Posts Tagged ‘hightouchmegastore’


Someone’s shadow traces its fingers across the blinds
makes cups of tea and leaves them half drunk in the sink

takes the letters from the box and reads them
at another location    leaves only the grocery circulars

and advertisements for gun shows     someone else
discards a pair of red shoes on the floor by the chair

to stumble over in the dark    someone bins the little
rind of cheese    the packet of bacon   the half shallot

wears the pink sweater I could not lay hands on
reads the yellow cloth covered book whose title I

cannot remember    and after I’ve turned off the television
and then the light    put my nightgown at the foot of the bed

there   taking the middle   immovable   the someone
else who steals my words    dreams my thoughts

considers my dreams

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two tanka

the red rose leaves break
unfold their delicate veined
hands    fan a straight flush
aces high   high flung branches
thorny deadpan poker face

genus tulipa
at night folds its arms up tight
not at all prim   just
cold   like waiting for a light
to change   in late April snow

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what we bought

My love went to the store and brought back Pop Tarts: irresistible,
especially when things seem anxious or off or especially collapsible.

Two boxes, eight silver packets with two Pop Tarts in each:
since I was a child, I could never resist such a tidy comestible,

white icing, rainbow crystals, jam getting hot in the toaster.
I could be disciplined, but I eat them by the fists full.

I just bought a coat and a purse on eBay–not just pastries, then,
I crave: linen and leather and jam are equally fungible.

I’d be better off on a long walk, a prophylactic to stave
off the dread, the nerves, moods so predictably lapsable;

or asleep, where whatever disquiet can be metaphorical:
I’ll dream of colored sugar, of icing, Pop Tarts delivered by dirigible.

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Aloud, I was remembering that yard, square
on the corner, how in the spring the rhubarb
sprang and in the same bed, weedy asparagus.
The volunteer peach tree. The garden
I planted, teeming with squash beetles
yet still I had some of everything I planted,

and for a summer, one summer, it was
nothing but those yellow roses that grew
in wild arcing canes, covered with flowers,
and a red rose, too, that grew, I kid you not,
at the front porch. Sleeping with nothing
but the screen door, it was so hot. Parties

with friends and laughing and butter cake.
It was an awful house, and I was so, so happy
then, I said, and believed it for just one second,
I was so happy to remember how happy I
had been, the baby in her striped shirts,
the walks we took around the block, the girls

from across the street coming over to play,
me picking tomatoes from the vine, and then
I also remembered the dark months that came
not long after that—same terrible house,
same heat but the next summer, and also
before that a cold winter when the air

was so grey I could barely see across the street.
I wanted to keep believing in that happiness,
the baby in her diaper standing under
the elm tree at the gate, me sitting on the porch
watching her, as if the still afternoon hour
had nothing to do but shimmer, as if I

had nothing to do but let the concrete’s
deep cool seep into the backs of my thighs.
As if the fruit on the vine had nothing to do
but fatten, the grass nothing but to tickle
the baby’s feet. And why should the fact
that I never learned how to make rhubarb

in any form I could stand, or the fact
that the yellow roses bloomed, rank and
florid, or that after the flowers withered,
there was nothing left but thorns: why should
these facts so absolutely abolish that summer,
its garden, the elm, the baby in its leafy shade?

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I remember the record he bought me
for my seventeenth birthday: Spirit,
The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.
This was the boyfriend, you may remember,
who built me a dulcimer with little
heart cutouts. Who went with me
to the beach, to kiss and nothing more.
Even then, I felt myself rolled in the waves
of what this one wanted of me, what
that one wanted. He asked me after

awhile what was my favorite song and I
picked the one, the very shortest song,
the one least vinegary, the one least sharp.
I wasn’t trying to be difficult. It was
my true favorite, just like the other
brief codas on other albums, envois,
with their scent of melancholy and
a mascara of regret. Disappointed, he pointed
to Nature’s Way, a keeper of a slow burn

