11 July 2009


He remembers
he thinks again
of a night filled with sighs
though not his own

her sighs have filled him
enough to remain filled
though not quite enough
to last until there are sighs again

he has heard
and is hearing a sigh
as it falls through silk toward him

through silk it falls
past silk it is caught
and in the catching is the filling
and in the catching is the remembering
and in the remembering
is the sigh again

stretching into the memory of a sigh remembered
there is silk
and there is the sweet exhalation called a sigh
and that is enough
to make a memory

there is a memory
and there is breath
and there is an empty place
where a sigh would be
and he can catch that empty place
and fill it with his own
his own empty place
his own sigh

(published in El Nopal, University of New Mexico, 1991)

10 July 2009

A Kind of Photograph That's Hard to See

this room smells of cancer
and I see loose crazy cells
there in the corners by the window.

thin branches tap the glass here
and I can see the pruning shears
on the workbench in the garage, waiting.

knots of phelgm-soaked tissue
demand the kind of attention that won't come
from me, a guy now wistful.

I miss you already.

09 July 2009

Picking Melons by Moonlight

Picking melons by moonlight
It seemed like a good idea at the time
Green fruit glowing in moon-blackened leaves
They call them honeydew

Giving the baby a bath in the sink
The odor of Ivory Soap
Moonbeaming baby in the sink
Water droplets shifting in the air

She opened her mouth and
Let the moon pour down her throat
Until she was full
Until she illuminated herself

08 July 2009

Untitled Portrait: revised view

Right-handed right now and right-legged, it shows in the crosses she describes,
a ragged gesture pushed through her close hair, potential knots long fallen away
and the whitened part between thumb's knuckles
against a coiling wire

Lips bitten slow
hollow pressures shaped like pain

Light cracks against this morning's bakery's windows
and there is always yeast,
the delta of condensation rising over the sinks
and the way she passes the back of her arm across the plane of her hairline
This won't last

This is by no means this moment, any moment,
so you hurry up and
turn up the radio and
go home and
quit your job and
get another job
move someplace else
do something different
That's what really happens all the time

07 July 2009

Girl At A Window Cleaning Squid

(for amjp)

one hundred, one thousand,
they slip blue grey pearlescent
through her fingers
quick practiced fingers
still baby fat but flying a knife
through squid bodies
endless buckets of dead squid

and the light,
if indeed there were light,
might seem to bend itself toward her hands
and they shine, they glisten
her hands
and the knife
and the bodies of squid

06 July 2009

Dog Dreams

(after kathleen spivack)

When I dream I am a dog,
I’m not thinking in the dream.
I’m not thinking,
“I’m dreaming I’m a dog”
“I think I am a dog”
“so this is what it’s like to be a dog.”
I think
“I am a dog”
and I think it like a dog would think it
which is to say without thought at all.

05 July 2009

Untitled Poem About Three Traditions

A Chinese feast begins with candy and Spam,
processed, potted meat food and jellied meat paste all
carved up and shaped into elaborate lucky goldfishes or
a tableaux of Quan Yin, the elaborate Goddess of Mercy, or
elaborate battles between Tripmaster Monkey and
elaborate sculpted turnip demons.
No one can remember how or when a Chinese feast ends,
exactly which of the of dishes was the last or
when we stopped eating from them.

Back in America and
up in the mountains near where I grew up,
the first time a boy went to prison
they would have a funeral and
bury a casket in a grave until that
boy came home again released or paroled or best of all escaped,
and he’d return tattooed and maybe still a man or
maybe a broken man or maybe a punk
and his family would dig the casket back up and burn it and
they’d have a new birthday party for
whatever kind of man had returned and
they’d all drink beer and eat cake,
maybe cake from the Piggly Wiggly
or maybe homemade.

Out on the flatlands beyond that first line of cliffs
the horses still graze free almost the whole year
until we ride other horses out there to bring them all back
closer to home and on those autumn mornings
we have twenty-five or thirty horses running along the
now-dry river through the gray and yellow and brown of whatever grows there along whatever water flows there and they steam, the horses, all of them, a flood, a flash flood of horses,
their chuffing breath and their hides
rising steam in the air at the end of the season,
at the end of our year.

Quan Yin

(another version of this poem appeared in Lunarosity, October, 2003)