... between impulses and repentances,
between advances and retreats.
—Octavio Paz, Eagle or Sun?


Here I am
posing in a mirror of scratch paper sonnets
sonnets as rare
as a live Aegean rhino

absorbing the cracklings of my craft
its riverine volcanoes
its spectacular lightning peninsulas
emitting plentiful creosote phantoms
from an ironic blizzard of unsettled pleromas

scouring through years of unrecognized pablums
of constant arch-rivalry with extinction
bringing up skulls of intensive discourse
by the claws in one’s mind
which seem to burn with systemic reduction

one then suffers poetic scorching by debris
by inaugural timber which flashes
by friction which flares up & harries
by unrecognized moltens collapsing in glass
of initial intuitive neglect

as if one’s fangs
were fatally stifled by incipience
by verbal range war didactics
by territorial driftwood
by sudden undemonstrative detractions
awed
by the diverse infernos of Trakl & Dante

one’s youngish body stands
devoured by reverential print trails
momentarily cancelled
by the loss of blasphemous nerves & upheaval
stung
by demeaning neutralities
ravaged
by a blank Sumatran solar psychosis
by a tasteless collision of rums in transition
by a conspiracy of obscured fertility by hubris

as one sucks in doubt from a wave of tumbling blister trees
there exists irradiations flecked with a gambled synecdoche
with indeterminate earthenware splinters
taking up
from aboriginal density
a forge of Sumerian verbal signs
cooked with a tendency
towards starfish hypnosis
towards psychic confrontational drainage
conducting one’s frictions in a torrential furnace of osmosis & ire

yes
apprenticeship
means poetry scrawled in unremitting leper’s mosaic
cringed in smoky interior cubicles
releasing various deleriums
as if pointed under a blackened Oedipal star
with its dark incapable tints
with its musical ruse of unspoken belladonna

poetics
an imaginal flash of Russian chamber lilies
stretching under a blue marsupial sun
like kaleidoscopic tumbleweed
fugaciously transfixed
upon an anomalous totem of glints
upon rainy Buenos Aires transfusions
above the urinal coppers of a flaming polar star rise

of course
kinetic
like magical malachite rivers
flowing from moons
blowing through the 3/4 summits of motionless anginas

I’ve looked
for only the tonalities that scorch
which bring to my lips wave after wave
of sensitivity by virulence

yes
a merciless bitterness
brewed by a blue-black tornado of verbs
in a surge of flashing scorpion chatter
in a dessicated storm of inferential parallels & voltage
like a scattered igneous wind
co-terminus with the bleeding hiatus & the resumption of breath

resolved by flash point edicts
by consumptive stellar limes
by curvature in tense proto-Bretonian fatigue

mixing magnets
juggling centripetal anti-podes & infinities
cracking the smoke of pure rupestral magentas

yes
hatcheries
floating through acetylene corruption of practiced mental restraint
to splendiferous vistas mingled with inspirational roulette
its mysteriums
always leaping like a grainy rash of scorching tarantellas
or leaking moon spun alloestrophas*
as if speaking
in irregular glossological green Dutch

a frenetic seminar on febricity
a reitteration of hendecasyllabic agitation & stinging
a ferocious vacillation
explosive as random “aggregational” nodes
mimed by a black consonantal dissection
its maximal priority
forked at “hypotactic inclusion”
with isochronous internal procedure
with ratios
with phonic penetralia by distortion
primed by anomalous “nuclear accent”
by a cadence composing syllables & compounds

yes
poetics
its force
jettisoned by “hypotaxis”
by ... paratactic co-ordination
& fire
I find myself each evening, while commuting on the 101, or when the blue barns and silos within shut down and darkness lifts me to sleep, repeating commonplace words I had heard earlier that day, or entire phrases from conversations I had with acquaintances. And I twist my breath over a syllable or sentence like a fin slicing water toward trawled dolphin, or the dregs of a bog dripping from the faucet in a marble bathroom. While driving home, I sweat from netting in an innuendo uttered that morning from parking-attendant or tourist, a code which, after originally sinking in the swamp of consciousness, has surfaced, its skin brackish and green. Later, I sit up in bed, water-bucketed awake with the chill that I had not listened to someone’s plea, that there is a fire-alarm in everyone’s voice, that the foundations are buckling, and though the sidewalk is glazed with moonlight, the remaining deer are bucking up the hills; if I were to stop, I would smell these lands burning; if I were to drink, I would taste water heavy with smoke. The voices rise, converge within my stifling fields, until I fumble out of bed to pace my apartment and beg that they are only echoes and not the petitioners themselves, echoes that have inhabited me so that I might listen to their squabbles, their women giving birth, their cocktail parties, diners, their salesmen crying hysterically in motel rooms, the deafening hiss of prayers.
this week’s last load of laundry has me stealing
my son’s precious teenage time    I reenact the duty

of my father and what comes hammering back
are trips with him    pushing his cart of dirties down

the street    his southern charm waving or shaking
hands—: bus driver    mailman    neighbors get

countless invites to dinner or a Saturday bbq
my father’s good morning darlin’ clanks & pings

as quarters spill into the bona fide grip
of the present    my son’s hands show signs

he’s ready for the tedious work ahead as he storms
through pile after pile    then his precision when offering

assistance to a stranger    this chore becomes a lesson
for the two of us    this shared work turns and tumbles  

neatly folds—: a fond memory
 
on a bus
we head for the waterfalls

falling in and out of sleep
i look out the window into the dark night
and fall in love
with everything
i cannot see

i don’t know what time it is
but it’s late
and most everyone is asleep
or at least quiet

but my father stands up
from his seat at the very front
and turns to face the rest of us

he is a silhouette
a shadow that i can love
as his shadow arm raises
and his shadow finger points
toward
a place in the blackness
that we are supposed to remember

*

my parents were gone
and i hid in the bush in front of our house
while the other boys lured all the stray dogs
up our driveway and into our back yard

when there were enough
of the dogs
of us
we chased them back out

and i jumped out of the bush
with a broomstick
and swung it at the dogs’ legs
tripping them
making them fly
tumble
break
down the steep driveway

there and watched
as the dogs lifted themselves up

whimpering
frightened
and limped and ran away

i was 9 and there was something that i wanted
and it was growing inside of me
and there was nothing i could do
to stop

*

my mother excitedly urges us
to join her on the rooftop

the moon, she says, the moon is huge tonight.
the biggest of the year.

i ask her
when she first embraced magic

and she reaches for her keys
and shakes her head at father

his jaws clenched tight
on the couch in front of the tv

what is magic when there is faith, she says

on the rooftop
she embraces the light
and offers me her god

and i say
no this needs to be magic

and i say
no this needs to be time

*

we touch down on US soil
we are taken to Santa Monica beach
I don’t remember having seen the ocean before

there is the touch of sand at the bottom of my feet
I look up at the sun
and suddenly I can’t remember my name.

a hand pulls at my arm
this is skin on my skin
he wants me to run against him

I tumble into the sand
he pulls away toward the finish line
and stops to tell me to keep running

but i don’t rise into the air
and instead watch him cry
as he promises to make me whole
Two sisters:
always in matching dresses
thin flowered cotton, with pinafores and sashes
hung like pillowcases.
Little scarecrow shadows
instead of flesh and blood girls.

Screaming mother:
once, she shaved Téré’s head
because Téré broke a plate.
Not ashamed to bend her daughter’s wrists
in front of me,
their names gargled in her throat.

Moth-thinned:
through the screen of a back window.
It faced the corridor of dirt
where my mother hung our laundry,
where I once found twin kittens
torturing a maimed sparrow.

One day:
she said a big frame slid off of a bookshelf and hit her.
And then they were gone, all of them.
I waited by the back window and mewed
but no one answered, not even the ghosts.
Pulling the car over, it’s hard to see through all of this. All of these. Tears. Probably a bucket for each of the 38 years I’ve been alive. They won’t all come rushing down, or up, or sideways, at the same time. It’s just five minutes worth, for now. It’s enough for all of the reminders.

To know what it’s like to want to pull the skin off of your body because maybe that would make more sense than living in it, but slowly because you’re never sure of anything, by the time you reach the folds of your torso you may change your mind and choose the tougher way out.

To know what it’s like to say goodbye to not trying hard enough, removing yourself from the worst case scenario, to walk head on into… yourself, one day ripping apart at a time. Slowly, because they say losing weight too fast isn’t healthy, and putting the weight back on two-fold will most certainly kill you quicker than it takes you to change your mind, about anything.

To know what it’s like to fall in love after after the divorce, quickly. Crushing. And to fall out of it at roughly the same degree. Crashing. And remembering that this is what it’s like… to live. And you’ve finally done the homework…right and/or wrong, it’s done. You know this because everything hurts, differently. Crying isn’t confusing, it’s only sadness. And yes, to be able to say that word, divorce. And to know what it’s like to sleep at night.

And to know what it’s like for your body to feel, again. After. Much after. (Time is irrelevant). And to respond, not again. This is entirely new. The young version of you was never allowed to respond; to say thank you, to say yes with a smile, or silence. To be. To sit, in silence. To sit, still.

