Earl

(September 2010)

At nights like this I dream in blue because you

Were everything I once thought to be true

At night when the roar of the street turns cars into clouds of smoke

Beneath barefoot feet,

Rosary beads and a broken tambourine,

Tapping tango of a vintage cigarette and only the dogs and the cats knew

What was coming next, oh Earl

When a volcano threatened to conquer our trembling city

You took a taste of this, and pondered

The life of a coal miner and

Being insane in sane places

Where everything results in a yes or no answer

Silent footsteps on the dance floor

Mother nature, you weep.

It’s like throwing a drop of water into the ocean

When everyone wonders what its like to be you

Wondering what its like to be.

Checked and balanced to hell, books stacked high, vistaril

Pray tell, as you wander the third and fourth floor

Is any of this real?

Looking for some angelic eye candy

Dreaming of going to sleep

In a tropical storm

Trying to say yes-yes no

But dear god, you never go.

In the alleyway, you heard a tale

Of explosions on a mountaintop

And men painted black with soot trying to escape.

There are disasters everywhere and you once thought

You would go back in time to the roaring twenties

Until you realized you might be poor.

Sometimes we must remind ourselves

we have changed, we have changed-

But Ethiopia is sovereign, still

Or so I have heard.

And the best of tanks and poison gas could not triumph

Over spears and rocks, or so I have learned.

And each night

We falter, stumble, wonder

Jealous when everyone else is on more intriguing drugs

Asking could violins scream a more desperate love?

And the moonbeams have not answered me.

At nights like these I dream of two

Cards facedown on calendar papers

The sentry engages our escape, nightly romps to homeless shelters

Left behind in summer swelter

Fanning my elegy

White lies are lies nonetheless

And I can sing in the dark or slip out of this dress

Will a glimpse stave off, satisfaction for today?

I could exceed wildest dreams

It’s disappointment either way.

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I Am

I am

Every day of the week except Sunday.

I am the living, breathing, groping form of vegetation

Called afternoon fidelity.

I feel

Fingers drumming on the back of my neck.

I sit

Three inches from the window.

I smoke

Where we used to breathe, and sometimes

His apparition appears

Asking why I no longer grieve

Flaunting a grotesque reflection in revolving doors and sometimes

Lingers beside me.

I give

Food to the homeless-

I know

You know my reasons.

I use all

Three lifelines whenever

I cannot stand still

Any longer.

I fear

This open ended weakness.

I don’t want to stop

Living in a light bulb

I don’t want to surrender-

These novelties make

My world a little tighter.

Before

I lived all alone in a

Glass terrarium and displayed my

Talent—just shaky religion and

Entertained the intrusive the ordinary and the trivial the

Bored hung back where I hung each

Old pair of ballet slippers, each year a different hook, in the closet I called home, where

I once ran away from home, where

I dreamt

Of grown up things, I cried

During infomercials late at night with

This person I did not know, whose fault lines paved the way

Mornings could be glorious if you know what you know

If it starts to hurt, call Dr. Herbert Snow

Things he said in life and death

And on a chilly night when I saw my breath.

But now

I think

About his crucifixion, he said I hope

I look like Jesus when I die.

I might try

Not to sanctify, sometimes

I drive blind just to prove

I am driving away.

I wish

I could meet Glinda, she would

Teach me how to sing, I prefer

Waltzes two and three, she

Would not compromise this wish, she would

Come alive and dance in a soap dish,

Bubbles that look pink without reflection of light,

Light my way as I walk

This off-color terrain.

I fear

Omniscient predators

I am

Frantically setting spools of tripwire

To make

Each superstition

Seem less personal.

I watch the portal close when he says—

Je suis perdu—

But I will not return for you.

Just in case

I pull back the rope ladder

And wish the phantoms all the best

Six feet under ground, the grass determined to stay fresh

In Nassau, in between burial plots

His mantra resonates:

Tecum vivere amen, tecum obeam libens

I try to stay away.

I survive

Squinting at the sky

And the hope

For a three way call

Withers down to whatever.

Those moths

Wearing but black

Scream regret

As the white lights never fade

He’s reduced to brush strokes

Riptide lines.

He is

An anchor, masquerading love

I am

Painting his tidal wave landscape.


Charcoal

 

The tainted souls of this world are banished to an elsewhere

A perverted merry-go-round does not help

Logic leaking from star-gazed eyes.

Reason slides down my spine and puddles at my feet

Defacing what is known as

Real Life

I can’t be explicit, when who knows who is reading

annotations in my bible,

Imitation stained glass.

I just want to traipse through Mexican mud

Without leaving tracks.

Please don’t keep me here

Please don’t leave me there.

I remember shinier days

When dried blood could pass for rust

And the embossment of my nails on your cheek

While you were sleeping comatose

Let me know I left a mark

For a minute or two is all I need

Is chalked up to relief.

I’ve finally found a mate

Oh, you breathe oxygen too?

I remember the Alamo

I met a story once,

In the grotto of standing ovations

Where madness was rewarded—gingerly

With a glass of charcoal

(We failed miserably)

We are mosquitoes and our last words colloquial

Something about staying out of harm’s way

Just to make it safely to death

We grasp hands under the table.


Untitled

(2010)

In my mind I have travelled

halfway around the world and back

on a boat made from matchstick limbs and what happened in the past

telling stories to awe shamans and kings and refugees, today I hold my sweater close to my chest to fend off the cold, treading lightly ahead of a girl whose feet I hear but cannot see, a girl who may or may not be following me.

I have made love to a playboy centerfold, in the leaves and in the eaves of an attic and the abandoned speakeasy down the street; she swore to me she would never grow old, but now she walks the strip with candle wax skin.  In my dreams it won’t be long before the healing begins.

I have tunneled out of Bergen Belsen today, and jesus christ I am a superstar today.  And tonight I will crack an egg on your head and let the yolk drip down, let the yolk drip down, let the yolk drip down.

Slash your back with ragged nails and let the blood drip down.

Let the blood drip down.

In my mind I have joined the rock and roll circus and fucked the bearded lady and choked on fire, in the jail cell I pleaded guilty and was called a liar, in your mausoleum I peeled a tangerine until I realized it was my scalp.  And I did not stop.  No, I did not stop.

In the fortress where they held me in captivity, I counted the minutes on my fingers and the days on my bruises and tried to start the revolution. Chaos reigned each night I paced the halls, until they fed me oatmeal and dolls, and when I woke from sleep like mud I told the empty room:

The world is quiet here. The world is quiet here.

In a minute I will write my last will and testament, in an hour I will carve my mantra onto the stone walls of a cave and leave poignant hieroglyphics to depict my quiet rage,

I will spread the word of my synergistic relationship with Alpha and Omega; in vibrant shades of naked blue blood and three purple grapes, I will write my novella.  And they will all know.

And they will all finally know.

In the backyard burglaries and courtrooms of my higher power I will finally make my case. In the cabin in the woods I will finally come face to face with the man who escaped

from Guantanamo Bay, somewhat buried alive, told by three beggars that someone must die.  In an hour’s time I will pantomime suffocation and starvation, I will run to the grocery store and call it a vacation.  I will wonder why he chose to survive; disfigured faces cannot hide.

In a moment I will grab a scalpel to fix my mistake and in a month I will collect my welfare check and move to another state,

Where I will sit in your darkroom and see life through the devil’s blood soaked vision, and calmly make the first incision, before you can accuse me of treason.  I write my own fate. I write my own fate.

When your tasteless saliva will fuel the stolen ride, I drive seventy miles over the speed limit because I have to hide, because I make my own rules,  I will drive to the hospital and smile at the empty shells, as I release the gas I release them from hell, praise the lord and get back on the road and drive to your sweatshop and plead: I am not what I seem.  I am not what I seem.

I will drive to where they keep the stem-cell deprived kids, demand to be let in, demand to see where the prisoners live, scream: this is not normal.  But none of this is normal.

I will find the fallacy in government speeches, dirty needles in the sand at the loveliest beaches, skeletons in the closet of your perfect wife, and all I wanted was to celebrate the Ides of March, but I didn’t have a toga and I didn’t have a knife, so I knocked on your door and said goodnight.

Call me crazy but I still wear your crucifix under my skin in between mottled breasts inches away from the cavern in my chest where the left ventricle marches to its own beat and it brought me to my knees, but you do what you please.  You do what you please.

In my mind I seek and destroy the latter day saints, the ones who told me I could not wait, polygamy and virginity a child’s game, in the kitchen with a vision that I would be saved, I would be praised, I could not speak.  And that was not relief.

That did not bring me relief.

