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.
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
Say this a conversation about luck. Say just. Say did not purge today.
Say that a purge means more than acid up the throat. Say biked eight miles
say hot yoga say the bend and fold of flesh. Say restriction takes years
and many bodies. Say to restrict restriction requires less restriction, ask
how are you holding up in all of this. Say the woman returns to girl
the same flesh as ever, a curling upward as meat restricts in the pan.
Say moon cannot rinse the body of the brute. Say the toilet’s vinegar
reek dizzies the mind, the race to get to empty, empty taxed and heaved—
it comes so easily. Say a bite mark never bloomed and scarred the hand.
Say then better. Say better is a state of knowledge without evidence. Say
bones press through skin, a removal of the middling. Say interiors
work best when hollowed, a space to sit in blood. Say the veins forest
to the surface, strained, brimming. Say lay down in the road young
and ready to be flattened. Say nobody stopped [ ]. Sucked in belly,
wrapped in plastic, a tree say with tethering. Say tried to midden the I, a
flesh mound, spent shells. Say hotlines, sour teeth, a skull dripping ichor.
Calendar Year—Due 9/16/2019
Mail this voucher with your check or money order payable to the 'United States Treasury.
What bothers you about this school? Some say food, some, mail
confusion. Adjunct rates make up a national average of 49% of this
country’s teaching staff. I consider what I’ll lose with this voucher.
The rate of adjuncts at University of Wisconsin-Madison come with
some good news: only 17% of teaching staff are adjuncts. With your
focus still on numbers, however, a breakdown is required. Check
percentages against quantifiable numbers, I tell my students. Or
at the very least, be mindful that even 1% of prisoners without money
for bail still racks up into the millions. Humanity, we are out of order.
In this community, there is a commitment to building a strong (payable)
long-term instructional team. Seventeen percent, while smaller, is equal to
4,400 adjuncts who have to subsist on pay by the credit hour. With the
incomes of adjunct commensurate with incoming graduate classes, united
only in capitalistic depletion, it is with great misfortunate that unless the states
of their numbers remain even to last year, I’ll send my spit again to the treasury.
Calendar Year—Due 06/17/2019
File only if you are making a payment of estimated tax by check or money order.
When I see it coming, I like a good facefuck. I file
my nails and await the desert mound. I love me only
when someone desires me, the potential hole if
it pleases, open and hot for gagging. I spent you
and you fell curled like a fetus to the bed. Are
you sure about the lavender field up north, making
terror with the mask of terror? I hate purple, a
a contusion flooding light. Admiration means payment,
my mouth spent of such transaction. When I think of
tenderness, I fill with money. Five Thirty-Eight estimated
a 41 to 42% chance of re-election in a good economy, the tax
returns no matter. I will always lose when I compare, so by
your side, I slump gaping on my back, a wet loser. Please check
how soaked I get, a floral breeze moving toward my face or
away. Everyone else told us our kind only care about money.
I stoop to hands and knees, tailbone opening. I wait for my order.
SHELTER IN PLACE
As all vantages, iced with nice, are noosed
loosed random acts of violence and garbage
tied with plastic string – Avoid
microbeads, exfoliate with grit
from spend oyster shells unpearled
split and chowdered, stewed,
bay laurel savory Waverly
Place a hot pizza oven
blast in the back waiting for
my drink, drank, drunk a thunk
a donk a bonk, blameless
boy somebody’s pride and joy
we knew he was different
drive your mama to drink
to the brink tulips waving
in the clink of glasses
girls don’t make passes an art
student splashes ink all around
the temporary tattoo scrapadoo
derring and the mail truck
White Guys on the Lam in Ohio
and no one guns, no one runs
the car is stolen but the bus full of
nuns holding babies in their arms
went off a cliff traps the riff
the rub, 3 men in a tub
again again again the choreography
is not an autobiography nature vs.
biology it’s an organic process
all these dawn hours >> shade receding to your rising blaze
[note: this is a contrapuntal and I tried my best to format it as such!]
Didn’t I tell you about the time
I have no memories
in the closet with the stuffed dalmation
a blanket stained
a cat sleeping on the other side of the door
elastic pants slid to ankles
a brother filled with fluorescent light
doorknob loose of its screws
The house ached with pale pink carpet
and nobody came for me
Wasn’t there something else to re
member: brother, member: mom, please
call about the boy who never left
never clean, the evidence is
Everywhere the sound of blue
clear until it burns
There is a story still I am afraid to tell. I ran from each girl figure
until they returned to memory’s dank. My best friend into the next
into the next. I stole chocolate milk with the first. We beat up stairs
giggling into our clay hands. She loved me with a possession I understood.
Together, we failed. I rimmed my eyes as she sterilized needles. I played
guitar as she pierced the web of her thumb. She wept with hate. Only I
could be hers. Only she could call me halfbreed until her mother slapped
her hard and she screamed, throwing the table. She loved me with a love
that wept with hate. She never went to school. She found money elsewhere,
in supermarket aisles and depots, a seller at times. She prophesied my elitism,
that I would become the New York intellectual who smells orchids in Union
Square. You’ll be that bitch at the store who buys brown eggs. I left her without
ceremony. One move, another. We saw each other each season, a cold settling
in, leather pushed through a septum. Her boyfriend the larper. Her boyfriend
the drunk. He stripped to nothing before me to demonstrate his gift, his fruit
thick and pink and hardening. She laughed a belly laugh as I stood grounded
and afraid. Now they both loved me and wanted me with the love that wept hate.
