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I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
scurried around a classroom papered with poems.
Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase...
they introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage
to read their work, blessed their teacher who
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you —
What struck me first was the sheer numbers, queers everywhere.
Battalions of sailors and infantry, proud in their uniforms.
Eventually, I made uneasy peace with this equal right.
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
Winter has landed; my boot bucks on a stone
surrounded by snow; I swear, I murmur
Oracabessa. “The rock” is what I call home,
all islanders do, and I’m in blessed Ann Arbour,
The night America took off her mask
we slept together poorly. I'd woken up early
that Tuesday, dragged myself to a gymnasium
in Jersey City to cast my vote into the void.
The bodies are on the beach
And the bodies keep breaking
And the fight is over
But the bodies aren't dead
And the mayor keeps saying I will bring back the bodies
When Daniel Harris stepped out of his car
the policeman was waiting. Gun raised.
I use the past tense though this is irrelevant
in Daniel's language, which is sign.
You can't be an NDN person in today's world
and write a nature poem. I swore to myself I would never write a nature
poem. Let's be clear, I hate nature — hate its guts
big ghosts contra
band my diction war
korea's north sees red as
america flags china's chopped limb
british crowns hong kong
cut for duplicity more capitalist than capitalist
the spirit of
your flowers is
my favourite shelter
we were in love is
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
I come from the land of
Where You From?
My people dispossessed of their stories
and who have died again and again
in a minstrelsy of afterlives, wakes,
the dead who walk, waiting and
it’s rank it cranks you up
crash you’re fracked you suck
shucks you’re wack you be
all you cracked up to be
dead on arrival
overdosed on whatever
excess of hate and love
He sat cross-legged, weeping on the steps
when Mom unlocked and opened the front door.
O God, he said. O God.
He wants to kill me, Mom.
To be a good
ex/current friend for R. To be one last
inspired way to get back at R. To be relationship
advice for L. To be advice
for my mother. To be a more comfortable
bear with me it wasn’t long ago I was brainless
lazily pulling fireflies into my teeth chewing them
into pure light so much of me then was nothing
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
What I adore is not horses, with their modern
domestic life span of 25 years. What I adore
is a bug that lives only one day, especially if
it’s a terrible day, a day of train derailment or
A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
A work of art is a world of signs, at least to the poet’s
nursery bookshelf sheltered behind the artist’s ear.
I recall each little motto howling its ins and outs
to those of us who might as well be on the moon
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which…
We are losing the intensive care unit waiting room war
We were doing so well
So well we got sleepy
So sleepy the institution returned
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Whereas my eyes land on the shoreline of “the arrival of Europeans in North America
opened a new chapter in the history of Native Peoples.” Because in others, I hate the act
Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Blousy guitar I don’t want to count the beats Hey Hey
My pen I have bed hair in the best way Daughter
of sunlight and air and I’m glad you were born
on this day or put another way: that you were
In my dream my mother comes with me.
We are in the meadows we call
The Flats, walking the dogs.
Walk straight past the water trough,
she says, do not engage the moss.
There’s a joke that ends with — huh?
It’s the bomb saying here is your father.
Now here is your father inside
your lungs. Look how lighter
the earth is — afterward.
Both guitars run trebly. One noodles
Over a groove. The other slushes chords.
Then they switch. It’s quite an earnest affair.
Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk-
Praise the hurt, the house slack
An ars poetica
I remember the death, in Russia,
of postage stamps
Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.
As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
You ran naked out the door.
The neighbours laughed; I chased you down.
I hardly see you anymore.
We can never be with loss too long.
Behind the warped door that sticks,
the wood thrush calls to the monks,
The rain this morning pours from the gutters and
everywhere else it is lost in the trees. You need your
glasses to single out what you know is there because
Where is the word I want?
in the thicket,
yesterday at the Oakland zoo
I was walking alone for a moment
past the enclosure holding the sun bear
GOODLOOKING BOY wasn’t he / yes/ blond /
yes / I do vaguely
/ you never liked
Sure, there’s a spell the leaves can make, shuddering,
and in their lying suddenly still again — flat, and still,
like time itself when it seems unexpectedly more
Very loud a mad frenzy The wooden
barrel she rode would have roared
(I first wrote “road”)
— so we said to the somewhat: Be born —
& the shadow kept arriving in segments,
cold currents pushed minerals
Newfoundland is, or was, full of interesting people.
Like Larry, who would make a fool of himself on street corners
for a nickel. There…
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one