hit. Or what about Mr. Skin? he asked.
No thank you, I was already too nervous.
The bit of the record that comes back to me—
I’m thinking of it again for no reason
I can put name—is the percussive
bass of looking at my body, I’m slipping
down. The riffs of past music, excised
and on a passionate repeat, never
leaves you. I’d like to give Dr. Sardonicus
back, like to have the playlist I’ve edited

to include just the songs I learned to drone
on the dulcimer’s four strings, that short set
of R&B, and all, all of the Beach Boys,
playing retrospectively even then. The way
certain Led Zeppelin still takes me to those
kids smoking by the flag pole, though
that can’t be right. Those kids toking
out on the field, coming back to class
terribly amused, their eyes red.
He wanted me to hear what he heard.

I still don’t know what that was. I know
the hours I lay awake listening to The Concert
For Bangladesh on cassette, the years I spent
learning Chopin, the careful way I tried to pick
my clothes to be myself but also what she wanted,
what he wanted: I know the sigh, like a breeze,
like release, like submission, in the one minute song
I loved. It was me, or any of us: I didn’t know
what it was, and neither did he, nor my mother or father,
that breath, that zephyr, that why can’t I be free?

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Six-winged seraph on a field of gold,
mandorla outlining the head and shoulders
of the son, whose head and shoulders
circulate in gold mosaic, as do the head
and shoulders of the infant he holds
on his knee. This child is the soul
of the divine mother, who is dead.
As in life, her robes are blue, but dull.
Saints cense her bier. This ceaseless sleep
has a Greek name I did not know, and is
a theme in holy art, which makes the
nap I fell into, hard, this afternoon,

on a Sabbath I kept by buying asparagus
and cheese and raisins more a dormition
than a failing, and the way I pulled the duvet
up around my ears more a rapture than
a languishing: I did not notice any
burning frankincense or myrrh,
and no one mourned but me, briefly,
before I let my heavy eyes have their way
with my consciousness, let the book
I was pretending to start to read fall
to the bed. My sleep was devout. I
venerated it. I revered it, it was

sacrosanct to me, and if no winged
creature was there to pull me heaven-
ward, well, at least when I woke up
there was still light outside, and blossom
on the tree, I called the name of my beloved
and he came to me, and from there we
were able to divine a supper and imagine
an evening: all praise hosanna and amen.


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the reed is as the oak
Wm. Shakespeare

The dour Swedish police novel cast away,
another investigation finished, I lay
on the upstairs bed, entirely satisfied.
The window tipped open, the day fine:
we’d been to the park in Aberdeen,
little Eli tottering on the uneven grass.
They called the weather that, fine,
a rarity and a bestowal to be discerned
from sudden sundresses, an absence of sleeves,
sun gleaming on pale skin, sandaled feet.
Upstairs I lay still, a pure registrar

of sense: the chaises pulled
from the shed, the radio tuned in and turned up,
the shimmer of accelerant on charcoal
and the striking of matches. Clink of bottles.
Laughter. I thought I could hear my
granddaughters among the voices.

This was years ago. Tonight we took
the dog to take his night circuit around
the neighborhood. A house up the street
watering its lawn after a day of drenching.
The sky big and clear. The spring clothes
we wore for a balmy walk two days ago
set aside, the coat a temporary shelter.
We are trees casting blossom to the ground,
the tulips pursing into tight sachets, we are
the rain reckoning admission for the sun.

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lost kingdom

I’m trying to listen to you and to everyone else
in this warren in Chengdu: this is, apparently,
real China, your words, where people actually
buy things. I have my fingers combing through
red cords ending with various carvings in cinnabar,
gifts to take home and something for myself.

I only want dragons, I told you. When I wanted to buy
another rubbing, you said, Are you sure you want
to be that person—who went to China and now
your house is full of Chinese art? I held out
one silk cord pulled from the many and said,
what is this? And you asked the woman, who

replied to you in Mandarin. You said, it’s basically
some kind of dragon, and that was that. Now,
the house is cold because the sky has decided
that March means the last of winter. It’s quiet,
not that it was loud when you lived here. This
was both before and after you lived in Chengdu.

