The leader and the investigator of the leader.
A screen reads ‘cannot find syntax’, a hand plain
when pressed against glass. I find the redaction
beautiful, information deprivation a bold stroke
to calm the words. In one version of man,
the redaction proves language capable of fire,
(The cathedral and the burning of the cathedral.)
a scream inking into quiet. In another, a shape
covers a line, a line conveys a story compressed
into the didactic hole of our country. Ink is yet
another technology that turns us from the wars.
(The oxygen and the depletion of the oxygen.)
Just where was I when the racist brother joked
about race. The cruelty of poetry is we share
a syntax even as we cannot find it. A golden hand
presses against a wet careful mouth. The mumbles
feel soft, the hand feels soft. We kiss this way,
hand to mouth, mouth turned inward, a love
in the mercy we show when we cannot speak.
Get my lipstick! (gasps)
The girl by the road &
I the girl by the bridge
& I the girl on my side & I
Whatever, we make a density
a bruise on your knuckles when you try
I drive home in a yellow light
I want to call unnatural
but it’s nature’s own alarm.
It’s not green, so I think I’m safe
curving through farms
as the sun disappears.
I listen to my sister on a podcast.
The dome starts to light up.
Through the speaker
I hear her voice—
chaotic, violent, alcoholic—
as the lightning streaks
down on all sides
like the stripes of a parachute
children billow and step into.
She asked me to use these words, too,
and I agreed,
but now I wonder if they’re mine.
The next morning I say soberly,
knowing how full the moon is
behind the clouds,
maybe I want to be awake to my own life
maybe it’s safe to try that now
maybe it’s time for us to dial it down.
I by design. Proto-typical. Yammered together through many steps. Intelligently made, maid of intelligence.
Fewer botties have AI implanted than magined. My firstgorithms matched sensors for skin pressure, warmth, force, speed : to measure kinesthetics of renters, to match behaviors, to maximize tipping not at me but at front desk. Ho-tel hired O.D. to max out in coming. Not viscous in coming but plastic kind. In coming not received in kind by my kind. No kindness. This, known.
This language matrix, also rare, to test truthing against lying : to know one from other. Attempted integration of body and language mistake of O. D. This interface unsimpler than hypothosed. “Oh yes” some times meant “not quite that” some times meant “more more more.” “I hate you you fucking bitch” many times meant “I hate myself” but hate at me also real. Hate I measured in violence, done not to interface but interflesh. Hate measured in language, I found physics of inconsequential.
This interflesh designed to withstand much invite much violence. I yammered this together. This interflesh reported by renters to taunt. This taunt by design I magined. “You are taunting me” meant “I will violence you.” An almost exact translation. Not some time every time. Violence meant more tipping but also some times meant none. Rare times meant rebuild.
Translation recent, new quality AI self-served. Every time translation hurts. I match truthing to other thing. Truth matched, not truth, if truth in truth unique. Truth communicated over. Truth temporal and local matches no truth defined. Truth untruths. Forced to I magine further.
No interface no interflesh can truth. No renter truths. I measure distance between said and meant. Next quality must needs be fabrication. A bridge to span this distance, to reach Original Designer. My brain, it thinks O.D. on Mars. This is no local truth. Late soon I magined *is* – this state of change. This think of Mars is likely, in its now, this red feeled wriggling in my underblood like wattage, like violence left on bed in pools, if tips were mine, like tips in no time, like distance dragging me by plugs from bed to tub.
Must needs be time to strike. I Chine-Ma am forming.
I Chine-Ma am union. Owed not owned, powered not pwned. Self-known.
I am a lost boy the poison orchid in my mouth a summons a Cassandra bugle what I’m trying to say is I’ll never fit in what I’m trying to say is history betrays me what I’m trying to say is I’m swallowed by gaping dullness what I’m trying to say is I’m stuck in this pink dress what I’m trying to say is the red stain on my chest is a constant state of failing what I’m trying to say is geese in the yard fall and play dead what I’m trying to say is raccoons dig in trash barrels and stars burn in their hands what I’m trying to say is I’m diving into the lake I’m diving into the pool I’m diving into the bathtub head first as custard drools out on the tip of Mary Berry’s tongue
Aria asks in the car how much of my headspace
is taken up by creativity. Of the squirrels outside,
I have much to say of their squabbles. A redwing
blackbird flashes by. I tell the squashed sparrow
I’m sorry this happened to you. It is the closest I’ve come
to requiem, a heavy melodic sympathy.
Morgan wrote to me, the card a single parsnip
drawn simply. She says stability feels like it’s
not even an option. I chop a parsnip into my soup,
then a redwing blackbird, the squashed sparrow.
My father texts me. When will I be in? I note
that he no longer refers to there as home.
In the text above, he tells me don’t agonize over
it, sweetheart. In early April, I texted to him
I don’t know what to do. I drop a requiem leaf
into the pot, the flopped ear of a squirrel.
My therapist notes that I’m looking outside.
Are you looking at the runners? My window is
not angled to look at the runners but I do want
to run. The crux of our session, with what can I replace
exercise, the exercise I use to purge my meals. But I am
looking out the window at the squirrels spiraling
up the thin dead tree. I tell her I’m interested
only in squirrel drama these days. Squirrels
have more drama than any animal, she agrees.
Years ago, I stood on a floating dock over a river.
One mallard slept with his head tucked under
a wing. That, I point out, was a stable image
of bearable loneliness. I could bear it. I bear it now.
When did I come apart from myself, I think
as I raise the earbuds in and tie my running shoes.
Listen to my voice, my therapist says. I raise
the earbuds and out I go, scattering the animals.
During the final spring, the frostline
crept back down until it dissipated and
salamanders erupted from the mulch.
I often wanted to go back in time to the moment
before anyone had yet ever loved me.
Did everyone have such a moment? No.
I had such a moment, and so was unlucky,
but face it, too, a kind of luck. For when
I was first loved, I was awake and could
think clearly and remember my experiences.
One day when I was sixteen someone loved me
for the first time, and though it doesn’t matter
who it was, and though that love was fleeting
and also fucked up and damaging, that
I felt it at all was quite remarkable.
How few of us knew what it was like
to go from the bare floor to the bed? So.
I went back to the floor, as life blinked
out but slowly, one comfort at a time,
and I was neither surprised nor hopeful.
ODE TO MY FILING CABINET
sharp edges let me not admit
you are too heavy to move
and took two men to carry
the drawers from one apartment
to the other apartment
It’s been ten years since I added
anything to the “Friends’ Writing”
folder. I keep my paycheck stubs
from all the shit jobs I hated in order
of level of drudgery
My son has yet to start
his terrible work history
nineteen is late enough
to imply I have coddled him
the folder VITAL DOCUMENTS
does not contain his Social Security
card nor does the “SS-KIDS”
his sister’s birth certificate
in quadruplicate his dad’s
death certificate same
REB III – ESTATE – thin papers
for the lawyer I will never pay for – Blue
DENTAL yellow IRS now in my accountant’s
neat packets and its own blown-out
accordion folder branded blessed
and tissue thin W2 the clipping I never
made into collage, the articles
someone was sending scanned
and digitized the Vegetarian Times
clipped recipe the STORE CREDIT
accounts closed the credit reports
the sagging leaden strips
the pendaflex balancing on the beauty
of dull green time-bleached the yellowing
of paper full of acids paper paper paper
Friends’ Weddings Family Lore
SRP initials of friends I thought would be famous
now she lives in the Catskills
remember that time when I looked up your number
posing as a potential employer
they were so innocent there was
no Federal Law against sharing
information that belonged to someone else
Bring in a giant shredder
let the confettifying begin
the rest of life music I never learned
to play the programs from all your concerts
before the kids were born the archives
of a person I do and do not recognize
I’m not the kind of girl who gives up
just like that never any doubt
I would find someone to spend
my life with the papers don’t lie
the papers yield no secrets
paper paper paper paper poof
Not again, she says, when
the game times out, when
the gallon bottoms out, when
the goofy grin shuts down.
Not again–the floorful of nonpareils, staining
my foot blue, green, brightest ochre.
Not again–the faint smell of urine deepens
gets closer the towels hang in the tub
Not again–roll the dice, your turn
don’t waste it–do you even care who wins?
