Sunday, February 28, 2010


It burns me, the memory of that day –
            Like a forgotten image
            Jerked from behind my eyes.

From the window, we watched the night die.
The stars were iridescent raindrops on black glass.
And you looked at me with the mouth of solitude.
And I licked our sour blood from your lips –
            Lips devoured before they were kissed,
            Lips devoured with devotion.
And you built me a nest inside your heart –
            A nest in which to guard my tears.
And I looked at you with the mouth of solitude.
And you avoided the eyes of dying me –
            Like they were chips of glass from an accident
            You wanted to pretend you did not see.

There was no room for worship
            With the coming of morning.
And I had no gloves with which
            To grip the treadless night.

With sanitary eyes,
            We watched the sun rise
            And wash the heavens in
                        Blood and mercury and iodine.
And at noon, alone,
            A paradox without illusions,
            I gulped the white sky of July
                        From my open window.

and on the air fine dust trembled
and on the window ledge the sparrows fought for crumbs
and in my stomach your fire burned blue

And at dusk, the light faltered,
            Allowing one thousand darknesses.
But your light is unfaltering,
            World without end.

Monday, February 22, 2010


 "Dreams of Flying" by George Grie

after they have gone
i am alone with the words
the words they said
the words i heard
the words i imagined
the words i said
the words they heard
or perhaps did not hear
because they were not listening
though they pretended to listen
and in sinks this feeling
i know it so well
like the brown spot
on the inside of my left step
a beauty spot they call it
a mark i say
this feeling of something
this feeling of nothing
this feeling of a wet whip to the brain
this feeling of a white shock to the eye
and then i dream they will go away
not the whips or the shocks
not the words
but them
i dream they will go away forever
that i may rest with the words alone
and so i sit by myself in this darkness
that is broken by an artificial light
that i have allowed
i sit in this room
and the walls grow taller
and wider
and tighter
i sit in this chair
and the colors deepen
and glow
and pool
i sit
and my shallow inkpot becomes a well
i am a diary filled with words
filled to the brim but not overflowed
and yet locked
and the key discarded
and i dream they will return
not the walls or the colors
but them
i dream they will return
that i may think of something unsaid to say
some words with which to pretend a conversation
but why do i wish my words their own imprisonment
and with this distracting thought
the words are scattered
and my face smarts and my eyes sting
and the moment of my collapsing heart threatens
and i am mortified
with shame and humiliation
though i am with my Self
and She is with me
i am stumped
at catching my Self in this weakness
and my eyes want their explosion
but i do not allow it
i do not allow
this involuntary expression
that deforms a face beyond recognition

because i am afraid to cry

even with my Self
because somehow
if i should cry
i might lose a measure of pride
as if this measure
whatever its weight or size
can somehow save me
from the stigma
i do not allow
this involuntary expression
and though a measure of pride is retained
something in my heart is heavy
something in my mind is dark
with the
weight size
of this mark
of this stigma
of these tears unshed

but then comes Love

my love for me
because who will love me like i love my Self
and narcissus loved himself
so what of it
only an imbecile does not know
                        he loved the water too
and i wish i could live
and i wish i could die
and i sit by myself in this darkness
that is broken by an artificial light
that i have allowed
i sit in this room this chair
my tears like rocks in my eyes
and outside the moon sits in the sky
and glows like a polished crystal
but only an imbecile does not know
                        the moon does not glow

and my tears will not flow

no imbecile will see me cry
no imbecile will extend
a mocking finger and pretend
to dry my tears
only to lick my agony
and learn how salty my soul is
no imbecile will touch
no imbecile will know
my stigma is mine alone
like the brown spot
on the inside of my left step
and i sit with it
and it sits with me
and the walls grow taller
and the colors deepen
and my shallow inkpot becomes a well
and both diary and inkpot overflow

this is my infernal pleasure
this is my delicious license
this is my stigma
and mine alone

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

metz, interrupted

  "La Surprise" by Leonor Fini

trying to meet you
is at times
like being late for a train to
shall we say
i have lost my ticket
and lost some minutes
trying to find it
and i have lost my way
and on this rainy evening
the air is thick
with the vapors that come with rain
and now
i hopscotch over pools of muddy water
to reach the proper platform
# 3 as you’d said
and i run
my heels clacking on the wet pavement
and the rain drips
over the roofs of rusty enclosures
and the train whistles wail
one by one
and the brakes screech and whimper
as they clutch the steel tracks
and the trains hiss
as they release their pressure
and in crawl the smells
of electric sparks
and stale brioches
and day-old cologne
and i don’t think i’m quite there yet
at platform # 3
but this fog seems to lift
and the rain to become a drizzle
and i see you
out of the window of your compartment
your lips posed like an actor’s
in a movie called
shall we say
un giorno di primavera
and you are tranquil
and undisturbed and cool
and over the sound system
brigitte bardot is singing
c'est un jour comme un autre
et pourtant tu t'en vas
tu t'en vas vers une autre
sans me dire un seul mot
et je ne comprends pas… comprends pas
but she is interrupted
by the voice saying
last call for 20:02 to metz
and before i know it
the moment of departure is happening
the train is sliding over the tracks
and i see your fingers spread
and your hand wave
and i gasp for air
and my arm is a comma
wanting to circle you in
wanting to make that train pause
and i see you half-smiling
and my arm becomes a question mark
wanting to close around you
wanting to ask you why?
but i feel it in my stomach
and i hear it with my skin
the fates are laughing at me
and you are laughing with them
and your distance surrounds me
and i am unarmed inside this space
and my eyes are bandaged with drizzle
and i memorize this evening
tainted with train station air
and with speechless dejection
by heart

