need that turns)
There’s two of us.
How I missed you.
All those born from love-lest marriages,
this is our season. I don’t mean rain
or shorter days, but instead the smell
of burning. When what has made us comes
to its sure end, there must be certain
consolations. We are each other’s.
After all, we want the same things: trash
trucks that come before dawn, our mother
to wake from her life of fatigue, one
ventral to hold our ventral against.
Who can resist a wasp’s nest chest, walls
of paper and their familiar hum?
Some part of you believes we’ll do it
better, that our bodies won’t become
unlucky skeletons, tired in bone-
fragrant afternoons. This, too, is my
secret hope. And hope is the saddest
secret of all: Please, be wild for me.
I thought the earth remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.