Posts Tagged ‘hightouchmegastore’


I swallowed once, to clear my ears
of their insectile ringing, which continued,

distinct, and moved one foot noiselessly and looked
up to where the light came in white

as if fluorescing, but filtered in through what glass
one could not say for one could not see it:

it spilled over the baffle, octagonal to match
the octagon of the walls, whitening everything:

the black stone floor, the heavy wood benches
where I sat, wondered how long I would sit,

how long the woman on the zabuton before me
would sit motionless, how long before I

would rise and then leave: the dark panels
did not change but somehow became still

more visible, purpling into black, into that ink
of blue, a black edged in oxblood: and I rose,

felt breath move within my ribs, circumambulated
the oblong purples blues blacks reds, paint in thin layers

a mute drone so somber yet the light in its
invisible particles I took in once more,

and again breathed it, looked up, around,
and opened the door, and left.

(at the Rothko Chapel)

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banging around in a town made of money.
Consequently, tomorrow I will set myself to
drift down, away from Discovery Green, noting
every cross street, until I reach the Museum of
Fine Arts. There they keep every perfect thing: a
Gutenberg with all the hidden gospels. A
henna etched woman, her face a prayer. The
Ishtar Gate that belongs, truthfully, to Iraq.
Jade syllables in a silk sack, to tumble out a
koan lost to imperial time. Spelled out
like this, it’s easy to think all art is like the
marbles from the Parthenon Lord Elgin claimed.
Nomads in the city, we stroll past the
organic grocery, the fine restaurant, flowering
plums in bloom: the work to be done’s a
quatrain, haphazard, unrhymed, rough and
ragged: still, I’ll go, no matter the critique,
since there I believe I’ll see the exhibit of
the earliest paintings of the Cubists, secured and
underwritten by the financiers of the trustees of the
very most exclusive of the oil men, and
when I see them, I promise you, I will
examine them so carefully,
you can’t imagine with what jealousy, with what
zoophilic logic I will acquire them for my own eye.

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when I woke up on fire my first thought
was for matches, for I was no trifler,
I was a fire-artist in earnest:

my comrades, they brushed the sparks off
like so much glitter, like so much dust,
and I opened my hands, gathered

every glint and flick, though they would
scatter, splinter from the marriage I
was wont to make of them: ash by glow

aside kindle next to flame: already
on fire I held its moving glister, and
readied the breath of my breast to blow–

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I don’t want one thing in my life to be
automatic: not the machine that washes
my dishes nor the one that washes my clothes,
not even the little terse mouth that accepts

my credit card at the store, then spits it out.
That gorgeous green apparatus I finally
bought after years of guiding a little mouse-
powered hand-held, at least I turn it on

and off, even if its beater hums along and I
can walk away without watching, the batter
constructing itself: and if ‘automatic’ means

‘without thought’ or ‘without watching’
or ‘requiring no human intervention beyond
manufacture’ or, bluntly, ‘machine,’
then I suppose it is true that my life

is much machined, transacted without
much on my part besides flipping an on switch,
and checking back here and there to see if it’s
really working, and cursing when, for instance,

the crust of last night’s pasta has hardened on
the blue plate, the machine carrying out its own
encaustic arts. I wish I could make an art out of
my life with you, such as that time a machine kept

your heart and lungs going for hours and hours.
I drew an image of white light around your head,
your head and its silver hair and beard, I drew it
and drew it, like a sun, like stars. After, you slept

and slept the anesthetic off, oxygen flowing in.
The monitors singing their monotonous contraption-
songs. A nurse performed a beautiful ballet of post-op
steps. I watched her as I held your hand, reaching

for it from a chair set an awkward stretch away.
She took blankets from a warmer to drape
over your body. Your hand a weight in mine,
a small rig for the moment so quietly idling.

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2010 poem 16.

Five Photos

They overlap. Pieced together they make an uneven
panorama, a whole face, a bloc of gray buildings,
and although there are windows, they squint unyieldingly.
They are taped to the steel credenza of my office

ever since the boy, his face laced with scars from the accident
that almost took his life, left them there at our last appointment.
They were of Bulgaria, in a city. There were cars parked askew,
haphazard.  Shot from on high, not aerial, but storeys

above the ground, from some balcony, perhaps, though
what architect would plan such a view? The building
from an era one would as soon forget.  It must have been
happenstance, that the vista took in this sweep of concrete

and tough-eyed windows. He must have stood at a window,
one staring down the other.  The plain on which it stood
a barrenness. Who had a car could leave it. Who didn’t,
too bad for him, for from here to there would take

legs and breath and perhaps a pack of cigarettes, again
if you happened to be lucky.  Look there: in the second
photo moving left to right, a pinpoint of burning. A fire.
“Gypsies,” he told me, he who long ago came home

from Bulgaria. He’d had a gospel there. Good news,
and then an accident. He was in my office to write about it,
to show me and then to talk.  When I called him, I had
to leave a message, the reply to which was a volleying silence.

It was his mistake, to leave them, but I love them: I love
the remnant of a world and of a life.  I love the bare plain
between the cold cells of these apartments and the place
he stood to see them, where he opened his mechanical eye.

