Melancholic

Alone

I never thought Michiko would come back

after she died. But if she did, I knew

it would be as a lady in a long white dress.

It is strange that she has returned

as somebody's dalmatian. I meet

the man walking her on a leash

almost every week. He says good morning

and I stoop down to calm her. He said

once that she was never like that with

other people. Sometimes she is tethered

on their lawn when I go by. If nobody

is around, I sit on the grass. When she

January 1, Dawn

After the celebrations,

people, TV channels, telephones,

the year’s recently-corrected digit

finally falls asleep.

 

Between the final night and the first dawn

a jagged piece of sky

as if viewed from the open mouth of a whale.

Inside her belly and inside the belly of time,

there’s no point worrying.

You glide gently along. She knows her course.

Inside her, you are digested slowly, painlessly. 

 

And if you’re lucky, like Jonah,

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

You knock on the door

You knock on the door but nobody answers. Cupping your hands around your face you peer through the side-panel of frosted glass. A kettle is whistling, a woman singing as she sets the table. This is a familiar house. You knock again. Inside, the sounds are festive. Glasses clink and a band starts up. Pressing your ear to the door, you hear the sound of your own laughter. This is the house you grew up in. You're sure of it now.

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?

 

A Thin Plea

(Falteringly)

 

Our national bird ­– for years – was – as A M Klein said –

the rocking chair

 

I don’t know what our national bird is now – but my totem bird is

the killdeer

 

Its names – odd mannerisms – & cry – explain bits about me – in

riddles

 

My daily writing self at 57 has accrued the usual odd habits &

noises – there are awful names I know myself by – lie-dances I

perform

 

Weed Killer

Our mother gave us a sack of weed killer

the size of a toddler, and told us

to spread it on the front lawn.

 

My sister and I lugged it there.

A light cloud of white powder

drifted up to our nostrils

and down to our tongues, blooming sour

wherever it touched membrane.

We scooped the stuff out with teenaged zeal

as we dusted the lawn, checkerboard lines

mounded where the grass was thin.

 

We thought we were done,

but there was still half a sack left.

Start here: