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before the driveway, the road
before the road, the mountain roads, dozens of them, unrailed and
dead steep, twist-turned and eerie quiet. in the summer it’s the
impossible grade full of smoke & beer having injured the metal,
having overheated the animal’s engine, having slid down silt:
tires slide, sneakers, cloud of what’s going to make this easier on
all of us, cloud of don’t pour water directly on the metal of it, spit
a clot & keep going, says up where the engine says down &
somewhere below here the logging roads & somewhere below that
a mile marker & somewhere below that a dirt road copying a creek
bed’s unnatural ridges, there was an animal engine here too, the
rumor goes there was water here, you can stuff stones in your
pockets, you’ll never get them all home.

(place this card both above and below the house)

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Maples opening red like it’s

fall all over. I’m against

reversals because suffrage.

The sky is streaky. Grubby

hands daubing charcoal. Children

though, can’t reach beyond

a kite. When’s the last time anyone’s

seen a kite sans ocean? April has

forsythia but hasn’t figured how

to bring this year’s goods. As

if. What could be good now?

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we weren’t then we were. a teem. a feeling
turned go on no such luminiferous
ether. between us an us we’re inside.
call it forge, call it tend. winged and five eyed
we’re an I of ten thousand. and one. but
home’s not the ground; can’t be split certainly.

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April second

Good Friday

Bird startled at how I adore my old woman face dry mapped throat waterblue eye shrubnest hair Look! I leer into the face of angels middle finger aloft how did cronewitch appear I watched the tomb never slept never shirked that duty or any other age you keening bitch snuck up stole the red river rapids that ran between my legs my plumb my stupid dangling fruit I don’t give a good goddamn for your flesh season your learned or any other wanderlust whose tiny silly face bobs under such a ridiculous hat oh hello sister hello auntie hello grandma wee granny gammy invisible hag HA!HA! I’m keeping all my secrets to myself

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Walking is praying

Stumbling into a feeling that’s not anger

How long can I step this way into love

into a house into an apartment with ease

You can tell by outline Orion never understood Artemis

and by stars I see what all the fuss was about

When our oldest family member died

we had to find a place to store a giant

with a giant’s love for family

and a giant’s anger

From now on this fucking table is going to stay clean

Anger is love steam

Love is human history

Human history is the story of diseases and vaccines

which is a story of control

The presence of trout here in the water indicates purity

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If We Are Meeting, You Better Be On Time

It’s the high pitch for me
of an amusement park ride
scream reach range
to the goldsky, tunnel vision,
into heaven where
flowers in boxes
on my front porch
of my mansion
waits for me.
And everyone I’ve ever loved
who left me
is there to hold my hand
as we admire the blooms,
the slow-stop of blossom burst,
speckled color and full life,
and we sigh one of those good sighs
that feel like the world only lives
sternum-deep, muscle-bound.
If such a place exists,
I will be
so glad
to meet
you there.

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Approaching second childhood

With mouth open, tongue out

The clouds above the ringworld lift

Revealing rows of sharply illuminated bulbs

Through the world’s narrowest telescope

Plural of verb

Wearing a bouquet of primroses

Like the crust of last spring

To make or to find in a period under the worm

Good blood good mood

While balancing on the step stool’s high rung

Aviator with leather helmet and one piece bathing suit

Tchotchkele or memento mori

Caligula or Joan

Just in case

I reach for the owl talon

Hoping I won’t find one

Or hoping I don’t find just one

Pamphlets flutter over haystacks

Improvising a table from deconstructed wardrobe

Radio Free Morning

It’s a mixed bag but a mix of what or a bag of which


I try to tell historical disinformation from misinformation

I’m no inhabitant I only live there

Fair thee well

The fatter, latter voice

Knocks on my window

Wonder who it is

From the cocoon

Everyone comes out different

Astrophel’s asphodels

Mastodons and megafauna

Which ones are the annuals

And which are the perennials

You can say that again

The first two lines 

Of a limerick

Or a nursery rhyme

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It’s the final year of my 30s
and I want to say something like

“Donald Trump became president
and I don’t believe in nostalgia
anymore” or 

    “I got my heart broken 
and survived to live into another life”

“Have I wasted my life living for
so many years in these towns?”

but I’m almost forty, dammit—
aren’t I supposed to be done
with these histrionics?
    Haven’t I, who can’t even make
her way to the end of most novels,
stopped telling stories like this?