And to know what it’s like to have the luck. All the luck… in this fucked up kind of world. For luck to find you. A needle in the mess of burnt sticks that are never good enough for a fire. This is the world we should try to live in longer than the world in which we walk from, run through the edges of. To be able to see all of these worlds, from where you stand. From where these feet stand.

I’d like to carry you through your world to this world — neighbors, or something similar, not too far away. But that isn’t the way to here. The I. First, small kisses to the foreheads of your body. Then you have to feel your skin coming off. Slowly.
          I am alive in Los Angeles!
          I am alive in Los Angeles!
Here in the wild, wild west..
The warm wind hits my face,
I walk across stained concrete,
I cry tears of joy on Flower Street..
I watch families dancing
on their porches on Christmas Eve.
I smile widely.
I move thru the city,
my heart beating swiftly
as sirens speed by me.
I revel in the sadness—my soul is deep
I take full responsibility.
Give me everything!
It hurts—it's so beautiful!
The universal
Soulful multicultural
Emerging worldwide
tribe people
          I am alive in Los Angeles!

          I am alive in Los Angeles!
Where the angles change like isosceles.
Citywide topographies
undulate across massive landscape
moving from chain-link to palatial gates into
separate economic states with rising birth rates
below hilltops in the streetscapes.
One can barely even equivocate
the fluctuations in rent so evident
all across from block to block to block.
Extravagance and adversity interlock:
palatial spots, crosswalks, burrito shops,
housekeepers are hanging out at bus stops,
the Country Club's all walled off.
The city's blowing up like a molotov
even when I'm in the shower
I hear the horns honk.
          I am alive in Los Angeles!
Whether I’m listening to Miles Davis
or electronic music
I move thru traffic
loving the inner-city dynamics
the midcity magic moves
from happiness to tragic,
adversity to extravagance
like seeing Korean grandparents moving slowly
Catholic school children crossing fearlessly
I saw a stray dog that looked like Spuds Mackenzie
by the Belmont Tunnel on 2nd Street
live and direct in the Rampart District.
          I am alive in Los Angeles!

All the people stopped stifled up in gridlock.
Everywhere roadblocks cause charged reactions.
Waves of chaos are collapsing
keeping people bottled up.
Tempers are rising up,
desperate drivers look for shortcuts.
There's no way around it.
Congested walls keep surrounding,
surrounding coming down around us.
Claustrophobic intensity
stuck in the web of density,
people have a propensity to have anxiety.
It's daily with so many people in one place.
Interacting face to face to face
with different destinations.
Everybody keeps racing
in this fast-paced nation.
          I AM ALIVE IN Los Angeles!

The neon crowns glow
above the City of Angels,
haze hovers after another
nuclear sunset, I love it all.

          I AM ALIVE IN Los Angeles!
It was funny, in a way. The way that things occurred. You held yourself so simply, I thought. I only ever wished that I was a better person. There were times when I thought I stood out. There were times when I thought I lived obscurely. I can’t wait, I said. I was sitting very simply. My legs were crossed. I felt cool in the weather. I was thinking about what I might want to eat for dinner. I was thinking about where I might have something to eat. It was a very nice day. The air was cool. I was talking to you. But there was something to do. There was something doing. I could feel my fingers when I moved them. I could feel my toes. I could see you from where I was standing on the patio. I was always looking at something. I think this thing is swell, I said. It was funny. I was typically very forthcoming. I am very forthcoming, I thought.
~

If I call out to the world. You do not own the world. A child. Or an oath you take. Or a promise you make. And every time the smoke clears, and there is something new on the horizon. It was a brand new day. It was in the afternoon. And I wanted to do something entirely new, at that point. Each second provides its own opportunity, I thought. Or that was what I was saying. All I was saying to you, at that point. The things I kept telling you. I put my head in the water. Your color here in the water. I was kneeling by the water, and I asked you a question. It was like there was a sudden twist of color. Or if ever there were going to be color. The surface of the water was colorful.
~

In a minute, I said. I looked around. I could get out of my chair anytime I wanted to, I thought. I could not deny that I was looking around the patio, at that point. But I was listening, too. I could admit that, too. I wondered about the various things I was doing. How I might have wanted to move to another place. I could see smoke. There was fire. There was a lot to do. I had a lot of things that I wanted to do, at that point. I was in the house all morning. I could see my pencils and pens on the desk from where I was standing in the hall. I found that I could think of a lot of things at one time. For instance, I was thinking about how I might hold my head up firmly and correctly at any given time. I wondered about the silence between us. It felt very awkward, at that point. I put my best foot forward. I felt good. However, I was surprised by the chain of events. The way that things were going. What was going to happen next? There was a lot of noise. I went on. And that was the way it was going to be, I thought. No matter the cause. The color was very good when I was leaning over the water. I could hear you.
~