But the circus master will finally crack, after spending too many years with Siberian tigers breathing down his back, his hoax of manic depression no one seems to respect, and one too many dances with Lucy- what could you expect?  He will scream surrender and tear off his clothes, call the magician’s assistant onto the stage, as his final act he will open up the cage, but do not be afraid.  You must not be afraid.

In a moment I will run out of gas, knowing this feeling could never last, still groping for atonement in a senseless fast. I feel everything.  There must be another way.  But there is no other way.

And I see your face in the wrong end of a shotgun, in the arbitrary shooting gallery of hustlers and mothers and pirates and preachers, Hare Krishna and kindergarten teachers.  I see your face in the reflecting pool, before I jump from a white phallic symbol, I see your face in the watchful eye of a camera lens, in the rearview mirror of the doctor’s Mercedes Benz, I see your face in the static between our glass-half-full president and my television screen, in the hopeless carnage of the American Dream, in the belly of the beast but no, this is not your feast.  This is not your feast.

I am everything that’s left

After the seventh car wreck.

I am everything that’s left after your black eyed kisses and a genie’s three wishes and I am what they had in mind when they invented the exit bag, I am what they had in mind when they gave up on intelligent design, and I am doing just fine.

I am doing just fine.

I am the out of state plates you left behind for the police to find, as your getaway car sped down the street.  I am the speechless orifice of every spectator at the zoo, close the gate before its too late but the elephants have already escaped, devouring everything they could not taste, in their frantic race to meet the fate that was pulsing through your sadistic veins.

But love does remain.

Love will always remain.

I am the powdered binges of disco and fishnets, I am the Madonna of all that is left, I am the dagger to the Achilles heel of pro-life rallies and suburban prosperity, I am the lover that lied, the fleeting amphetamine high, the place where you peak peak peak peak

And I will proudly wash your feet.

And I am the daughter you hope to never meet.

I see your face in the Aryan alphabet, anorexic horse and carriage rolling down the path less travelled to deliver the verdict on the last deviant race.

I match the stride of my invisible friend; I do not care if my stitches ever mend, because the word of the prophet was delivered in The End.

In my mind I make believe I was a victimless crime. I was Mrs. Diver who dove headfirst into the Red Sea, the woman everyone wanted to be, I who made a deal with the devil, sealed my fate to die wrapped in heroin bedspreads in the room where my count used to drink me to sleep.

I am the unwilling donor of the godforsaken irony of the death white ivory of your precious piano keys.

I am the ignorant reject who fell victim to identity theft publicized by my unjust death on a bench in Central Park West.

And all I wanted was to accompany you to a masquerade ball.  That was all.  That was all.

But I am the rules and regulations of a border patrol station, the voice behind Susan’s brutal imagination, I am the menu in a vegan cafe, I am every customer’s dismay when they open me up to find raw meat is all I contain.

I am the stoplight that keeps you waiting forever in the land of mongrel races who slowly surround your pleasant painting with their haggard arms raising:

Can you spare a little change?

Could you please spare some change?

And in my mind I lost my mind and shaved my head and abandoned my clothes for tangerine robes and proudly pledged allegiance to the United States of the Weather Underground and the Hemlock Society and Your Black Muslim Bakery.

In the shadow of a second I may have learned a lesson in the tremors and quakes of a tambourine shake, in Haitian lips that quiver, in their final moments of gasping and choking in vain, resigning to die in a shallow grave, as the reporters and supporters watch from a safe distance away, shaking their heads as they say: my, isn’t that a shame.  But if I call myself a mystic will if all be ok?  In my mind I still visit gypsies, and enjoy a gin and tonic, and sympathize with Lorena Bobbitt, and ransack their conclave. Please forgive me but they robbed me and tambourines do not make it a game.

I am all that’s left after the last communion host and an unholy ghost and the age I fear most.

In my dreams I saw three samurai practice seppuku and thought I might do it too, I see your face in the garden variety court case open and shut, in the thousands of forgotten cigarette butts and in the curious eyes of the passerby’s who I observe from the passenger side of a hitchhiked ride and in the message carved by a boy who began to care: Happiness is only real when shared, happiness is only real when shared.

And in the double mirror I was stalked by Satan, and my hands could not stop shaking, when I saw my newborn baby, I delivered so he could save me, and if the cloakroom closes at noon let these waves efface me soon, let me fly to the dark side of the moon, another day I’ll want to say how it all went down, but that is all for now, that is all for now.