Thursday, April 29, 2010

30.30 vision~ after Angus Adair's 21 & 25

(opening line, a cheat, from my own #24, inspired by my friend angus's poem about "not getting over things fast enough," (his #25 & pt. 1 on his #21 ) in crude summation)

to say i still miss
is just to say i will always

that's what forever is

what was once present
leaves a human shape
i can close my eyes
play a song

i live as a fish
swimming in one direction
as a cat with a correct way to be touched

this is how we live
suffering the pasts
haunting us from other directions

my heart knows dates on calendars
last time seens
the day the news came
how it sank in slowly steaping
the arrivals and the breaks
the intersections and the ruptures
deaths declared
the phase of the moon at burial

i couldn't forget if i tried
heavy as a cedar chest

sometimes there is no getting over
only through
a navigation of shark jaws
cling to the anecdotes
the tiny turn of mouth
a story about corn in rumble seats
the feel of park wood on spine with head between thighs
nervous tics
these are what will remain in slow motion
in slumber
and the comfort of dreams

i can hardly believe i ever knew
i can never believe how time is cut
by cleavers of watch arms

"you know what i am jealous of?
i am jealous of those of you who knew ____
longer, better"
says the man across a table
and my heart echos that pang
greedy green monster that it is, i know
no marathon is as kudzu

i resent the lamp, the books
the ink, the ashtray
the blanket holding scent
the owl's impenetrable stare
hardness of objects existing
without the hands of owner
the scraps to witness my sorrow

i want to break everything

doesn't end
for some of us
a muscle memory of arms

my ribcage is a wind chime of lockets
my skin the shrink wrap to hold feelings too big
from leaking out all over the sidewalk
the cutting board
the kitchen

my mermaids, angels, tricksters
selkies, crones, vixens
wolves and tree limbs
my sweet ghosts of gone
i am failure
i will never live up
to your shadows
i can only rattle with you
in my breath

Walpurgis Nacht

is almost here. Walpurgis Nacht is a pagan tradition of "burning out the winter ghosts" to welcome rebirth, harvest, abundance & the coming spoils of spring into summer.

With this, a poem about elements and SHARKS, from!

Sharks in the Rivers
by Ada Limón

We'll say unbelievable things
to each other in the early morning—

our blue coming up from our roots,
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs.

All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles
and ghosts of men, and spirits
behind those birds of flame.

I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes,
I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through.

It is a short walkway—
into another bedroom.

Consider the handle. Consider the key.

I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks.

How I thought I saw them in the creek
across from my street.

I once watched for them, holding a bundle
of rattlesnake grass in my hand,
shaking like a weak-leaf girl.

She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says,

Sharks bite fewer people each year than
New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records.

Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks.

Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying,

Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.

I write all the things I need on the bottom
of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together.

The sun behind me is like a fire.
Tiny flames in the river's ripples.

I say something to God, but he's not a living thing,
so I say it to the river, I say,

I want to walk through this doorway
But without all those ghosts on the edge,
I want them to stay here.
I want them to go on without me.

I want them to burn in the water.

28/30 "Lake Doris to Gus Wood" by Gus Wood

I suppose the moonlit North Carolina nights
made me your romantic,
tempted you to call me your lover in poems,
tempted you to call our time spent together
a kind of intimacy,
and I am just the sort of sweet smelling bull frog
symphony to let you.

We were only together for summer times,
and even then our trysts seemed
ended all too soon by the beep of a watch,
the bugle announcing the girls' turn
to distract us.
You began clumsy,
pillaging the still calm of my waters
with the ugly slap-smack of a canoe paddle.

Silly summer-camp child,
you tried to touch me inexperienced.
You tried to navigate every nuance
of my body with awkward unlearned strokes,
I waited for you to grow up.

And you did,
Your arms became strong and skilled.
Still in your canoe, the blunt broad tool
finally granted you grace,
transformed all of your body
into pure touch.
Your biceps transfigured
into the pink muscle of throat,
your hands molded into a lover's lips,
and your paddle,
became your tongue tracing across
my body.

I still ripple echoes of this compassion even now.

But even this touch, this bliss,
was foreplay.
A waiting game until you found yourself
at home in a small-ish plastic kayak
at the edge of the dock.
Nervous, cold, and short of breath,
you plunged, deep.

The water struck your face, untender.
I finally had to teach you the lesson
of a water's womb.
Ingrain, into your shut tight eyes,
the skewed perception of a kayak,
of my embrace.
I had to teach you to survive
when your instincts are flawed.

Tethered to your vessel,
you fell.
You capsized into me, breathless.
Upside down,
you must not gasp,
thrash, claw for something
you are certain will save you.

This sort of action spells death.
My child, in my loose grasp you learned
to stay calm, bubble ration your breath,
hear the slow echo drum of the depths
as Gospel.
With my kiss at your lips,
your right became left,
your up became down,
you learned roughly to ascend.

You learned to right yourself,
with an armor forged of opposites,
of focus, of the lessons taught to you
by others just as in love with me as you were,
are, and ever will be.

Use your paddle,
set your leverage,
thrust your hips,
strike the water.

You emerged from the dark wet,
like a new born.
Water burning your nose,
and your old instincts sinking
to the bottom.

26/30 "The Dead Sea Knows Its Name" by Gus Wood

Catch your rippled reflection in a glass,
in a gourd, in an adversary's skull.
Watch your face dissipate into sunshine,
tilt the vessel back,
drink the water.

