the ark (for irene, august 2011)

for irene, august 2011

she told me to build an ark, and since she was the size
of a continent who was i to argue. there was a prize
inside if you could reproduce, because after all,
it was the reason for pairs. i made a phone call
and we were off. i gathered pine and oak and beech,
and though i knew nothing about ship building as such
i was confident i could build a vessel worthy
of weathering the hurricane’s flood with surety.
the rain began to come down and the parade moved forth
in went the giraffes and elephants all ready to give birth
followed by the two cockatiels with clipped wings
and the duo of raccoons with their eyes all ringed
in went the wolves, the frogs, and the domestic
animals, the cats and the dogs and ferrets, the pick
of the litters, and we were just about to close
the door when in some others came poking their nose
in came the alcoholics with their huge packs of beer
followed by the depressed pair practically in tears
in came the drug addicts with their needles and pipes
and the hookers with herpes and vaginal wipes
in came the catholics demanding seats at the front
and so the homophobics moved over with a grunt
but not before making sure of the gender of the former
when it finally was settled and everyone seemed to concur
i closed the portal and we settled in for a long night.
with all this cargo i knew everything would be alright
and everything would be back to normal at first light.


alignments and calibrations

realign your spine, count the red cells, hold fingertip to
fingertip because you could chew out the side of your mouth
but i heard every word you said and i’m holding you to it.
measure out your inconsistencies, all the feigned innocence,
measure yourself out like flour but don’t forget to sift.
i made you a cake with a dull saw inside, i used a spoon
to slit my wrists, measuring out blood by how strong you
like your coffee. sugar dissolves inside us but doesn’t
make our words any sweeter. i string your words together
but rearrange them how i want. rearrange how these events
happened and you might have a different opinion. rearrange
these tangram pasts and connect these thoughts with the vein
i ripped out of my arm. check the pressure of your stare
and recalibrate your heart. it’s always so inaccurate.


boil your heart down to the stone. line them up between
the hedges. for you i called down the moon. the foam-
ringed shoulders of the sea did more than shiver.
the silver lining of your mouth glinted in the light,
shed its lips and what was shadow went unseen
i wandered your coast filled with white shells and loam
where i buried my journal and ink in a watery blur
there were too many prophecies hinging on what might
happen, how just the flick of your wrist could clean
the shore of debris and i couldn’t go beachcomb
for moonlight anymore, drunk on frankincense and myrrh
looking for something hidden like a pearl so bright
and how many times must i be held and submerged beneath
and how many hearts must i pluck from between your teeth


dark comes like a pinhole opening from underneath
into a gaping abyss lined with red clover and heath
i have grown to love the feeling of being beneath
i like the way your spine feels between my teeth

we do not fly, we do not float
where we end up will be some place remote
this poem was for you, that’s why i wrote
so take my hand but don’t forget your coat

it’s not a rabbit hole, it’s a wormhole
the truth is written on an already-burned scroll
and though i am fallen, at least i am still whole
and i’m never giving back the heart i stole

it’s the best kind of falling
inscribed stellar messages scrawling
through endless space we are sprawling
so tell me you love me and stop fucking stalling

we meet together below a digital sea
a universe is handed from you to me
you breed thoughts that spiral into infinity
what will come of this, we shall see.

a long walk off a short pier, or, how i discovered i could walk on water

what if no one held you for the first three months of your life. what if the back of your head was so flat from days and nights spent lying in a crib, with no one to cradle you, no one to hold you close and sing softly in the delicate shell of your ear. what if the artificial peppermint flavor from your first kiss never washed from your mouth and now every day you eat mint flavored steak and mint flavored bread and mint flavored dick. what if you had to take ten (sometimes eleven) pills a day just to convince yourself that you aren’t on the precipice of madness, that all that therapy and all that time spent in the hospitals was for your own good, so you wouldn’t hurt yourself, they said.
what if you’re damaged. what if everybody is damaged. you can’t change what happened but you can change what’s going to happen. what if there were no boundaries, what if you spilled yourself out all over the place, holding your nerve endings up in case someone wanted to tease and twang them, what if you decide to stop replaying the past over and over again in your head and cut the reel of all the bad clips, what if you stood beneath this shock of sky and realized that you’ll never truly be okay, and you’re okay with that. what if you lived your life as more than just a metaphor. what if nothing happened for a reason and that was reason enough. what if you were stronger than they said.

songs about death, part 96

draw me into the conspiracy of your arms and i will tell
you everything, how closely i listened to that shell
for the sound of your voice calmly telling me everything
would be okay, back when my only belief was nothing
that ever set foot upon the soft muscle of the heart
planting a flag, one giant leap that made my body start
to know what it felt like to be encapsulated in the fur
of your mind that wrapped itself around me, that would stir
within me something heavy and scarred, something old
that had been lying dormant waiting to be told
that we must take a break from suffering, at least for
a while, that in fact there is something more
to be discovered, to be fought for, that the universe
is held within a drop of dew and that while i may converse
about death, at the end, everything goes in reverse
and you’ll see me waving with a smile from my hearse.

the bearded lady

i want to grow a beard. i want lush, curly hair growing on my
cheeks and my chin, which i’d stroke when deep in thought,
which would be all the time. this is not to say i wish to be
a man. i would like to be a feminine lady with a dark-colored
beard, long eyelashes, and curls at my forehead. annie jones
was born in 1860 and by the time she was five she had sideburns
and a mustache. annie, tell me, did your husband love to stroke
your beard as he stroked your long brown hair at the same time?
did he pull you by the beard when you were being difficult, or
give you oils to massage into your cheeks and chin? did you sing
in the bath as you lathered, did you feel bad when people came
to point and stare? your beard lay nestled between your breasts
as you slept, and i am jealous as i look at your picture, your
heavy lidded eyes and all that dark hair flowing from your face,
and when they buried you they threaded gold in the soft locks,
queen of the circus, king of them all.