What parts of me you dont know
are suddenly lavishly decorated
accompanied by copious notes,
a row of grim warehouses
with studio potential and glory
to the little pink bike messenger
delivering manila envelopes
fat with mud.
The black dog is friendly, we think.
Its the cream-colored one thats been known to snap.
Blessed are basements you incorrectly assume
all houses come with.
I prefer to be surprised so I told you
to keep the program to yourself.
That didnt come out right.
Its also not true.
Last thing a control freak needs is another surprise.
~ ~ ~
I shouldnt dwell on it but I do.
I live in the dwelling
of what I think about.
From where I sit you look different.
Dwelling on anything distorts
but its not like I have a choice.
I dwell on incidents, scenes
that transpiredI pick them up,
put them down like a vase
or candy dish, a nail file
not because Im idle but because
Im interested in narrative structure.
Easy for you to say dont dwell on it
but its where I live by myself
under house arrest.
I know its better to be free
out in the yard waving my arms
at the bus or ice cream truck
or walking downtown like you,
wilting violets stashed
in the buttonhole of my coat.
If only what happened hadnt
insisted on a place of its own,
much less I call it home.
~ ~ ~
I. The Head Banger
the world is hard to soften
with my own head thinking
my thoughts hurt
you use your knuckles
I use my head
no one answers
better keep knocking
II. The Skin-Picker
Life is that plane of important-things-to-do I just missed.
Again. Im down here on the ground
on hands and knees gardening
in the abundant field
of my own dermatology.
Behold the geography of me
as jets overhead lull me
into their trance.
I know I should leave nature alone
but how to resist these beds,
so tempting is the meditation
of all I must mend.
III. The Stutterer
Every few words
is the snow blower
in the driveway,
of the season.
You stand over it
yanking the cord starter,
until one of the revs
catches full sentence.
IV. The Rocker
What greater solace than to move
without going anywhere.
Motion that is stasis, the best
and neither of both worlds.
When I die my soul will go on consoling itself
in the ghost of my body, my one dream come true.
Sitting in a cornfield rimmed
with bare trees, Ill be rocking
Rocking in plazas bedecked with scratchy leaves,
itinerant musicians, and pigeons
with iridescent necks
in cavernous theaters Ill be rocking
as actors in the tiniest lit spaces rehearse
revivals of Chekov and Ibsen.
I wont need a maternal hand on the cradle
or drugs or some other comfort like love.
I wont let the vastness of the universe get to me.
Not if Im rocking.
~ ~ ~
Being made to choose
Being washed overboard
Being raked into a pile
The hostile act
The whole charade
The smoking lake
Being taken to the cleaners
Being asked to tag along
Being turned into iron works
The slow burn
The stone wedged in
if theres room underneath
A silhouette made out of lace
An army of one
A reasonable freight rate
Being told were all out
Being charged on two counts
for having touched it
The wishbone syndrome
The fungible expectorant
The practical savagery
Being turned into claymation
Being turned into run-off
Into golden delicious
Into a shtick to warm up the audience
A working farm
A display rack
A dream containing a tiger
inside a cow, oh, and the shock of it
shot out of a rocket
The mud of whats been dug up
under the flutter of anonymous white butterflies
of what youre thinking
Being told you are not contributing
you put your hands over your ears
Being told you have forgotten what we were like
Being turned into a house with loose shutters
and then the wind with a piece
of plastic in its arms.
~ ~ ~
On Seeing Through You
Seeing through you is important, but not
for the reason you think.
Its not about having you figured out.
It has more to do with scenery.
Seeing whats on the other side of you.
Even if its only the filing cabinet
youre leaning against, or the refrigerator
cluttered with announcements for events
that are already over. Because you could also
be standing in front of one of those rare
white peacocks that, if spotted, brings good luck.
Its nice to not have to ask you
to move out of the way. Seeing through you
has always been strategically useful
because theres the Pacific Ocean,
theres David Smith sculptures
a world of wonders you cant help
getting in the way of.
If I have to secure your favor,
do your bidding, at least I can look
you in the eye and not miss the sun
setting on the Acropolis.
Table of Contents | Return to Poem Directory