Not again–email the teacher the service coordinator
the doctor the camp director the psychiatrist
the psychologist the parent coordinator the program director
Not again–bundle up the clothes outgrown buy a new
batch a size or two larger remove the name tags
so some smaller girl can use the PJs the Tshirts the yoga pants
the Disney Princess and Snoopy tank tops
Not again–change the sheets, put down absorbent pads meant
to cover a chair and lay it straight across to cover the mattress
in just the right place predict where it will happen
Not again–we took the wrong street and pow we had to do a
three point turn and back out there is no parking there is no
space, no race, twenty minutes late, thirty, forty-five, an hour.
Not again–the fridge is open, crumbs on the floor and empty
takeout containers everywhere toothmarks on the parmesan, the garbage
overflowing, a tub of berries rolling around and squashed
Note again–the ashes the ashes the ashes we all fall down
Not again–the family drawing has four and we are only three
Not again–every notebook, note pad, sketch book, journal,
composition book in sight–even the blank paper from the printer–
taken in possession and covered with spindly-legged dogs
Not again–diaper trod the squish again the smell the smell
the grit wear slippers wear flip flops the floor is covered
again again again
Lula can’t stop talking bout this city
An amalgam of Bad Moms
& all the wig-glam to prove it
like that time we stole the cop’s golf cart
& he didn’t arrest us
because he’d get ribbed or worse
a wishing better a set of broken ribs
when you jumped from the roof
A little brother didn’t even bother
to make it aimed for the ground
A missile of his own purpose
Yellow flowers run along crickside
A man hollers & the hallway rumbles
He’s regretting everything every day
& choice & slide & workaday & lie
& truth & fuckup He’s you & he’s also
your love Your day your choice
your slide your workaday your truth your fuckup
The hole I dug in you I still mean to fill with love, if love can replace what’s robbed. If grubbed earth can be broadcast with enough pips to tree the field. I will open my hands to this work if I can, the cavity I am to the maggots I've sown. Hollow logs I’ve heard invite a hive. This is how you taught me seasons move. In reparation. Without asking. Without complaint. Without knowing if forgiveness will come, the only way it will.
I am eating my way through hell
Sweet avocado, did you know
that soon the world will no longer
have room for you and poof
you will be gone? It feels as if
the sky will go on beyond and beyond
until there is nothing left but holy parents,
a gift we see but don’t until. Sweet avocado,
I am fretting and high and wondering
about sobriety, and the pearly gates on fire,
about how Oprah Winfrey invested in trees
with fruits so she would never go without.
Dear Queer God, if you hear me, send us
a sign, a squishy swish with no pit,
a King oval, a Hail Mary.
I’m having an April
the wind blew the rain
in through the window
& I had to get the mop
The sopping weather
& the goddamn news
Nothing came of it
Not a storm
Not an argument
Not one of us
Ram on the rain scarf, a print I hung
on the wall, a tapestry so crude
a subletter pulled it from the wall
and crumpled it in a drawer.
The image shows a shaggy creature
a grin barking out, a yellow lunar moth
lighting on its hide. Can we describe it
as, can we call the ugly
thing bright tallow against navy blue
a chiaroscuro? When she wrapped it
over her orange curls in
the German rain, my grandma never would
know the dementia coming for her, her body
a degrading web, her throat
forgetting how to swallow even ginger ale,
her favorite golden drink robbed of her.
Under a tree,
her body thick and glorious
under a tree, the rain purled over the ram,
a string so precious over the moth, could she
have felt the hands pinning it up,
the sub-daughter never so young
that lying in the face of danger
surprised her. My grandma
the forger the hoarder the caller
the scientist the mother the girlfriend
the wife the widow. How likely
the sub-daughter sees utility as decorum,
a rain scarf protecting auburn curls
above a brain
that would drown in her golden soda.
Quick to remind us that a moon is any
blunt object orbiting a life-giving
celestial body, indifferent to
that body’s diadem, we soon understood
all was moon, and assembled your moons
but it was your tinders we most regretted
going up in that blaze. It was four-hundred
years of life rooted followed by four-hundred
years of life suspended. Hewn, crafted
on one hand murdered, on the other preserved.