29 August 2009

Recognizable Food Groups

She can make a wish by moving

the clasp of her chain to

the nape of her neck.

It's a thing girls can do;

they teach it to each other.

From below and off to her left,

I spend most of the second half

with my neck all twisted around and

watching her watch the game.

It might be acrylic but her sweater is certainly blue

and a ragged flash of 14k electro-plate

suits it pretty well, I think.

Meteors, cars with one headlight,

heart-shots, and money

are the kinds of things

boys wish on when they wish they had girls;

we figure it out for ourselves.

In line at the snack-bar buying Bomber Dogs

I saw some kind of large, black bird fly through the lights

on its way back into wilderness

and in its mouth it carried a loop of dime store gold.

I made a wish;

I made a really big wish.

28 August 2009

Smoke From a Japanese Cigarette (Silk Cut)

curls backward to this boy's mouth

against the current of typhoon.

No way will any divine wind change

the way these blossoms


in flame

again and again

and then stop falling.

(Originally published in Wild Dog Nights, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1993)

27 August 2009


She removed all the shades
and placed all the lamps on the floor
and it changed the room.

Shadows rose instead of fell
and our faces looked startled and alert
even though we weren't.

When she took off her shirt
the outline of her nipples spread across her collar bones,
became lines to follow to her mouth,
opened then and illuminated in a new and interesting way.

(Originally published in Basura, Boulder, CO, 11 October 93)

26 August 2009

Tabula Rasa

After the accident, she had almost total amnesia. The doctors were conciliatory and vague, sending her home with a calendar full of therapy appointments and best wishes on reconstructing her life.

She stood in front of her open closet door looking at the clothes she'd been told were hers. Some still had tags. All were revealing, sexy, even sluttish. Her drawers were filled with strange underwears. She tried to imagine a self of hers, a self she might have been, that would feel comfortable with all these clothes' complicated straps, suggestions, contours, and strange pressures. Her husband assured her these were what she'd always worn and urged her to use them again, to try and get her memory started up again. She would, instead, wear the plainest robe she’d been able to find in that closet; she’d wear it all day before she could manage to costume herself in hose and heels, push-up bra and low-cut mini-dress.

If she balked or stiffened when in bed, if his sexual behavior seemed assaultive, her husband assured her that it was what she'd always loved, had craved, had begged for before the accident. Their sex life then had, apparently, been filled with postures and accessories she had difficulty now imagining or imagining as pleasure.

She felt a need for essentials, for elemental experience, rather than for variations upon themes in which she still felt unschooled. She felt virginal and, despite the various proddings and manipulations performed in her marital bed, she still felt that virginal aspect untouched, unassailed as yet, by anything he’d yet down to her.

She began to suspect her husband's veracity and his motives, began to question his version of her past and her past behavior and her personality.

25 August 2009

What He Remembered of that Day

was, of course, completely different than her version.

An outsider would imagine their argument was over these details

and be wrong.

When it began to rain

she raised herself on her hands and knees

and reached across the discarded knot of their discarded clothing

and her eyes rolled back into her skull.

Her hair darkened and began to flatten as it became wet.

Water began to collect on her skin

and she moaned with a new passion that frightened him

when the lightening began to hammer so closely around them.

She says it was nothing like that at all.

(Originally published in Huevos, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1987)

24 August 2009

Shan Hai Hua Jiewen*

(24 September 1958 - 13 July 1995)

How can it be a glass half full or a
glass half empty when it
isn't even a glass anymore?
We can never sweep all these slivers away
and, years from now,
one shard will work itself into a naked heel
and that wound will echo
the sound of a vessel shattered.

If we can imagine Oak Creek Canyon
as an island north of Cuba,
then the dolphins among
the fruit trees of this orchard
are no more astounding
than blood and tendon traced beneath
the skin grown tight around a wrist.

There are holes in our hearts
the shape and size
of those whom we have lost
and we patch them
with what is left of each other.

Each movement,
north or south, back or forth,
reveals nothing so much
as where we've been.

What we leave behind
is what we also walk toward:
scraps of paper shaped like ourselves.

Twice glimpsed through autumn foliage
and once through thickening glass,

we are waving to each other.

*Literally: Mountain Ocean Flower Kiss, though more accurately translated as the notion of "monumental opposites blossoming toward union"

23 August 2009

Off-White Noise; Actually, More of a Bone-White Noise or Ecru

It, the speedometer, says ninety miles an hour but
it must be lying because things aren't moving at all.
From where I sit,
things couldn't possibly be moving.

Off center, as other things move faster, they compress,
they contract around themselves and
all appearances become skewed, off-kilter,
and what is not moving is stretched-out, expanded,
and takes up more room than it actually needs.
Or is it the other way around?

What I see when I look through the glass at the front of the car
are the things that look like the people I used to see but distorted.
I point at them, I wave, but whatever they have become
doesn't seem to recognize me.
I guess they see something else. And
I wonder what it might be? Perhaps
a shooting star, a what-do-you-call-it, a meteor?
A piece of burning something unrecognizable in a cocoon of flame?

Now it, the speedometer, says one hundred and ten but
things are still the same.
What is going on here? I ask myself
but it is an echo of something I'd heard before,
a sound I’d just caught up to hearing.
I wonder when this will stop? I ask myself,
long after it already has.