His stories I barely remember, but I love the lowering winter,
the broad old cars, the marks that are probably people.
The date in the corner of the far right picture. The fire, lick
of transient light, the smoke of it still somewhere burning.

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2010 poem 15.


Facing north, we felt it especially at ten, walking out
with the dog, who all day saw it coming:
I walked in, saw yesterday’s mail and the day before’s

blown on the floor in the pattern of a wind pushing in,
around the propped open door.  I straightened
and ignored what the storm was so plainly telling me:

batten down, find your torches, locate the matches,
set up the candles. Do not sit down until you can make
light in the dark without a switch. Where are your guns?

Find the knives. Have you checked the locks? You head out
with that dog, as if the wind might not lift you
like Dorothy. As if the trees won’t loose their limbs

on you. Are the storm windows fast? Is there water
in your Mason jars? Pile the quilts high,
gather the pack in the back room, huddle for warmth.

Disregard the blossom flying apart. Go ahead,
get sad about the cherries.  Watch the trees split,
the pergola fly into the night. Watch the night.

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2010 poem 14.


and in the dark of the afternoon room I fell asleep while the little one paged through the photographs slipped into their sleeves in her book,

and the pictures began to speak:

there were messages caught there, when the captured light made ink made image did its first alchemy,

whole speaking lives that were no more:

she once lived by the sea, there was a desert inland that had a street named after him,

or if not a whole street, then his name was written there in the road beneath the road beneath the road:

on the hill, a dragon’s outline, made from the red dirt of that region by the people who have long since disappeared,

though they whisper beside us, behind us at the cinema, or while we drowse

in darkened rooms, in April, a curtain veiling the sun blazing,

and the trees hold their handsful of blossom

and the tulips cut and stems bending, still, in an envelope of water.

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2010 poem 13.


The umbrellas move across the plaza, fold, then collapse into the revolving door.
The rain slides down the glass wall.
I’m sitting inside it, four floors up.
The rain flies, it catches light.

In a picture book, I’m looking at Edward Steichen’s Flatiron Building.
Across the room, there are photographs made of ink unfurling into dragons in water.
In Steichen’s New York, it is damp, perhaps a rainy evening.
The shot looks wet.

I think I am done with the week’s tears.
My love sleeps opposite me, settled into a chair.
It’s the same room where the men and women of this city go when they have nowhere else to go.
They spend a part of each day here, sometimes reading, sometimes arguing volubly among themselves.

I have forgotten my notebook.
Here’s a folded paper upon which to write a few sentences.

Something about the forecast.
Later, when we draw near to the house, we’ll find the street is papered with wet petals from the flowering trees lining either curb.

On the inside, I am raining.

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2010 poem 12.

Watching television

First it’s A Few Good Men, which is always on
because it’s just that good, or else it’s an endless
parody of itself, Tom Cruise’s face either a paragon
of vacuousness or vacuousness itself.  This is

the sort of thing that a whole evening of television
watching will bring to the forefront
of consciousness: deep down in places I don’t talk about
at parties, do I want him on that wall?

Our team’s center’s Achilles tendon has snapped,
making our expected run deep into the playoffs
a fantasy, full stop, but we are still watching,
watching while a fourteen point lead dwindles

to two, then none, watching us, undermanned,
play gallantly on.  Truth be told, sometimes
I would watch like this just because it was Monday,
and Monday is a night of good shows,

but tonight I am ignoring dread and sorrow both.
We break it up with a walk in the cool night.
We come back to watch for the second time
the finale of our legal thriller.  The lawyer is a bad mother.

She is on a pier, looking out at the water
trying to handle the truth.  We’re down by one.
Five minutes left. She asks herself, was it worth it?
I watch and watch. The game goes on. It’s time to sleep.

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2010 poem 11.

[too raw by 200%. read at your own risk.]


for my youngest child

Once more, I apologize for everything,
since it’s that time of year again
when I am found wanting.  I failed at love and,
on the other hand, apparently loved you
too much.  In the wrong proportions, anyway.
I know this.  There was a time I kept looking
for the sky, spinning, starry or sunny
or leafy, failing to stay steady when it was
steadiness that was called for. Not even
as a child could I make things stay still.

I know it won’t make things better
if I say it was all my fault. You want a catechism.
Now would be a good time to say I am sorry
that I cannot recount my faith in the requisite articles,
but I will give you the ones I have:  I believe

in more than one thing.  I love God and
I love the idea of God.  I believe in mercy
but cannot locate the merciful for myself.

If you want to know, I have never forgiven
myself, either, for my unbelief or for my failures,
which makes this ritual of ours
a little ironic. But I do believe in something,
and straightforwardly, like the time
in the cathedral when I glimpsed
my heart held in sacred hands.  Once I learned
how to testify what I didn’t really know,

although, darling, I have pictures of you
that I look at over and over, holy cards,
pictures of you running, on fields
with a ball at your feet, on tracks, and I
always believed in you, I believed
that you would win, that you would
break the tape, I knew
that you would score that goal.

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