Despairing

That feeling of my soul getting yanked

That feeling of my soul getting yanked

I wonder where my soul hides when I’m sick

My heart feels as if it’s getting beat up

Is it because the restless ocean is clumping up?

My heart beats regardless of the pain

It beats spewing out red thread like a red spider

A sinkful of red thread gets submerged in water

My heart beats like a girl marathon runner who only had ramen to eat

 

Maybe the soul of the bald girl in a hospital gown hanging by the

Tulips Bloom from Youths’ Blood

I.

 

It’s the season of wine, meadows, and Rose

The court of spring is cleared of choughs and crows

Generous clouds now water Rey[1] more freely than Khotan[2]

The caged bird and I both long for our own land

 

How wayward are you, Heaven!

How vicious are you, Heaven!

You’re headed to vengeance, O Heaven!

You have no faith

You have no creed—no creed

O Heaven!

 

 

II.

 

Where did the handsome beloved go?

Where did the handsome beloved go?

I wonder, where did that tall, shapely cypress tree go?

 

He spread his light among us like a candle.

Where did he go? So strange, where did he go without me?

 

All day long my heart trembles like a leaf.

All alone at midnight, where did that beloved go?

 

Go to the road, ask any passing traveler —

That soul-stirring companion, where did he go?

 

Go to the garden, and ask the gardener —

That tall shapely rose stem, where did he go?

 

Jesse's Farm

We’re driving and the radio says mass marine extinctions within a

generation. No silence, no sirens — an unflustered inflection, then

stock markets, cryptic as Latin mass. I force myself: the interval

between a mother and her child — not enough for refuge in numerics,

reckoning we’ll be old or gone. Her in my rear-view mirror when I skew

it. Undoing velcro:  velours crochet — the maker plucked burrs from

his sweater, studied them under a microscope. There’s a microscope

I inherited, embedded in a fake snakeskin case. Ravaged scales,

FLOOD

The hallway is an empty

riverbed, smooth and barren.

At three o’clock classroom

 

doors open like dams.

            Gullies of teens stream

out, to become one

           flowing body. A torrent

of fauxhawks and ponytails

           channels along the linoleum.

 

           The drowned boy floats along

 

just below the surface,

           caught in an undercurrent,

bobbing past the

 

           sightless stares of teachers.

 

A Hundred and Fifty Pounds

In some, the luggage lies open

like a mouth mid-sentence.

In others, closed zippers grimace:

 

What would you have brought?

Slippers, a stuffed platypus, a gold watch

on a chain, copper pots swaddled in bedding.

 

The hypotheses: that thinking

can be things, that each decision shrinks

the pained mind to the space

 

inside a suitcase. Include

lacquered chopsticks, silver forks,

a hammer scarred by rust, the orders

 

nailed to telephone poles and doors.

The New School

Do you remember, Nancy,

when we sat in the Creole restaurant

and glanced up at the television to see students running

with their hands in the air and photographs

of two young men?

Their angular faces. Trench coats.

We didn’t understand what was happening,

our brains felt like mush, it wasn’t the wine,

it was like being in a foreign country,

on the street corner, at a hospital,

struggling to understand or be heard.

 

This morning, on the way to work,

My sister cries the sea

My sister is crying and crying

her tears grow to salt stormy showers

to rain and to rapids and rivers

they run to the sea to the sea.

 

My sister sobs softly she knows

she listens at shells and the shoals

she hears from fish sleeping at nightfall

she gathers from mushrooms and moulds.

 

Hears walking fish clear at Mayaro

black eyes popping out of their heads:

“The wind it gone out of the water

the sea things is tarred to their beds.”

 

memories of my youth

as children

we learned to stand on one leg

clasping bundles of hope between our teeth

 

not because we wanted

to resemble flocks of black flamingos

 

one foot in the smelly pile was better than two

 

the sky beckoned

its blue hues a promise

we carried in those little bundles

clamped tightly between our still forming teeth

 

some of us were trapped

unable to free the one foot-fall for lift-off

 

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