One afternoon, I put everything in the house in order.
1      

i want to have your child
cuz upon losing you
i’ll have more than memory
            more than ache
            more than greatness
i’ll have laughter

i do not mean to be fatalistic
know the limits put on you black man
me, black woman

when you are killed or imprisoned
desert or separate from me
i’ll continue
fill the void of your absence with
love between me and ours

gods



              2

you love me
in your eyes. don’t say it loud
pain
america will never let you



              3

you’re home. it’s a surprise
you’ve made it thru another day
one more night in your arms
to fuck

merge our bodies merge
give
wealth/freedom
congress cannot legislate away



              4

eyes wide as suns inquire
where’s daddy?

he’s gone away

i love my daddy

i smile
he’s a good man

eyes wide as suns
burn my hand with a kiss
go outside to play in the streets

god
what god is about
I came into the world a young man
Then I broke me off
Still the sea and clouds are Pegasus colors
My heart is Pegasus colors but to get there I must go back
Back to the time before I was a woman
Before I broke me off to make a flattened lap
And placed thereon a young man
Where I myself could have dangled
And how I begged him enter there
My broken young man parts
And how I let the mystery collapse
With rugged young man puncture
And how I begged him turn me Pegasus colors
And please to put a sunset there
And gone forever was my feeling snake
And in its place dark letters
And me the softest of all
And me so skinless I could no longer be naked
And me I had to de-banshee
And me I dressed myself
I made a poison suit
I darned it out of myths
Some of the myths were beautiful
Some turned ugly in the making
The myth of the slender girl
The myth of the fat one
The myth of rescue
The myth of young men
The myth of the hair in their eyes
The myth of how beauty would save them
The myth of me and who I must become
The myth of what I am not
And the horses who are no myth
How they do not need to turn Pegasus
They are winged in their un-myth
They holy up the ground
I must holy up the ground
I sanctify the ground and say fuck it
I say fuck it in a way that does not invite death
I say fuck it and fall down no new holes
And I ride an unwinged horse
And I unbecome myself
And I strip my poison suit
And wear my crown of fuck its
No more lines on the luminescence of   light, of   whatever variation.
No more elegies of youth or age, no polyglottal ventriloquism.
No more songs of raw emotion, forever overcooked.
No more the wisdom of   banality, which should stay overlooked.
No more verbs of embroidery.
No more unintentional phallacy.
No more metaphor, no more simile. Let the thing be, concretely.
No more politics put politically: let the thing be concretely.
No more conditional set conditionally — let the thing be already.
No more children pimped out to prove some pouting mortality.
No more death without dying —immediately.
No more poet-subject speaking into the poem-mirror, watching the mouth move, fixing the thinning hair.
No more superiority of the interiority of that unnatural trinity —you,me,we— our teeth touch only our tongues.
No more Gobstoppers: an epic isn’t an epic for its fingerprints.
No more reversals of grammarif asemphasis.
No more nature less natural; no more impiety on bended knee.
No morejeu de mot, no moremot juste.
No more retinal poetry.
i. good reality TV
a couple wanted to be -to-be and TV wants the couple-to-be
to be on TV. the people from TV believe we’d be good TV
because we had wanted to be -to-be and failed and now might.

to be good at TV make like TV isn’t. make like living in our living room
and the TV crew isn’t there and the boom isn’t there
saving the woman from TV’s voice that won’t be there
saying tell us about the miscarriage. in the teeming evening
and some dog barking at all we cannot hear.

         ii. would you be willing to be on TV?
people in their house on TV are ghosts haunting a house haunting houses.
pregnant women in their houses on TV are haunted houses haunting a house haunting houses.
our living room a set set for us ghosts to tell ghost stories on us.

would you be -to-be on TV?
to be the we we weren’t to be and the we we’re-to-be to be on TV.
the pregnant woman agrees to being a haunted house
haunting flickering houses. yes ok yeah yes.

         iii. forms
in the waiting room for the doctor to TV the pregnant woman’s insides
out on a little TV on TV. filling a form on TV is to flesh into words
on a sheet that fills up with you. yes yes and turn to the receptionist
only to turn back to a ghost waiting to be officially haunted yes.

a magazine riffles itself on TV; loud pages, a startled parrot
calls your name then alighting on magazines
and waddle the hall you -to-be and the TV crew that isn’t going to be there
on TV and the doctor and you are looking at her little TV on TV the doctor
says see? there they are. ghosts sound themselves out to flicker on the little TV.
there they go to the pregnant woman scared to be such good TV.