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Newton's Third Law

“Étude pour Poe” by Leonor Fini

Grab your book and sit down, kid. You’re not going anywhere any time soon. They’ve got you practically locked up with Grandma at home. And you didn’t understand what was happening at first, but the truth is slowly showing its hideous face.

Grandma’s dying.

And they’re not doing anything to stop it. Not only that – they’re “helping her” to die faster. They’ve got her stashed away in the coldest, darkest room in the house – the one with no windows. And they’re not feeding her, anymore. They do it to you all the time – send you to your room with no dinner. Just so they can “teach you a lesson.” If they can do it to you, they can do it to her. Nothing to eat. Nothing to drink. Starve. Dry out and shrivel like a snail pulled out of its shell and slammed on the pavement.

Your. Mom. Is. Killing. Her. Mom. And you wonder if you’ll have to do the same to her, one day. Kill her by starving her. I’d never do that, I hear you thinking. But never say never. Life has a way of making us do the unspeakable, kid. If push comes to shove you’ll do it. And push will come to shove when your future wife tells you she’s had it with wheeling your mom around everywhere and taking her out to the park and taking her out to the clinic and taking her out so she can fill her prescriptions and cleaning up her shit and yadda yadda yadda. You’ll be up against the wall. And you’ll know your mom will be gone soon anyway, and that she’s nothing but a bag of bones with a persistent heart, so you’ll figure you might as well take everyone out of their misery and pull the plug. Not that you’ll literally pull the plug. Or maybe you will. If there’s a plug to pull, you’ll pull it. Like I said, life has a way…

But that’s not the problem, right now. The problem is that Grandma is confined to her bed and you know she doesn’t like it one bit. You know she can hear them whispering about her in the hall. She breathes through a tube and pees into a bag but she can still hear like a barn owl. And most of the time they don’t even bother to step out in the hall and do their talking. They just stand right in front of her and talk about her in the third person like she’s already dead. The will and the estate and the dwindling health insurance and the deed for the house and so on. And she can’t talk back because she’s got that damned tube stuck down her throat. And you always happen to be in the room when they do that. And it spooks the hell out of you when they start with it because Grandma always sticks out her little hand that looks like onion skin speckled with brown polka dots glued around a handful of bones and clutches your wrist. And she looks at you with a tear beading in the corner of her left eye like she’s saying You won’t let them do this to me, will you, Mikey? Remember all the good times we had when you were a little boy? Remember when your mom had to pack you out of your house because you were moving and you stayed with me for ten days and I baked for you and we sat out on the porch and had cookies and milk?

And sure. You do remember. You remember Grandma’s house that looked like an illustration out of a fairytale book with her white lace curtains and her French windows and her rose bushes and the sound of the straining hinges on the swing on her porch and the ladybugs that liked to hang out at her windowsills and mushroom quiche for breakfast. And you remember Grandma tucking you in at night because you were afraid of the monsters under the bed. She’d tucked you in without making fun of you and told you she was going to sit right there until you fell asleep. No monster will ever come near you as long as I’m alive, she’d said.

But, nothing lasts forever, kid.

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about people we love, they tell you. It’s one of those hard facts of life. And they always make it a point to add, Grandma can’t make decisions for herself, anymore.

You’re only fourteen but you know all the hard facts already, because you’re always the one that ends up with Grandma while they’re all out "taking care of business." And it’s not like you hate having to babysit Grandma, because you do remember all the times you’d been a bad boy and Grandma had never said a word to your mom. So you don’t mind it in the least. You don’t even really mind the smell of disinfectant that’s supposed to mask the smell of human waste but ends up smelling like disinfectant trying to mask human waste. It’s just that when you’re hanging out with Grandma, you always feel like you want to try and explain your mom’s behavior, or justify it, maybe. Or something. You know. Just to clear your conscience. And maybe help Grandma to feel a little better. But you know, deep inside yourself, that your grandma knows everything that’s going on, already. That Alzheimer’s may be creeping in and licking away small slivers of her mind, and she may be as ancient as a mummy, but her gut is as alive as it’s ever been. And your grandma’s gut is telling her some pretty evil shit about her daughter. Your mother. That woman who lectures you about morals. Ha – what a laugh! She lectures you about doing your chores so you can "earn your allowance," and then she turns around and starves her mother so she can get on with her own life. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about people we love.

