Poetry | June 01, 2003

Featuring the Poems:

  • Into the Breach
  • Her My Body
  • Love Song
  • My Walk


Into the Breach

I want to tell them we can hear

what they say. With coffee

in hand or a hot fudge cream puff

tell them.


Tell them while offering

blue sky on a plate

or a river for their living room.


Something to break the ice, that says

I’m a man who wishes you nothing

but opulence, but long days

of wind in the leaves. I’ll always


be surprised we’re not equipped

with fingers more telepathic,


I want skin that brushing skin

transmits my true dream, making


trust and the handshake,

making faith and the kiss

one in the same. I would touch him


on the shoulder as he waxes his car,

would slip my hand under hers

as she lifts a tray


of nasturtiums, and they’d believe me

when I say it’s more than silence

I’m after, more than a night’s


sleep made of ocean, deep ocean

with me on top. They’d know

in our house there have been

blood hours when biting each other

with words we’ve stopped

just short of bone. Yet alway


with windows closed because someone

like us might be listening,


elbows on sills, faces

just beyond the reach of the moon.


As last night, when he threw

the punch of slut, we pushed closer


and today just waved

across the lawn at their shame

as they stood on opposite side


of their car, while trying to be

anywhere but inside their faces.


Her My Body

The dog licks my hand as I worry

about the left nipple

of the woman in the bathroom.


She is drying her hair, the woman

whose left nipple is sore.

We looked this evening

for diagonal cuts

or discoloration

or bite marks from small insects

that may be in our bed.


It is a good bed, a faithful bed.

A bed that won’t be hurt

by the consideration we gave

to the possibility of small

though disproportionately

strong insects in our bed.


The blow dryer sounds like a jet

taking off. The first time

I flew to Brussels, people began

the journey happy but ended

with drool on their shirts.

She is drying her hair

though she has never been to Brussels.

Drying her hair

though she could be petting a dog.

Drying her hair

while having red thoughts

about what the pain in her nipple means.


I would not dry my hair

in such a moment but I am bald.

The body of the woman

has many ways to cease

being the body of the woman.


I have one way

to be happy

and she is that way.


I would like to fly with her to Brussels.

We would not be put off by the drool.

This is what happens when people sleep.

We would buy postcards of the little boy

who saved Brussels when he peed on a fire.

We would be romantic in public places.


For the moment

these desires can best be furthered

by petting a dog.


I’m also working on this theory.

That sometimes a part of the body

just hurts.

That the purpose of prayer

is to make the part of the body

that sometimes just hurts

the little toe or appendix.


Something vestigial or redundant.

Something that can be jettisoned.


I have no reason

to use the word cancer

while petting a dog.


There is a piece of a second

during which a jet is not flying

nor is it on the ground.


I’m working on a theory

that no one can die

inside that piece of a second.


If you are comforted

by this thought you are welcome

to keep it.


Love Song

I am misunderstanding a song

in Spanish. The song

in Spanish


not my confusion, though one day

I hope to be confused

in many tongues,

to botch my days

with polyglot savoir-faire.


On my CD he’s kissing her

under a peanut butter sky.


He’s already asked the sea

for permission to marry

her pubic hair.


The sea said first

you must solve


two hundred

quadratic equations,

proving true lovers

paid attention during algebra.


I have no idea

what these sounds mean

but I’ve never asked

a dictionary to dance.


If the guitars

invited me to join the army

I’d salute.


The singer says, from afar

I’ve admired the jumping jacks

of your navel, I promise

to make you salads

the rest of your days. Who hasn’t


been brought to tears

by vegetables

or wouldn’t be by the music

of these words,


which sound like you

calling me on the first

of too many

nights alone.


My Walk

February today. The first r in February

is silent in my country. Some of us

also say orn juice for orange juice.

There’s a linguistic term for this kind

of elision, the dropping of a sound

because it is followed by a similar sound.

Last night’s snow makes whispers

of my feet. There’s no window

in the custard thick clouds. If I

could hang maples from the sky, up

would equal down. It feels

like I’m walking inside a prayer,

between the folded hands of Earth

and dream. Someone’s

been decapitating snow men

and women and children. The heads

are carefully removed and placed

at what would be the feet

of their circular souls.

I pass a dozen of these reminders

of the French Revolution. How often

the idea of freedom is the practice

of death. I enter the woods

beside other footprints, boot and paw.

Time here is the sense after years

that a stone has got up and moved.

But what kind of clock is a mosquito

in winter? More falling than flying,

it lands in the snow. I scoop it

on my finger. It doesn’t move, has

no sense it rests on a meal of blood.

I blow, it sputters away, drops.

Is this the world having a dream?

Would this day not survive

without a fantasy of summer?

I’ll forget this visitation

for months or years. A little drunk,

I won’t know how to attach words

to my feeling that I’m lucky

there are stars. I’ll remember

the mosquito then, and mention it

across the open mouths of glasses

on a table. At the far end, someone

will accept my astonishment,

will wonder aloud if we’ve seen

half of what exists. We’ll both

look away then, our ardor exposed.

I am cold now and back at my door.

As it opens, it sounds like my house

draws a breath to speak.

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