Relative

Much of who I am 

is tethered 

to 

meaning

the feeling of meaning

the idea 

of 

the feeling of meaning

and that 

to 

the idea of what I assume

to be real.

This is how I form

the compartment

where I fabricate 

my identity

and explicit truths.

They can be a candle lit room

the tide

a magician's hat

the steam from a tea cup

my lover's clasp and breath

the bird's flicker of wing

rain on anything

the willow through the window

silver placed on the table

where I am the guest and the intruder. 

Very Little

To begin with

here's what I know:

 

Snow is wedged 

between pines. 

It will melt. 

 

Of course 

my behavior 

isn't geometric like lupine.

I mouth inconsistencies as I drag my torn kite. 

 

Fed up with the arithmetic of desire

I left the ring in a rill of sand. 

 

The bench sitting in front 

of this poem is bleached and peeling. 

Threats and laughter fell 

beneath its boards. 

 

Of course I'm haunted, 

aren't you? 

 

 

Make Believe

Our only cover is time

and the thin air of winter.

Become addicted to something 

especially the idea 

of who you are.

This is necessary make believe. 

Do we know the rose is a rose? 

That the frost on its hip

is the ash of burning angels?

Unlikely, is the answer

that quietly avoids our loss.

Our only cover is time

and from the garden we never left.

We only painted our eyes 

with the blood of our birth 

and wrapped our faces in cellophane. 

Pieces of a Prayer

I'm finally let out. How long?

8 years. Jesus...

Now what?  

They said I would find my way. 

I don't believe I know what I need because everything I thought I needed left and they were not a thing of need anyway, but an experience. So then I need experiences I think. But, I don't know if I know what I want to experience. Sex yes. Happiness, that's standard right? Understanding mostly. I like drugs, most drugs and coffee. But, I quit drugs and haven't found what I want since then. They said I would find my way, that it wouldn't be bottomless. That I wouldn't fall forever. I am still falling. 

 

 

 

Untitled and Its Accomplice

Its voice is the thrashing of a hundred and thirteen piranha

and what flesh you see me in is loosely stitched 

on the skeleton I borrow like an eczematous sack. 

And I didn't choose the number of fish or the routine

that begins at 3:44 in the morning

just before the time dreams are returned to their kennel

teeth rouge, lips dripping. 

After that we mostly paint in shades of pain:

ochre belting

that color she makes when forced into, 

the off lighted purple of days old bloating

the ridges of umber tissue shaped like antlers on our back. 

Later we relish our salt and wet down gristle 

with a gallon of hard cider, fire a cigarette

and match the buzz to the idea of anything else. 

Tell and Show

Tell and show 

and the angels don't 

so we grope 

at the isotope 

in lab coated prayer

looking for the cross 

to our T.

And I don't know 

why the black-eyed Susan

dried and dilute on the sill

makes my cry. 

And you like I 

I like you 

and this the angels know.

And I know not yet why

this matters 

to the secrets we hide 

from our sorrow

we ride with 

in that van without windows

to the desert

of our insurrection. 

Two Chairs

Two chairs

split-backed

and I sit across from

my younger self

a pint in his hand:

How the hell did you get here?

 

Slouched at the bar

my older self

swivels around:

Don't even start you little bastard.

Why you still let that boy around you anyway? 

Three boot steps and he's out the door. 

 

I can't answer either of them.

In the stained glass window

a ship breaks apart in the inlet.

Invention

Beneath the tilted barn

a rusted tractor sags

under the weight of its parts.

A wren somewhere in the rafters 

identifies me. Or have I identified it? 

I've never seen this tractor 

or the barn.

And isn't this how memory goes?

The difference between recall

and invention is a narrow 

alley.

The alley

is lined of damp brick walls

and oily pot holes.

Sometimes it's a rutted dirt 

road the tractor once drove

toward the field.