When Day Broke Us

Day broke
And death
Streamed through a wooden window frame
Shadows danced on the brittle wall
And I saw you for the first time
Delicate hair on end, lit up
Red eyes hopeless, wild
Veins shouting from the corners of your nostrils
Heart on the floor
Love rose up in my throat and poured
Into the sink
Yellow stains hung around the edge of the sturdy vanity
That held up rotting walls and a sagging ceiling 
Imperfect walnut sanded smooth by hands
Now forever folded and cold.
 
From that day forward
The light never wavered
It was there in the morning
As each dark night clung to us, vying for our minds
It broke in, smashed its fist through the fragile pane
To illuminate my pale cheeks
Dead eyes
Your tired mouth
Our despair.

It shined on our cold fate
Not to warm
But to illuminate the hell before us.
 

Kablam, I Love You

Her heart suddenly exploded today
Sitting upright in a hard black office chair while
Updating spreadsheets
Numbers ricocheted off spongy grey matter
Enter and delete
Data
Motion, quash, errata

But at once a dripping noise burrowed into her brain
D-d-drip-sssplash
Blue splattered across a grey landscape
D-d-drip-sssplash
Red burst on the scene
Breaths came in short, pained pulls
Primary visual instinctual reactions
Colorful coronary dysfunction
Love
Anger
Sssplash
Longing
Despair
Sssplat
Her heart burst
Kablam

Reality is more than numbers
More than grey matter and black chairs and spreadsheets
Seal it off seal it off seal it
Keep it dry
Try all you want and one day
Riding the bus or tying your shoes
There will be a splat
And with that
Your heart with explode and you’ll know, but won’t live to tell.

Come home; it’s warm here

It’s simple
heat radiates from an old boiler
bath water
carefully drawn
instinctual faith
the steady sound of waiting

outside
wind grinds
teeth churn
spider fingers crawl
crack, fracture
seconds splay out
stretch
skin over a swollen abdomen

wind screams at the night
and the answer is always the same:
you’re not in control
forces brewed
by explosions, erosion, evolution, time

tiny stitches
in soft fabric
minutes hang in the air
heavy and sweet
steady
heart drum beat

here in the center
of a human body
there is this warmth.

A series of city verses

Smiling at the Myrtle Ave. sign,
the bodega cat,
the rainbow of shoes that cross the street.

Nodding at St. Francis who
forever peers toward heaven.

Winking at the little lady
who cries into her phone,
“Don’t go. Don’t go.”

She sketches them as
they stare at their shoes.

The movement of the city
on an optimist’s afternoon,
all the beautiful women walk their dogs.

Since the worst thing that could happen
has
nothing worries me anymore.

Smiles splatter like buckshot
on the concrete
Rain gurgles in the gutter.

20130808-222603.jpg

Love does not stop either

When death hangs in the pit of your stomach and pretends to move like a baby in a womb, you simply sit up and stand and head out and go. And do this and do that and talk talk talk.

“This sadness is crippling,” she said, sitting on the ground among spoons, shoes, notebooks and long stripes of sunlight.

Breathing had become difficult.

Death is not the bad guy, she said. It’s life that turns on us.

I agreed, but I didn’t want her to believe it. I frowned and said nothing.

I expected the gun shot to my head, but she never did. She sat in a hot car, sun streaming through the windows, talking about the absence of god and how death really isn’t so bad. She could feel everything. She was as bright as the lake as they crossed the bridge.  Her feelings were colorful and the volume of her life was all the way up. She tasted and drank until she couldn’t fit any more.

Death now hangs at the bottom of her belly. It fills her up and there’s no room for the rest.

“I can’t breathe.” Her face was pale and her eyes hollow. “I need a mouth to press to my mouth to bring me back to life.”

I shuddered. Her flesh had begun to rot and I could smell death as I stared at her lips.

Please, take my hand, I cried.

She couldn’t. She wasn’t able to move. Her face did not twitch as she stared straight ahead.

Death filled her and the only movement I could see was a tiny foot that pushed up from beneath the skin of her abdomen. I fell back gasping for air, filled with the realization of life. That life. That death. That love does not stop either.

Lungs make a difference in the long run (and in a fraction of a second)

Lungs inflate with air
belly expands
cold on the throat
and teeth
the breeze
touches the cheek’s soft skin
brushes its fingers through hair
is pulled in
hungrily
absorbed into cells
and expelled
spit out, changed
ready to be breathed again by
living things

-2
ooooommmmmm-
hhhhhhhhhhhhuh

Woodpecker
chips away at a dead jack pine
snow
tumbles under the pressure of sunshine
its presence alters
the earth
as ice melts
and is hungrily absorbed
into dirt

-1

A deep breath in never
released
means death
so give it back
let go
be satisfied

Snow melts
desire melts
air in
altered
released

The sudden, overwhelming realization you are alive.

Unquenchable

photo

From a glacier
Clean, bright mother queen
Rides a crocodile
Holding seven sons

Envisioning the river
She lies
As the mouth smiles wide

To be human is a curse
she cries
There’s blood in the earth
she sighs

I’ll return them to the Ganges
Back to the flowing water

She counts them as they drop
Clean and bright
The king begs her
To stop

They create number eight
He can’t ease her needs
So he flees

Distressed
It nurses river water from her breast
And she prays to Ganges

To be human is a curse
she cries
There’s blood in the earth
she sighs.

Ashes

In an unmarked box

IMG_2946what’s the best thing to do
when you sit at the table
among the unpaid bills and credit card offers,
egg cartons and books

But reside elsewhere

IMG_2931what is a body?
the skin, hair, bones and tendons
heart, lungs, brain

what is a soul?
the firing of electrons,
the essence of being

Where does it reside?

