i know of no other life but this one. i am the sanctimonious seer,
the blind oracle, begotten of wild grasses and lavender, the scent
of stagnation in the air. they come to me with questions will
i have a son? will he work on wall street? will he drive a benz?
and i cast the knuckle bones and give them the answers they want.
they pay me in tobacco and crushed grapes. sometimes, i stand at
the edge of my cave and look out across the plains, teeming with
industrial factories and strip malls. sometimes i wonder if there
is not more to this than faded tarot cards and manufactured semi-
precious stones. i turn away, and shake my rain stick, and the
acid comes down with a soft pattering that is almost soothing.
i divorced you a thousand times in the produce section of the
supermarket. you can keep the rest of the stale cigarettes,
the oil paintings, that book on james morrison. you can keep
half the children (we have three) and on sundays when i would be
eating dinner at your mother’s house i will be free to walk around
my living room wearing only my underwear with a pineapple on my
head if i so choose. i was always a citrus fruit kind of girl, i
liked tang and a bit of bitterness, but you were one mouthful too
sour and more like a tomato anyway–an imposter, or something not
quite one thing or another. we had a bath and soaked to our
very pits, my breasts like two floating oranges. maybe lemons.
i ate your pink flesh with a spoon, digging into your center,
but you had spoiled seemingly overnight and sighing, i turned
to the artichokes, who sat with me quietly in sympathy.
i wake up with feathers in my mouth and a halo caught
around my thigh. looking for truth in the long cylinder
of the last cigarette in the pack the way i seek the lotus
in the mud. i build a structure fire in my heart, which
diminishes to a flickering lamp, so beautiful in its dim
blues and greens. i do sharp violence to my emerging
ribs and you help me cut away the skin with a narwhal’s
tusk. so this is what lightness feels like. there is
a trick to getting lost, to slipping through the cracks
in the macadam and re-emerging next season as a budding
sapling with limbs of disillusionment. you had forgotten
that life still courses forward but does not circulate
like blood, although it may sometimes seem that way.
if i’ve taught you nothing i’ve shown you how to cry
like a man. surrender your living room couch and your
television to me and and the angels will forgive us.
i must admit, i was more interested in the delivery
than the content, the ever-changing expressions
on your face, grimaces of glory and the oh of your
lips like the dot of an exclamation point, where
dwells all force and vigor. but i watched closely
for those moments when your face was open and
vulnerable, plain and beseeching. that would be
the moment when i would swoop down and kick your
teeth in. you’d want an apology later, and i would
refuse, citing your weak liver as justifiable
reason. see, the truth is is that although i saw
you hanging off that bannister i don’t believe
i’ve ever seen you drunk to know i prefer you
sober, or that levels of seratonin are never
a guaranteed thing, especially between the
orbits of people and i do think you are one
proton short of a positive charge, but i accept
this in the same way that i accept things like
light pollution and couldn’t you shine just
a little brighter for me. your pupils are the
size of universes and i think i can see the rings
of saturn as you read your poem about love and
other things that elude science.
my thoughts are little fictions thumbed through in the late
hours of night, fingerling books with gold leaf that rubs off
onto your skin. you collect them on a shelf that is never
dusty, flanked by statues of bygone days. my heart is encased
in glass in a paper weight on your desk that you never use.
so much of poetry is written in the damp lusty days of youth,
then forgotten as the bills, babies, and hearses roll in.
every word is a pallative against despair. the aggregate
of your wishings gone wasted, yes, i write about them too.
sometimes writing about other people’s problems is better
than writing about your own, but it’s all the same thing.
everything is a fiction in the end. it’s like faraway stars
that are already dead. we hold each other close and point:
look, there’s the star your ex ex boyfriend bought for you.
my thoughts are oracles that are always lying or just plain
wrong. i keep records of them, catalog them according to
the levels of absurdity. and my heart still beats inside
its glass prison on your desk that you never use.
we gathered emptiness in a bucket like water from the river
and poured it through a sieve until it was pure like sadness
and clear like diamond, sectioning the horizon with our hands.
there was blood caked in the corners of my mouth, there were
stars dropping from the sky like albino pears, and we felt
formless within our bodies and when i touched you drops of
clear song sprang from your skin. the sky was a giant mandala,
a wheel spinning, whiling away time, and our cheeks were
flecked with bright cloud. in the penumbra of night, there
with you, nothing was everything and everything was luminous.