I made a mix (trans. “playlist”) in 
every year of my 30s so it’d be easier
to call up ancient feelings—no—
for the love of music—yes—
to prove I could still fall in love
when everyone else clung to the songs
of their teens and twenties.

I’m writing this in a limited edition
green Moleskine with Bob Dylan’s
sunglassed face on the cover, smeary
and Warholian. I’m writing this 
on the first day of a month in which
I know I’ll have to change my life
again. Wanderer, I’ve been wandering.

There it is: she chose me.
The two biggest New York gifts of music
were moving there the summer 
“Empire State of Mind” soared out
of every car stereo, almost cartoonishly, 
and having Cat Power’s “Manhattan” 
come out a few years later.

I feel sure that I was listening to it
on the balcony of the SoHo hotel
where I stayed the night after
getting hitched at the Manhattan
Marriage Bureau, but the internet
tells me the album wasn’t released
until two months later, so what I
must actually be remembering is
the little video I made, balcony view,
“Manhattan” soundtrack, deleted
like so many memories of those years.

“I was married at 30 in Manhattan.”
A trivia fact, exotic and Didionesque,
seeming to belong to someone else’s
life from where I sit here, almost nine
years later (could that be true?) in a
little house on the prairie. (Okay, it’s big
and full of neighbors.) I was divorced
in Brooklyn several years later.

In the unauthorized biography of
Chan Marshall that I checked out from 
the Brooklyn Public Library main branch
in my 30s, I learned that she still kept
her small rent-controlled East Village 
apartment, the one she’d had since 
she first moved to New York.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph
Chan explains, “So everyone’s dead,
the mythological Liberty, the romantic
notion of it,” which is also something 
I was trying to say in Empire Wasted
which is how I ended up borrowing the 
phrase “Liberty in the basement light”
from “Manhattan” as a section title, 
an image that has always evoked for me
a hard-won, squalid bohemian freedom.

In 2012, was I still downloading leaked 
albums before they were released? I log 
into my neglected iTunes to discovered 
that Sun is in my library. Is it possible 
I was playing “Manhattan” on the balcony
at the SoHo hotel? Why does it matter 
so much if it was diegetic or non-diegetic 
sound? Why did I get married when 
things were already going downhill? 
Because I want to know how I was 
accompanied, because I’m a romantic, 
and because I want to try to tell the truth.

“This song has everything: loss, the moon,
the big city, secrets, piano, and dancing,”
I say in the voice of Stefon from SNL.

Rereading the lyrics, “Manhattan” remains
a mystery. I keep listening. It slips away. 
You and your secret life. 
What does it mean to “be” Manhattan?
Why shouldn’t we look at the moon?

For many months or years I thought 
she sang You’ll never leave never leave
instead of never be, and 
although this is not verified by any source
I can find, I never quite un-hear it.

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The eternal quest for justice

Do fixes fix

Was it something I was there for

Were you someone I was here for

Waiting in your knuckle wrinkles

Who will wake up tied to a riot

Walking around birdhouse city

Being watched by the ones who was dishes

What is on trial exactly

The history of women who ordered salads

What did the naysayer say

Where the fuck did all these socks come from

Every Friday night I touch their heads and say this

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“Grace is a word that stings.” Megan Fernandes

When asked if I’ve ever attempted or began the process
resolved to end my life, the decades’ past dandelions throw up

up their heads. Radiant silence. A type of yellow. Her hair.
I could mouth off and hit them all with branches torn in a clearly

violent way, a likeness to hurricanes, a left-rattling subwoofer.
Decade of acid rain. Decade of smog. Of ozone holes and the green

house effect’s definition glaring from the new edition earth science 
textbook. When the stick was a brain that cracked against my head.