Feel the echoes of a thousand year strife,
feel them ransack your throat.
Feel the salt strip away your voice
until it's all blood, all gnarled raw,
until it's rubble and all you can dare do
is spit up your madness,
and choke.

This is my blood, your water,
my outraged waves cresting to splinter
the West Bank.
This is my name made all too palpable.
This is your Dead Sea.

This is the elements putting on a parody
of its people.
My hands are stigmata'd with shrapnel,
my sides split by sniper fire,
my deep blue tattooed with the endless
rat-tat-tat-tat of an AK-47's signature
riddled into the mud of my womb.

There can be no life in my waters.
Your legacy was left churning
into hemlock stink waters.
I am inhospitable even to the unnatural
architecture of fish, algae.
The salt in my spit will shred the insides
of such life into razor-bladed scraps
of paper, into pink ribbons too rung
out to cradle anything but old animosity.

I am caked with your routines,
the constant summer sun blackens my tides.
My water knits into jagged teeth,
smashing into the shore,
stabbing it like chunks of molten metal,
like shrapnel.
I suicide bomb with each sand-scattering wave,
trying to convince you,
trying to share my religion.

I am begging you to see my cliffs,
crusted with salt so coarse
it could stay there forever.
like the way your wars threaten to be.

I cannot hold anyone close enough
to sustain life.
The water too dense to bring you to my muck,
to my jagged diamond-cut womb.
Everything floats, I will not hide your dead.
My waters are ancient balm
to make mummies of kings who saw themselves
equal with the sun.

No fish swim my waters.
I am all chew, all blender,
all gnarled mouth and rock salt,
You West Bank bloodthirsty dirt-children,
the ones locked in war,
I beg you.
Stop trying to match my waters' mercy,
trying to churn your red-stained sand
into my salt waves.

Stop trying to ascend like the flesh
floating to my surface.
You're all drunk off my stinging salt-song,
off my stabbing pain in your throats.
Stop washing in my waters,
I will purify nothing.

I am your Dead Sea.

You are my dying people,
pouring my gnarled salt,
on your open wounds.

25/30 "Lake Erie Laments Its Fate" by Gus Wood

Everybody loves a good fire,
something impossible to drop a jaw
while you're watching.
I was only trying to show you
a miracle.
It was not an invitation
to change me.

As your constant companion,
I sought your friendship.
I giggled as you gutted me,
filled my shores with cold
unfeeling concrete,
making me an industry.
I loved each and every ounce
of your filth.
It brought us closer.

I turned my riverbeds into a shrine,
an altar to praise your broken cities.
Industries boomed and faded to shade
in the reflection of my choking black waters.
True love is never healthy when you mean it,
So pollute me.

Fill me with the discarded scraps
of your human experience like you
once so eagerly did.
Mound me with your refuse,
I could never refuse you my muck,
So pollute me.
Dump your communion wafer waste,
your sins,
choke me with fetid bliss and I will once again
announce my love to you.

I will burn bright for my lovers,
for Cleveland.
I will burn all orange against the black of night
and my rotting waters.
This was not a tragedy.
Every dead fish, every burnt scrap of something,
was an offering to you,
my cities.

Self-destructive, infatuated,
with the faded portraits
of your America.
I set myself alight in that 1969
moment in time just to pay back
all the love you've given me.
Just to pay it back,
in kind.

But you claimed to know me.
You dragged my shrine until it shined,
wiped of all the gifts you offered me.
You made me a home for fish,
for ugly scaled intruders,
that waltz into our love story.
They have no business touching me,
defiling the bed I've laid out for every body
you dump in me.

Give me a corpse to kiss,
to hold.
Give me garbage,
some rotting memento
to press into my muddy bottom.
Do not leave me alone.

Nature has no business here,
in between us.
Turn my waters to bubbling swirls
or smothering black.
Set me ablaze again.
Set your rusting car skeletons
to disintegrate on my tongue.
Your industries, history, and sins
all rotting in my arms.

Let's suicide pact and never let go.
Let's become a romance for the ages,
the best ones all end in tragedy.

I have always loved you,
like a fire.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

29.30 AZ

old dirt
red clay

cave dwellers
and geology
own this more
than pale men

the way this landscape
was purchased
(poached, like ancient seguaro)
from the very same hands
it now expels

welcome to hell on earth
infernal hundreds plus degrees
is defined here
brutal earth
the dry tongue of miles
parched as bone

rumor has it people drown
with what begins as a trickle
becoming liquid again
in sudden flood
but the fire of the sun
licks the rock here

this is a scorched earth
with its own policies
the man made razor wires
fences spooled braces
(unlike anything along
our creamier neighbors to the north)
no match for the pincushions
the needles of cactus
this is Hades, ready made

whatever pissing contest
plays out here
will eventually succumb to lava
mama earth
will drink it in
not even a droplet
on the fingernail of her time

28.30 after angus, pt. 1

Ever skin a fish?
Snag scales underneath fingernails?
it feels wrong
wrong as rubbing a clawed cat backwards
but once naked
they leave a silvery slush
a justice of glitter

I remember the cat claw
of feeling scales underneath nail
a lack of justice
wrongly naked
leaving a glittery skin
a rubbing backwards
of my heart into silver slush.