Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Winter Can't Keep Anything Straight

I don’t remember getting potty trained but
I know the winter’s haven’t gotten any
better since. It is a terrible season
to risk romantic relationships, a time
spent wanting warmth without confusion: a build
up then release: to hold onto something that
doesn’t make me feel ashamed. I’ve spent winters
with women so I don’t have to sleep alone
and been with ones who have used me for the same

There is this isopod that eats the tongues of
fish. It begin with the outer lips, tears them
off then burrows its body inside the mouth,
using its teeth to make room for itself.
The isopods grows there, in the roof of the mouth;
the fish doesn’t notice, swimming all the while.

I kissed a boy once just to prove it could be
done. His chin is what I touched the most so we
made out a couple more times until I could
taste the oaks in his hometown and tell if he
was an only child (he wasn’t). Someday I’d
like to climb to the bottom of a well and
see what is so important that even shadows
try to keep its existence hidden. Maybe
it’s not tangible. Maybe it’s the quote there,

hanging, about how the recipient of
a poem is unable to appreciate
what the poet meant to write so, when I slept
with that ex it was because I did not want
to be left behind. Everybody is some-
body’s former body, the circumstance is
not what matters: it’s about discovering
the potential in the worst possible lay.

The Highway from Heliopolis

It rose in the distance like a
stillbirth —or at least the color of one—
as the amphetamines drove me
from the town I grew old in.

My father bought a jeep
when I was young. It was the
sky after a storm blew through
Eastern Colorado, without the
stink of shit and evangelists

Well that, and the Firebird
(his real baby, sexless as it was
with black leather interior that
still smells of the first time
I fucked) rode like wild
roans. He’d advise me not
to wear seat belts in either.
The stares were longer,
he told me the women liked
it better that way.

We’d go to car shows
and look at the engines
like they were porno
magazines and when we’d
pull into the garage, he’d
show me how to polish
the Firebird’s seats.
Absent mindedly,
I’d finger the pouch
of weathered leaves
—the one with some Indian
name— he’d forget in the glove
box and wonder why he’d keep
them hidden from mom under
a stack of crumbling eight
tracks. I had an imagination
then: I’d show friends
the baton that rested
idly on the driver’s side.
My dad’s a cop I’d say
an he beats robbers to
keep them from stealing.

Then they’d talk about
being adults —growing
old, a girl on their arm,
having children— and
get driven home by one
to be put to bed.

I pull off the interstate
—an exit with some Indian
name— to do a rail off
the portable tape player:
these cars from the late
seventies were built well
enough but an eight track
only lasts for a couple
decades. I wonder if it
is as late as it seems
then pull back onto
the highway to see
it there, setting. It
dangles —as if
connected to a
cosmic thread—
waiting for Time’s
nurse to sever its
weight and
throw it



Here, the buildings are splayed like jack-o‘-lanterns:
the big grin of windows separated by stone
and metal, illuminated by a lamp that may
be overhead or may be in another room.
Orange, yeah. They’re orange inside the
eyes, the mouth, the nose. The outside is
black against gray overcast. It could rain.
It has been and it could again. I do not
watch the sunrise when it has yet to happen.

The first time it started we were both eighteen:
I promised you would start to feel everything.
I want to fuck the trees so you went west
to Washington whose evergreens I have seen.
I was drawn to a pile of leaves last week and
your hair was in it, whispering –like the
filament of a light bulb that is about to go out.

Incendiary Balloons are dangerous.
The Japanese sent them over the Pacific.
They landed in some remote areas of
Oregon and California. They killed a
few children who tampered with their
release mechanisms. The Americans,
at that time, were developing another
kind of weapon that they would also
send over the pacific in a different kind
of balloon. That too would explode.
It took me a twenty-five hundred mile
plane ride and thirteen hours on a train
to learn that the Japanese attacked
America on four separate occasions
between December 7th 1941 and July
11th 1945. I was not surprised: some-
times knowledge takes time.

The moon held a twilight sad. Is that
a line from another poet because the
moon held with it a twilight sad, an
arrow and bowl of tulips. It sighed
What use are things to a form in
orbit? Circles in squares –a massing
of objects– on top of another.
– a body on top of another– in orbit;
Love? Letters. Asparagus. Today
I will take out a life insurance policy.

A friend tells me I should settle down
with a nice woman who is ignorant to
things that keep me preoccupied. What?
Am I supposed to talk to keep her mind
at ease at night? I don’t say this. I lie.
I agree. I listen to her breathe. I want
to be loved like the pediment of a temple
front: ordered around and sat on like a
stylobate. This is a mouth that is much
prettier when clenched tight, kept quiet.

It is nice to be ignorant of language:
in not understanding one is left to listen.