Transformation

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,

Happy Birthday Moon

Dad reads aloud. I follow his finger across the page.

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

He makes the Moon say something new every night

to his deaf son who slurs his speech.

 

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it,

his deaf son who slurs his speech.

Dad taps the page, says, try again.

 

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it.

Windrim

To Windrim or sycamore

           rustle cicada or bark and to Wayne

           to rustle and psoas and psoas to Belmont and Germantown hills

hills as to nearer Plateau as to Central and whisper wall Indian

summer to sleeves or the sleeveless groin as to forward

and dog shit and Cliveden to Wieland the whispering creek

as to Windrim

or mounting as Chestnut to backslid

the Juniper Schuylkill

           to boulder the pound to clover mite

vernal or rake as to tendon

exhaust of to Windrim and spare Wissahickon

Let Us Be Fireflies

Let Us Be Fireflies

                          All day we

     practice morse code signals

                                telegraphing ghosts

                                                    of intent.

 

                                 Between us

                                               unsayable things

         heavy as bone.

                               For any hope of plain

                 speech we must do away

                                  with skin suit propriety &

 

confirmation bias

at least in our waking life

most commemoration

doubles as force

 

since even

the most benign

zodiacal conceptions

are tinged eurocentric

 

when brown women die

who is specifically responsible

for the eroticization

of our deaths?

 

this is not a walking

meditation

 

not an endorsement

of escape

survivalism

or even

getting to the source

 

with eyes closed

involve yourself

with the idea

 

remember

Tinderbox

We were a conflagration asking

to be incarnated into the world.

Mother, superstitious, kept us

apart, two stones of the same

igneous anger.

 

Everyone saucered tears

like firetrucks before a plane crash,

as if preparing, should we combust.

Mother had once hidden

all the nooses, knocking

all hanging hooks from our ceiling,

the other family hid the tinder and wood,

crying flame-retardant

for the walls.

 

Your palm prints have returned

as shingles around my left eye.

After Betty Goodwin's The Memory of the Body (1993)

As Whitman sang the body electric

Goodwin sings the body forested:

dense stand of dark-trunked saplings

illumined by a blood-streaked sky,

ominous forest where

abandoned children wander

vulnerable to the spell of wolves,

stepmothers and jealous queens—

omnivorous forest, perilous to enter.

 

I mean the body unseen,

the body beneath the skin

where invisible infrastructure

thrums as it surges and sluices

through murky runnels and canals, networks

Start here: