alegorie

i found three allegories in my cupboard last night, 

while i was looking for a midnight snack,

and i ate one, and for a week i had similar dreams.

adam

the euphoria of ondi ahman settled on me like a mixture of mist and sunlight that soothed my blood with effervescent callings. / to present my chest to a gallery of trees showing them that my heart was open to roots. / oh the paradox of purity: touch it and you die, touched and it dies: god. i cannot capture an untouched nature, except through a glancing mirror or glancing in the mirror.

opening prayer

god’s throat, smite me. I 

left my son in the river. I 

came back and he 

is missing in the eddies.

 

I confess I 

regret: my brother’s teeth— I 

shouldn’t have pulled them 

ouy yankingly. my mother’s hair — when 

she said classic, I 

was thinking greek. my wife’s heart — we 

set it out in the sun to

dry. I 

let it crack.

 

o, gullet of god, I 

have seen you roll adam’s apples.

 

I was gesturing ordinances underwater. I 

swam sacred strokes . left . right . left

my son in the river . dive .resurface.left.right.stroke.shore.shake.

 

divine esophogus, you understand hallways, don’t

you. you understand the constrictions and suck of culverts. when

I picked up the bible, I read a verse that said,

verily, verily, thou shalt leave thy son upon the 

brow of an ox, upon the shelf of a river,

and he shall bow at the rising sun, crying abba,

abba, your hand is slipping from mine. 

 

god, when I 

swallow, my ears crack.

holyghost

I am the sound of your mother

biting your father’s ear. after

he smiles, she says, dan,

I sex you. after

he laughs and you, you 

you swoolled at the 

simple over-hertz. youare not used 

to such frequencies, proximities, shakings in 

theair. youhave never felt the sultry

syrup of slippery teeth onyourears, let 

alone the quickened blood 

betweenyourmotherandfather.

youhave never felt the sex 

that made you since the sex 

made you eleven years ago, on 

a broken mattress, turning and turning 

inside the ear, like the holy ghost 

filling your bodywithblood.

some cathedral haiku

bye.altar

    my votive candle

    dimmed . snuffed . extinguished like cain

    wax no longer wicked.

 

corbel:

    angel silhouettes .

    awful.like gargoyles there

    standing in shadow. 

 

sconce:

    candles isolated

    a congregation of warmth

    hardly a fireplace.

 

arcade:

    prayers full of sighs .

    sighs are just gasps in reverse.

    wind walks through the door.

 

altar rails:

    black parishioners

    pray to jesus and mary

    in all their palor

sweater

to     run a mile as a blank sweater,     to

      be for a body stitched cotton noumenon, as though 

every fiber is hesitant sneeze,

     to     phenomenon—     breathing in fog, 

 

      minding heat inside skin

inside me inside minding inside 

skin outside—      to

      stripped and flung into a 

 

ditch-watered forest,

      to      lame by heavy

rain,     leafed with 

gutter slugs, splattered with

 

gravel—interfiber 

gritted: mattered to matter:

as though everything 

were      sweater.

directions to the garden of eden

excavate your gravesite by hand

with a pale friend named eve at dawn

in a garden, forest, mountain edge,

without any clothing in sight.

secure oxygen mask, catheter,

and needle for nutrients through your shoulder.

you don’t need a doctor, just a friend or some savior

to monitor your vitals, pale fluids and airway.

chest to knees, buttocks to heels

feet to soil—rooted in the hole,

eve buries you handful of clod by clod.

enjoy the sensation of soil on your teeth,

the thump of lumps of clay and silt against your back,

the freedom of silence, and learn that innocence

is the color of soil, that sterility is better

underground, that you will never feel the sunset

or the crying of a child, that you are alive,

alone, and completely surrounded by god.

one thich, to thich

i must be, at the very least, successful. at the very least, an empty glass of milk, the leftover wade in a river, a small untied knot, a brother left right at home, a grimace ungrimmed.

 

must be

left behind for others to talk about and find, the hummingbird the about, and find the note that says “I was always this serious,” about and find his posture cracked by the wind, about and find the the glass spread in a perfect arc, the body that left itself in the snow, no snow-angel or struggle at all.

 

must be a mysterious gift, an unopened fox, a doorbell ditch, an unseen grass blade’s meow in the night light, the woman who starved to death in front of a feast with a note addressed “dear children …”

 

must be a sacrifice, so beautiful the giver is among the missers. the tasted never gets a taste, that is taste-chaste, as he said “give these people freedom or I will hand myself to the ocean and let the ocean determine my fate.” 

 

must be risky, one shot, shoot straight, read by a man who hadn’t cared about beauty until now.

 

must be everything needs to fall into place, even yourself; you won’t have much control after a certain point of no return. 

 

must be a suicide and not a murder:

s - “don’t fuck with me.”

m - “I can’t.”

s - “don’t even try to then.”

m - “look. it’s not rape if we are both sterile.”

 

must be discovered immediately or eventually, since the more time passes, the more we feel the weight of the uncovering, the moon to say the least.  