When it’s over is it really finally over?
I don’t know what it means.

The Apiarists

I was sitting on a rock by the edge of the sea, looking up at the moon and howling in defeat. Neither of us knew where we would go next. We sure as hell couldn’t stay there, though. The voices in the sky had grown louder, harsher. We couldn’t keep them at bay much longer.

“If I cross the line between good and evil, will you tell me?” His green eyes glowed like a snake.

“Ha-ha-ha-ha.” My dry laugh rose up into the night sky and echoed off of the moon, gliding back to my yellow dress and shattered against the soft cotton. Askr had been talking about peacocks and bees- living things. I couldn’t figure out how good and evil fit into the equation. I knew I’d heard of those words somewhere, though. I looked them up in the dictionary, but there was only a blank space where the definition should have been.

Someday we might understand. We would buy some big, white supers to house our bees, one queen. Set it all in a field of clover. Eat honey for sixty years then die of diabetes. But here we were now, in the beginning, before the bees. No idea where to turn for the answers to our questions. Such as: how to separate our whites from our colors? Should we wash our delicates separately? I stared at the big, hungry machine and collapsed to the ground in a heap of despair. Why couldn’t I hear the divine commands of the laundry gods? Had I gone deaf?

My green-eyed snake-man was digging his fingernails across his yellowing skin. We jumped into his ship.

“Where are we going?”

“To a land where evil doesn’t exist.”

“How will we know?”

“Embla, you just need to trust me for once.” I clasped his face with my hands and let it fall into my lap. I pushed his head into my bosom. He spit up yellow teeth as he cried on the edge of my gown.

“I’m falling apart! There are my kidneys by the sails! There’s my tongue on the hull!” He was trembling; I didn’t know what to say.

“I’m not good at puzzles- I can’t put you together again.” I’d been working on the same jigsaw puzzle since I was three years old. It was a picture of twelve chubby children with gap-toothed smiles. I still hadn’t finished it.

One day we would own peacocks and their tails would be our one, solid truth. We would stand before them and cry blue, green and purple tears. We would kneel and pray to the peacocks. Peahens would be our saints and baby peafowl, bishops. We’d play chess with them, but they’d keep moving and we would have to start over again, and again.

“If I move my hand to your leg, will you feel it?”

“Yes.”

“If I hold a knife between my teeth and fall upon your leg will you flinch?” His reasoning was becoming too abstract for me.

“Man up! Stop muttering nonsense!” I couldn’t cease speaking with exclamation points. They would fall from my tongue and drift to the ground like orange oak leaves. I’d pick them up and kiss them and put them in my pockets.

Now, Evil was a man who lived in Dallas. He was there when they shot JFK. He was also there when the ticking time bomb left no one to tell the true story. Evil had yellow eyes and a harsh, grating laugh. Nobody liked it when he laughed. Good was Evil’s twin. He went to Washington to get an education when they were eighteen and never saw his brother again. They would show up on our doorstep, never the same day. They’d come in and eat dinner- eggplant parmesan, veal. All we wanted by the time we’d grown old was to be able to tell the difference between those skinny, toothless twins.

We’d been at sea for thirty years. Our bearing was southwest.

“I’ll never be strong again. How will you find me attractive?” Askr was twitching on the hardwood deck.

“I like vulnerable men.” I’d cut his hair and it wasn’t growing back. He’d started to bald. He drank scotch by the gallon and ran his hands over his empty head. I’d drink orange juice and we’d kiss, lips parted, tongues lapping at the edge of the boat. In the water we swam into each other and reached a final agreement. At last we could understand so much more. Good was even more than a peacock tail! Evil was far worse than an empty washing machine! Even diabetes didn’t faze us. We just kept dreaming and loving and swimming without any clothes. Even when our limbs began to fall off, I knew exactly where to put them back on. I used a glue stick and we made a collage of ourselves.

There’s a pocketful of happiness in waiting, but a mouthful of loneliness, too

He is okay waiting. Jumping from one rock to the next under the sun, warm, hungry.

“Creating happiness is like throwing a pot,” he thinks to himself, pausing at the edge of a rushing brook. It runs, jumping, along black dirt, under sturdy bridges where people bring their children to school. It glitters as it flows into a river. Fish smile and run along with their gang. They feel a part of something truly special.

The river winds around like a chutes and ladders board and a dog walks in, up to its belly. Laps up some water with its pink tongue and the little girl at the bank giggles. It’s such an infectious laugh, her father thinks, and a tear slips from his eye.

And he sees it all, resting by the edge of that brook. He drinks all of it down and it nourishes him. He is okay waiting, content.

There’s a pocketful of happiness in waiting, but a mouthful of loneliness, too. He chews at it a while and calls her on the phone. Says, “But the wait isn’t so bad,” and “Happiness is a matter of molding a pot with your hands, then throwing it in the fire.” There’s glaze and paint and other brightly colored things applied. They are so beautiful we can’t look away.

“But,” she says, “Pots are fragile. They break.” She gave up waiting a long while ago. She is inspired by his hope and the sunshine that hits his hair and makes his eyes azure. “But, life happens,” she said and remembered how pots are thrown from the balcony after screaming turns to silence. Only to shatter on the pavement, brown insides exposed, azure and mustard paint glittering under the streetlight as she cries, crouched on the lawn, hoping the neighbors don’t see.

He drops the phone and turns away from the brook. He begins to run, bare feet beating the hard ground. Warm skin stung by the cold pavement. He runs and runs, happy still, heart filled with hope. Little beads of sweat trickle down his forehead and the cotton on the back of his neck is wet.

“Why wait when the time can be now?” he thinks.