And so you sit there with Grandma. And you wet her dry lips with a damp sponge because you know she's thirsty but they tell you she can't drink. And sometimes you read to her from Kidnapped while she stares at that right angle that connects the ceiling to the wall in front of her. And you don’t know if she’s really listening to you, but you keep reading, anyway. I’m doing my part of the deal, you say to yourself. And while you’re reading to Grandma, they’re at the bank or at the store or at the attorney’s office. And sometimes they all decide to go out and "do something social." Together. Your mom and her one sister and her one brother. And their spouses. And this is what happens today.

They decide they all want to go out and eat. And they decide they’re taking you with them. And you start to protest and make excuses. I’m not hungry and Who’s going to take care of Grandma? But they’re not listening to you. As usual. And you’re seriously worried about Grandma, because you know that she's terrified of being alone. But they’re worried about the fact that they’ve let you watch them for too long without stepping in and trying to explain what’s going on. And this lunch is their way of ganging up on you and “presenting the facts” in one whopping session.

They’ll start with the usual Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about people we love. And then they’ll move on to Grandma can’t make decisions for herself, anymore. This will be followed by Grandma’s going to be moving on to a better place. And then they’ll start to explain about God and Heaven and all those other words that you never hear them say except when someone’s pissed off at someone or something and they say Goddammit! or  Oh my God, I can’t believe this! or Good Heavens! Yes. It’s always exclamatory. But this time they’ll speak calmly. And they’ll tell you Grandma is unhappy but when she dies she’ll be happy again. And they’ll expect that to make you feel okay about what they’re doing.

So, you’ll all go to a burger joint. And everyone will place their order. Mom and Dad and Aunt Lisa and Uncle Brad and Jim and Alice. And then it’ll be your turn. And you’ll think about saying you’re not hungry, again. But you might as well order yourself a burger and some fries and keep them quiet. You’re going to have to learn to be wiley around wiley people if you’re going to make it in this big jungle, kid. The rules of the game are simple: Order burger and fries lunch with ice-cold coke. Make small talk with family members while awaiting order. Make eye contact with each person with whom you speak. Speak with confidence. When food arrives, pick up burger. Take one bite and chew well. Swallow down with ice-cold coke. Eat French fry. Make small talk. Take another bite of burger and chew. And so on and so forth. And then when they start talking about the whole Grandma business, which will probably come around your second or third bite, once they know they’ve got you stuck, you’ll want to tell them, “Grandma might smell like decaying skin and concentrated urine. But you guys stink to high heaven!” But don’t! Just nod your head like you’re saying, “I understand what you’re saying completely.”

Play the game, kid. And don’t let on. You haven't learned about Newton's Third Law yet, have you? The one that says that for every action there's an equal reaction? It's about matter, but the truth is, it works for humans, too. So just think about that every time you consider not going with the flow. These are some pretty messed up people. And you already know that they’ll do to Grandma what they do to you. So the opposite should be no news – they’ll do to you what they do to Grandma. And you sure as hell don’t want them thinking you can’t make decisions for yourself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

atmosphere of altered dream

                                                         "La Dormeuse"
                                                                  by Tamara de Lempicka

and this is how it always is

we have always met in the dark
we have always hidden in the shadows

you have always cried with open eyes
you have always pleaded for secrecy

i have always searched for the light
i have always danced to the sun

and this is how it always will be

one day twenty years from now
i will see you by chance
standing with another in front of
a certain shop window in a certain city

and i will stand behind you
and i will touch you
and you will turn around

and i will see recognition in your eyes
but you will pretend you do not recognize

and my heart will fold over itself
not because you did not recognize me
but because you denied me

and i once had this dream…

i saw you twenty years from now
standing with another in front of
a certain shop window in a certain city
and you did not know me
and this was real in the dream that i dreamed
you did not know me and it was a nightmare
with you its custodian
after what we had shared was it possible
you could one day see me and not know me
and in my dream i’d written
the preferred scenario
where things went like this…

i saw you twenty years from now
standing with another in front of
a certain shop window in a certain city
and i was standing behind you
and i touched you
and you turned around
is that really you you said
it’s so good to see you
and i said it’s good to see you too
and you said what have you been up to
all these twenty-some odd years
and i smiled and told you every detail

but in the dream i dreamed
the true scenario had imposed itself
and it went like this…

i saw you twenty years from now
standing with another in front of
a certain shop window in a certain city
and i was standing behind you
and i touched you
and you turned around
and yes? you said
and i said it really is you it’s been so long
and sorry you said but do i know you?
followed by a confused look on your face
and my heart folded over itself
even as i slept and dreamed
not because you did not recognize me
but because you denied me

and this is how it always is
and this is how it always will be
in dreams we touch with floating fingers
that linger and hover but never feel
in dreams our voices are muffled
like they're speaking inside our heads
in dreams we are light like we're
levitating in a challenge to gravity
in dreams we try to alter outcomes
in the ultimate test to reality
and this is how it always is
and this is how it always will be