Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blood Show

today a book asked me
what does it mean to be American
and all I could think about
was marching on for hours
looking for the entrance to the Moskovskii Zoopark
watching skinny Russians eat pounds and pounds of ice cream
walking for miles, all over the city, in their high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes

and not having any place to sit down
it was a sci-fi world of cement
and there was a blister on my heel

when I took off my shoe
which was pink and had a bow on it
blood spilled out
dripping in little drops onto the sidewalk
and I realized
my foot is bleeding

which reminded me of Cinderella's sisters
and of the Little Mermaid
and appealed to my sense of pride

because feet only bleed if they're sensitive.

how do they walk so far
in more brutal shoes than mine
and never even wince?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Return to a Theme from My Youth

Yellow dandelions and tiny purple flowers--
whose name I do not, of course, know--
have been sprinkled over a green, green lawn.
In the midst of a construction project,
surrounded by gravel and bits of glass,
a small magnolia tree is blooming.
In my ear--and should I really be listening
to my iPod all the time?--Avril Lavigne's voice
sounds exhausted, which is really worrying.
These are all little, common things--
the grass needs mowing;
suddenly, people are outside;
breezes merge with gales--
but to me, they are signposts
of the passage of time:
valuable, important to mark.
Each change is heartbreakingly gorgeous
and beautifully sad;
the Sublime, I find, is in the apple blossom
as completely as in the Great Divide.

Sonnet LI: On Love

A pool in the savanna, black and wet:
here the thirsty people stare in wonder.
Crocodiles wait calmly for our blunder,
the sharp mosquitoes buzz around and fret,
and unseen, tiny creatures dream they met
in our blood and tore our throats asunder.
Drink or not: in either case, the plunder
of living flesh is offered with regret.
But thirst torments the reason: will the sticks
pierce through us as we drink? The water, cool
and very bitter, is entrapped in eye,
esophagus, and stomach with the flicks
of feeble hand because there is no pool
that's clean enough, and either way, we die.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I left the door closed
when I opened the windows.
New books are boring.


Water in the spring
smells like dead fish and old leaves.
Preschool ends today.

Rondeau Redoublé

Today is the last
day the magnolias bloom.
Their petals have massed,
ready to fall to their tomb.

Too many days have brought gloom.
Of all that have passed
out of the silvery womb,
today is the last:

the penitent, fast,
shrinking, and vast
day the magnolias bloom.

The eyes of the blast
sprinkled all over the loom,
uneasy and glassed,
ready to fall to their tomb.

People are driven to groom,
however they're classed,
sweeping them up with the broom.
Wherever they're cast,
their petals have massed.

Rondeau: to my younger sister

Counting over every stone,
I discover I've been shown
all of the world in glowing
shadow and evening, flowing
over earth, and overblown.

An enchanting bud has grown
underneath my sullen throne,
fresh into life and growing
out of my time.

All my muscle, all my bone
balks at giving up its own,
all the while, fully knowing
whispers of age are showing,
and my gift is just a loan
out of my time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I choose to worship in this game of cool
pretensions (to enact this role though I
am strong and thus need no direction; though
inherent worth is found in both of us)
because there is a meaning in this part
(in choosing service, entertaining whims
with nothing but a wry and subtle smile
to indicate that this amuses me),
because it pleases me to witness the
vainglorious delight and triumph that
predictably rewards my efforts: her
uproarious yet understated, poised
and rollicking expression of surprise
and admiration at my best attempts
to craft the world for her amusement and
the cynic gratefulness for me that she
acknowledges in every moment, though
it’s never stated. Easily she stole
my grim demeanor; she is beautiful
when pouting and when serious. I want
to be her second-in-command until
the day I die, for feeling useful lends
compelling satisfaction, even if
I know she doesn’t really need me. That’s
the way I want it. It’s an easy thing
to tolerate her; I don’t run because
I know that I can run at any time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sonnet L: Anthropology Classroom

Uneasy and embarrassed, Johnny sits
and listens as his self, each living piece,
is sifted, labeled, broken into bits,
condemned, and then discarded 'til they cease,
and at the end, they've rendered him bereft
of all his life and all he knew before.
Just broken pieces of cement are left
that do not fit together anymore.
They say to Johnny, "Build your soul anew,"
and hand to him the mortar, thick and cold,
along with brand-new stones and straw and sticks.
They know today, and yesterday they knew,
that any leftovers he still may hold
will never fit among the square-edged bricks.

Friday, April 10, 2009


April day: how refreshing to be sane,
speaking without the urgency and fear,
walking in sun and wandering in brain.
It is so strange for life to be this clear--
not to persuade or whisper in the ear;
I don't know how to act without that pain.
Bubbling up, the world is flushed and fired,
splashing on me the summer of the year.
What a relief: not to be warm or tired.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sonnet XLIX

I walk out from the tunnel into lights,
through rubber airport gates, and toward the street.
My passport in my hand, I go to meet
a place I've never met, its sounds, its sights,
with nouns and gestures, adjectives and rites,
expecting where I live and what I eat
to be as new to me as Mars. My feet
go hurrying, continuing my flights.