         iv. cut
to one-more-time-from-the-top yourself
is to ta-daaaaa breathing. the curtain drops, plush guillotine.
would you talk about the miscarriage one more time? ta-daaaaa

         v. all the little people out there
after she was a haunted house before we haunted us for TV then
the pregnant woman watched TV. vomit on her teeth like sequins.

our TV stayed pregnant with the people from TV’s TV show
pregnant with haunted houses wailing then smiling up into our living room.

it helps she said of the people from TV’s TV show so yes then to TV to help,
she said, the haunted houses in the living rooms we said yes to help
thousands of wailing houses.

         vi. only with some effort
the best ghosts trust they’re not dead. no
no the best ghosts don’t know how not to be alive.
like being good at TV.

inside the pregnant woman, the -to-be of the family-who-failed-
but-now-might-be-to-be were good TV.
but the we-who-failed butterfingered and stuttered,
held our hands like we just got them.

we’ve been trying so long we said we can’t believe it this is finally happening.

         vii. scheduled c-section: reality TV
and they’re born made of meats on TV!
the doctor voilas them from the woman’s red guts
into the little punch bowls.

the new mother says I want to see them my babies!

the doctor shoves the new mother’s guts back, express lane grocer.

the demure camera good TVs up two meat babies into wailing ghosts.

off, the new mother’s blood like spilled nail polish.

         viii. ghost story
did you know about dogs and ghosts? one barking at one’s nothing?

         ix. the miscarriage: exposition for reality TV
it helps to be on TV. we want to be good on TV. ok yes.
to help we want to be good TV. yeah yes.
please tell me about the miscarriage.

the woman from TV wants good TV and something specific that gets you right
in the tear to the eye to milk the pregnant woman’s breasts heavy with—.

good, we talk about the dead one on TV.

it was horrible, the blood was everywhere that morning a dog barks.
one-more-time-from-the-top. it was horrible, the blood was everywherrrrr
doggone dog goes on. on to take three and it was horriboom
in the boom goes the barking and bad TV! bad TV! we want to help
being good TV please tell me about the miscarriage
one more time it was

         x. after the c-section was more like
the doctor shoving the new mother’s guts in, jilted lover packing a duffel.

         xi. talking about the miscarriage: behind the scenes
please tell me about the miscarriage
please tell me about the miscarriage
please tell me about the miscarriage
please tell me about the miscarriage
the fifth take and it was horrible, that’s all.
they call them takes, again we’re robbed.

         xii.
did it help watching a house fill with haunting every room
or help haunting the house? watch! here we are:
an expanding family of ghosts. we aren’t here but yes ok yeah yes.
did it help? and even now know yes they were born on TV
but before it was horrible wasn’t it must have been. please tell me
about the miscarriage for I don’t know how not to be telling
and the dog growls still and still and still
My love was in charge of seeing half of things
and I was in charge of seeing the other half.

Look, my car, I said.
Look, he said, the sun came up,

kissing my mouth through which I breathed,
pushing a grass trimmer

through the grass in the front of our house.
Nobody sees it,

it is at the very end of the county
in a cul de sac of coyotes and the teenagers

look for each other outside our house
and can’t find each other

in the early morning, in a language of howls
and sighs that they speak fluently,

some of them getting away,
some of them passing out to be found at dawn

still sleeping when my love wakes up
to make coffee. Then he can see them and tell me they are there.     

Look, I reply,
a raindrop on our window.

Look, I reply,
a snowflake on our window.

Look, I reply,
wind blows through our window.

Look, I reply,
a snake is knocking at our window.

Look, I reply,
through the window, which I can see from the bed,

there is a snake and it is knocking at our window.
My love brings me coffee.

Every morning my love wore a lion mask,
my love sunned on the patio.
After so many years of abbreviated sky, the new bird
is cast from the bars of its former cage.

What’s left of the aviary is the no longer boy,
a soldier unable to exit a door he never entered.

He drops off the kids, puffs out his little adopted cloud
into Nevada. Some of it stays inside him,

the hugely never of Nevada. The lattice
between the species begins to curve.

It coats his lungs. He begins his tour of duty,
flicks on the computer, the only window

in the operation room, eye of the new bird
which has none. He sleeps with his own half open,

holding the bird with his invisible string,
as if the war were not unkind. The casualties—

what is a casualty if not swallowed
by its facelessness—the digital idea of death

comes flapping across the water. The blood
can be viewed from a satellite, the way that

mourning spills immediately through the minus
sign, through the semblance of a bowl.
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