I think about you when I’m at Target, touching
the jewelry and thinking of the adornments I meant
to buy when we were there, and didn’t. I mean
to call you but don’t. You took us to Four Girls
Mountain mainly because you were sick of going
to museums, for which I can’t fault you.

But that guesthouse where, on the one hand,
we felt we were sleeping in outhouses, but
where, on the other hand, the little brothers
or distant cousins of the Himalayas rose
just outside the window. Where we ate noodles
in a room just off the street and a charcoal fire

burned with grilled meat. Where the oxen
took the main road in town and the cat snoozed
in the cigarette display case. I brought back
only a small bag of saffron and feared
it would be forbidden, so I told no one.
Elsewhere, in museums, you bargained

with artists for their work. One, with blossom
falling over a field of more blossom, or maybe
they’re ducks. Another, fine paper cut work
of a river and a tiled roof house. Just one dragon
on the wall, and the dragon I wear sometimes,
the red cord cinched by beads up into the

hollow of my throat. I want to ask you,
do you remember the egrets on the other side
of the Brocade River? That’s the English
translation, who knows what its name was
in Mandarin. Remember the purple lights
that gleamed on the water from the underside

of the bridges? We walked down a street of
restaurants and stalls where students ate,
the music leaking out from the clubs, all
the young men and young women dressed
for dancing. All the questions I would have liked
to ask I was afraid to—like, what would you

be doing tonight if we weren’t here? When I
admire things that you’ve spent a year practicing
not seeing, does it make you impatient? What,
to you, seems sacred here? Like the stupas
up there in the mountains, where Jiarong
Tibetans live, the houses with red-painted

ridges and scrolled and flowered shutters.
The prayer flags stretched from eave to ground.
The filthy window near the top of the stupas
through which one can see a small icon
of the boddhisatva. What about that?
or the high mountains themselves? But

you’re in no mood for these questions, at least
not now, not at this remove, when you’re not
helping me look for dragons down this trap
of a mall, real China, or in fact anywhere
near me at all. You’re now living your life in the
GD woods, as you say, and who’s going to stop you?

Not me. I know it’s your life to live, and I
will not burden you with my memory or
the fact that I miss you, nor the fact that I
have built a tiny cairn of ever smaller stones
on the ledge of the stupa, one that helps me
find a way back to summer when there

was snow, still, tracing the paths and the girl
at the guest house told me to put on more
clothes so I would not be so cold, where
the broth and noodles were flavorless but
the breakfast, its hard bread and the three
small eggs she cradled in her hand, charmed us.

To this trip and your voice translating every
single thing that happened, the things
that happened in words and all the things
we saw. How you helped me find one last
dragon tangled in a knot of silk cords, how
despite the fact that I was slow, you made sure

I reached the top of the impossible stairs,
caught my breath in the high tower,
looked over the mountains stretching
far beyond, the air dense and particulate;
felt the mountain as the arching, twisting
spine of a serpent body filled with fire.

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The page after page after page
columned in two, design steady and firm,
as befits a holy book made when
both reading and vellum were scarce.

Columned in two, a design firm and steady,
except for the two prancing deer,
each as scarce as reading and vellum
on this tidal island scriptorium.

The two marginal deer prance,
their antlers somehow forming the ‘I,’
the first letter written in the scriptorium.
I like to think of a wit of a bored scribe,

thinking, ‘antlers will collide in an ‘I,’
fancier than crushed red lead pigment.’
This wit of a bored scribe alive
with invention, a mouse curled in an ‘O,’

a flourish out of orpiment and verdigris.
This book, he thinks, a miracle,
and invents a little dragon to menace
the creator making a world ex nihilo:

miraculous book we see in facsimile
its holiness befitting its loss:
ex nihilo it came and has returned
as page upon effigy upon page.

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