In the car I swerved lanes panicked, still drunk. I have described these roads
in many poems. I have told the story wrong in order to swallow the yellow
lights of her laughter, her two vole teeth growing vertebral muck. Today I watch
the smallest winged bug travel up and down my chaise lounge, itself atomic
choice. In dreams, she pleads for my return, pulls the empty street from my throat.
Nothing gives me pleasure. Even my dreams ordinary
in the task of being. Lately I’ve trouble with pace, which
has always been a mule in my ear, not intellectual at all.
It is easy to instruct students on how not to be. I say the words
on your screen come from a human, I say They have already thought
60,000 thoughts, and they have given some of those to you. I eat
yogurt and stare into the eyes of two young rabbits out my window.
I have grown so tired. I ask my students, Do you know anyone
who has been ghosted, because the task of being takes work.
I’ve come to understand boundaries through restriction, purge.
Because of my tolerance, the toxin sucked from my lesion tastes
sweet, a tang like semen suns the back of my throat. I get stoned
and work through the high. The young rabbits fuck out my window.
When will each of them die? In an Anne Carson poem, a man scoops
the unborn fetuses out of a dead rabbit, calls them dark apples.
When will difference come? I run until the breeze turns my work
to salt. The townspeople do not see exercise as a purge. I axe up
my brunches, ghost on clean sheets. How lucky, to be human after all.
Some days it doesn’t work
out or in, spilled milk
on the shag rug
chocolate-covered egg leaking yolk
into crumpled foil
soiling the bottom of your purse
the lost mate – socks, earrings,
hook and eye, key and lock
lost lost lost
learn less dog
have you seen Fluffy
Stopping on the way to Orono
we saw the trail sign:
Climbed higher than we
sticking on our feet
stones that stay close
stones far away
stones in a path to lead us home
When my father called local morgues looking for his daughter
I was already part of another life. Blood is not sentient. It moves
as any dumb body of water, a system away. As a cadaver, drained,
I possess a final brilliance. I begged every man to see how smart
I could be. Here I remain, a cute button nose, eyes sunk beneath
lids, puffed with chemical freeze. My father identifies me. Over,
I won’t need to wonder what happens next to me. Someone calls
the rape audacious. No, he talks about the act as an audacity. I let
that man press his hands to my throat, then another, until it feels
like a handkerchief dropping softly from a hook. I don't die then.
Or then. I went on. Stubborn as a mule. The streets bleach with sun
and lead to the last blue corner house. He holds the back of my neck.
I do not dare move. I do not dare move. I do not dare move. I do
not dare move. I do not dare move. I do not dare move. I do not
dare move. I do not dare move. I do not dare move. I do not dare.
On a train I try to place myself. It is two-thousand and eight.
You have just grabbed me by my wrists and thrown me down.
The sidewalk didn’t hurt. No bloody elbow panged. I said please.
I said I did not remember you standing over me gripping my throat.
The One shuttles me up. I, a fool, had smiled to my father, said
I think this is the one. I think this is it. I am a twenty-two heart.
Something below my rib moves me. I believe this is my calling.
The train screeches as I write, Laid down by the rocks, I am told
She loved him very much. To indicate a ribboning voice, italicize.
To emphasize a ribboning point, italicize. When I think devotion—
Andromeda tied to the cliff edge. Perseus never arrives. Soaked arms
Do not destabilize the rock formation. The night after my acceptance
To grad school, I wrote of Andromeda in sweeping verse. Waiting
Is the verb that holds all women upright eight years. The train moves.
In the shower I beat the plaster bloody. I pour whiskey into my open.
I wait. I keep myself small to be thrown from future sedans. I waited.
It is two-thousand nineteen. Andromeda in chains no longer bleeds.
Never one to be interested in the hero’s journey, I bake a cake.
I make a mistake. A blackbird returns to the same patch of straw grass.
It picks and picks and flies away only to return, mechanical, maternal.
In each version, I am myself before you. I have only ever been myself.
SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS
for my loss for your loss of my
loss of my sorry card in the
mail late and sorry this is so late
thoughts and prayers your way
sorry this is loss sorry grief
sorry I am losing it again so sorry
everything is lost sorry I can’t
find your address sorry to bother
you during this time sorry
again so sorry for the loss of
your sorry for so sorry
if you need anything sorry
if there is anything I can do
sorry can’t do that again
so sorry losing is the hardest
sorry master letters dropped
off the map sorry for the
late reply sorry you got lot
on the way sorry I can’t
remember how long it has been
since I was not sorry always
sorry so so sorry and the
loss of your sorry is the
hardest time of all sorry
holidays sorry birthdays
sorry sorry anniversary
sorry memories are all so
very sorry when this you see
remember me sorry