But the first thing that assaults me, plastic
and superb, an English sign displaying,
"WELCOME TO _______!", is coarse and flirty.
Down the street, they're more enthusiastic:
This is just like home, except it's dirty.

Sonnet XLVIII: Oatmeal

Seeds, like grains of sand, are catching
on ridges, soft and solid eggs
slipping down the throat, the retching
esophagus, the hands, the legs,
coating, glopping--globs are dropping--
into stomachs--plop! plop! plopping.
The longer that you put it off,
the colder it will get; you cough,
choking on the solid, slimy,
congealed, and slickened vesicles
that only perseverance pulls
down the gullet, dirty, grimy,
and moving, squirting through the cracks
like babies born in sloppy sacs.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sonnet XLVII

It's certain we don't know what we don't know
and whether we should know it as arranged
is useless as an earnest question, so
don't ask it. We don't know; that can't be changed.
So punish us in justice and in full.
Make ashes of our bodies and our lands,
and give a flash of pain that dyes our wool
with blood and screaming bright inside our hands.
Just kill us; tear our stomachs from our lungs
and hammer, hammer it into our brains
with nails of information; nail our tongues
to our apologies and our remains:
but do it only once (it will suffice)
and not forevermore--not even twice.

Sonnet XLVI

The scent of sandalwood, untraceable,
is here, then gone, then here again. I breathe;
it changes. Sometimes smells and tastes that wreathe
around me fool me; I can't know, can't pull
reality from them. Are others dull
to what I sense? That is, did gods bequeath
to me a gift? Or does confusion seethe
inside my brain, untended, random, null?
Should I believe my eyes, my nose, my ears?
Or do I trust my logic and my thought?
These questions are rhetorical, and so
I leave them with you with your childish fears
and skip away; it's stupid that we fought
for knowledge when we knew we could not know.

Sonnet XLV

When I was searching for domestic bliss,
I thought I wanted someone cute and dumb,
some big-eyed baby I could snuggle, kiss,
and boldly rescue from its native slum.
I pictured admiration, gratitude,
enthusiasm; I could teach, decide,
give presents, answer questions, hand out food,
expect respect, obedience, and pride.
I pictured happy curiosity
and sweetness; I imagined being free
from nagging and accountability,
from punishments and cynical ennui.
I thought I wanted someone cute and dumb.
I got one. Now I wish I had a chum.

Sonnet XLIV

All relationships are squalling
and screaming infants tied around
feet and ankles, tripping, stalling,
and bearing down with weight and sound.
I will feed them in the fountain:
I will drag them up the mountain
and sever every length of cord,
leave them at the summit, board
Hades' boat, and from its railing,
unfettered, fling myself and cry,
"Let them untie themselves or die!
Let them feed themselves, prevailing!"
I, falling, am the bonded slave
to none but gravity and grave.

Formes Fixes

I. Virelai

Irving damn Berlin was right:
the boy I marry must be white
and pink as nurseries and quite
as pure and try as hard to please.
The boy I cradle sharp and tight
within my sight
must be as warm as gentle seas.
His polished nails will shine in light,
his hair full-bright
with flowers from the summer trees.
A doll to carry, soft and slight,
a kitten purring through its fright,
satin, lace, and stars and night:
the boy I marry must be these.
As usual, the man was right:
the boy I marry must be white
and pink as nurseries and quite
as pure and try as hard to please.

II. Rondeau

The boys who are sweet and pretty
he says are lies.
It hurts him, but I still want them.
My insults will draw his pity,
not his disguise.
The boys who are sweet and pretty
he says are lies.
He can't be as smitten, witty,
constant, or wise;
I know, and I hate to flaunt them.
The boys who are sweet and pretty
he says are lies.
It hurts him, but I still want them.

III. Ballade

I cannot answer this in a ballade:
it is like armor on Akhilleus’ heel
(though all the while, he never was a god—
nor was Patroklos, strong as his appeal);
it is like lightless light, insensate feel,
anhydrous water, genuine façade.
And who can say that there was no mistake
in our creation or in our ordeal?
And who can say we will not fall and break?

Sonnet XLIII

It cannot be denied that what we are
is tragedy; we want, imagine, need
what can't exist, though lies are told that bar
our understanding this with hope and greed.
What he wants is not what I am, maybe;
what I want is not what he is, surely.
We expect the happiness, the baby,
as we heard, believed, and trusted purely.
Our speech upholds our dreams, but still we grow
both upward and apart. The things we seek
cannot exist although we need them, so
we seek with hopeless hope and hardly speak.
All the time we're talking, smiling, joking,
we are treading water; we are choking.


Saturday, April
4th at the Fairgrounds
10 to 3
Drag Show at Midnight
Bring ID!