I tell the story of the highway. When I stood in front of it like the cartoon
facing real life. The no hands that grabbed me back. The headlights

that might not brake in time. From the top of the highway, on a clear day,
you could see the Manhattan skyline that we called the city. Blinking

needles. The rat incisors of Twin Towers. I ached to be launched there,
but only so I could touch it, pummel the silver line. Nobody was ever

around to guard me like a ghazal. I put a thumb print to the white 
beef fat congealed in the Folger’s can. I pushed down into its sludge. 

The sting of hay grass stooped low in the corral. A story in reverse 
is still a story. AM radio crackling a gray man’s voice. Hands cranking

the wheel left as headlights soaked my figure. The panicked cartwheel 
of the service road opening into a Hess. Green and white candy above us.

Cold butterfinger, a can of Coke, the expressway exhaling beneath us.
Her hair. Italian black. Radio silence. I held my chin up the whole time

every time I threw up. The dandelions resolve to end my life every 
decade I see them in. To carry the branch in my mouth, I keep biting down

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April first

Maundy Thursday

Owl’s racket and god appears
in the low bones of mice
my daughter sews spangles
to her left heel the kitchen clangs
with her ghosts and copper hooves

let’s build a death star behind the fig tree
stitch marigolds into our manes
float along the salt edge
take honey from its gold gold bed

this is a call to voluptuous
Babette the Queen of March rises

in the frog marsh my daughter
dances and dances across the yard
in her wild season

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I know it’s a sparrow but put on my glasses to see it anyway

I know it’s a sparrow but put on my glasses

to see it, anyway, stare at the redbud not knowing

the name but knowing I’ll look it up later

for this poem, this post-Romantic, post-Freudian

poem emerging now from my hopefully

creative and possibly dangerous unconscious

which is the source of my highly-individualized

creative power. What about that Romantic poet

who said that poets should know the names

of plants and birds? I learned French,

sort of, by memorizing Jaques Prévert poems,

though never any of the left- wing populist plays

he made with Groupe Octobre. I buried

my parrot last week and couldn’t remember our

standard, goodnight routine, a seasonal list

poem of recently-sighted birds. The sad context

made me forget, though of course

I think about death every night, but I can’t

function if I think about it too closely when I sing

my parrot or babies to sleep. If I ever speak

at a memorial I will not speak from memory.

But now I remember the poem.

It begins with dabbling ducks and diving ducks,

then migrating and non-migrating shore birds,

then migrating songbirds, then familiar backyard

birds. The finches we’ve seen at the feeder this year

are purple finches, not house finches. No one has ever

described me as pursuing a problem with unbelievable

obstinacy, but “relentless” is one of my favorite

adjectives. Relentless love. Relentless interest.

Whatever. Was it Coleridge who said that

poets should know the names of plants and birds?

Or just flowers and songbirds, specifically?

I think Coleridge wrote about the imagination,

or had feelings about it. Certainly Coleridge had feelings.

I’ve taken my glasses off and I’m tired. The bird

I’m hearing is a sparrow, several. Now a crow. Now

a mockingbird. Now a sparrow, again.

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Anything can happen
That’s the score–gored
into the torso of the tyrant
or assailant as you will or
me–a tantrum in a puffer coat
a tantrum in the parking lot
of the local A & D
the lost year of what gods
unseen in the obscene
labor of status quo tableau
O art and despair–air and dearest
year of what goods again?
Dirty dress of a live burial or institution?
Institution or Immolation?
The burning estate or homunculus?
Bratty vs. rattail
Teleovision vs. cat TV
Cats vs. cyclops
Cyclops vs fly vision
Emily D vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Delusion or choice
Mutual annihilation?
How do you play? Asking
for an austerity complex.
Dear committee, I am currently
getting off on my current levels
of exploitation and would like
to rescind my application.
Find the letter star. Splay
across the page
little spleen of ennui like a sleepless
buck that continues to rut–that
is history fka the wet accumulation of knives
in the hay. Heavy lidded re-enactments
by blade light or shiny teeth
among the ferns and mossy chandeliers?
The point that was not a point at all
was surfaces are full of friends
the invisible livingness
always talking back
the line between heaven
and the underworld not mine
to patrol