 

must be a wanting to tell that is never told, a present that never futures, a plum we didn’t eat.

 

must be intentional, like the man who initiated his career as an accountant with a note that said “this is my suicide” and then, slowly, he let the numbers kill him over the period of just short of a lifetime. 

 

must be consistent such as one puzzle with three missing pieces and a memory of the box, not three puzzles mixed together with no memory.

 

must hint at hope. like a tiny ember that only breathes in your periphery, like a glint of a passing car, like the annulled marriage, like blindly feeling the face of an abstract idea.

 

must jump from the bridge for the both of them, will jump at his own and others request, will make it beautiful for himself and others, will leave the tragedy as a monument, will hope for a monument as small a one bolt from that bridge with his name on its head, will hope, as he falls, they won’t find his head in the river.

thomas sees the unborn

one. 

entering the jetway to france . thomas is head.struck

    by an apple . lobbed by a past.lover

        he thought ..holy. .. 

and fuzzy ghost.flowers slid . dimmed . fetched.

    thomas slumped on the floor . the stewardess signaling

        ..turn his body. .. half.there.he

    felt a body turn.

 

three. 

    listen closely . she said .

        this is the third.mother to give birth to you .

    oh god . he waking.said . hand on his.rib .

        where is she … he said.

 

two. 

thomas finally visits a tiny village of mannequins . which only

    live in his periphery: small pidgeons . 

            quiet children

        he.s never known.always.lost.

heavily father,

I can’t imagine myself 

swimming. I can’t imagine myself 

“having a good time” at the beach.

    you know,

    the way people sway their hips and their words—

 

god, I fear you’ve 

licked my back and the saliva will never dry.

    you’ve pressed your thumb on my eye 

    socket—all I can see are bruises.

 

I met a silent 

man, a poem of solid brick.

    his sister could hear her 

    voice paint-crack on 

    him, her hair on his shoulder.

 

O, I fear 

    you are a humid god.

 

swallows—the ones that make 

clay enclosures and their shiz never dries—built their nest 

on my chest, that stuck through a wall-hole.

    I confess, after the eggs hatched, I slowly 

    stepped away from that wall.

father, felt a womb for a change.

 

god, I’ve seen

    the wet sky swell with 

green, heard my mother yell 

    get inside. later I ran 

back outside, looked at 

the tornado and said, “god, 

    if you’re in there, I am scared of you.”

 

so, lord, I’ve been 

    mapping bodies of water along my street

    seeing the faces of moses, elias, jeremiah and job

    letting my children play with prophet faces in the gutter

    bathing only from rain-filled, grandma-filled, ornithologist-filled birdbaths 

        and then, finally, imagining myself

    rushing the waves of the ocean

    breaking my back against the motion

    saying “damn you! damn you, jesus!”

    fearing that you can’t hear my anger, lord,

        that you only hear my happy prayers

        that you won’t let me burst upon you.

elijah

    when my mother

asked my brother

    other ways to bother water

                        

    we together bashed the (weather) water         with

 

our        water (weather)-beaten hands a-clapping

                    

slapping brethren under (heaven) water

    by the river slowly raging like an infant

crying softly as a mother without

 

    water (weather) weighing softly for our father

    falling in a raging river laughing

    under water.

 

home town paper - page one

i’ve decided to write a bit about boxcar studios. it’s a rather magical place, and i don’t use the term magical lightly. two words really sum up the place: anachronistic and anatopic. but these are somewhat dry words, and i suppose you will get a sense of their meaning as time progresses. sometimes i want to believe that the progression of time is just the sedimentation of words. 

today i walked into boxcar surprised to find the room transformed. i shouldn’t be surprised by this any more. i mean i shouldn’t be surprised at my own surprise, because the transformation of the space is really what makes boxcar a magical place. it’s really what makes the space feel alive, like its churning, like there are people in there with minds as wild and unruly as the room is. just a week ago the space was set up to be a sort of large dinner table, almost in a norman rockwellian way, with a long table and a managerie of folks gathered around. but today it looked more like an abandoned apartment, or a librarian’s feverish dream. there were shelves with books, and furniture that was huddled in the middle of the room. i like to think the furniture was cold, and so they all came together with their backs to each other, keeping their eyes peeled for wolves. it is rather cold in the space, and there’s something unnerving about that in our world of comfortable temperatures. it reminds me the the pink-nosed moments i had as a child, digging holes in the snow, or that one night i went into the backyard while it snowed and i layed down on the ground and pretended i was either dying or succumbing to nature, but what’s the difference between those two, really. 

i had a several hours long conversation with graham brown and rick curtiss, about an upcoming show we are working on (and i sheepishly use the term we, only because they are the main brain-fathers of the project, and they have agreed to allow me to ride their coattails as they stroll through their imagined world that unfolds the more steps they take). at one point kelly larsen came walked by with his son gus. kelly no doubt was working on some paintings. the other night i spoke with him and he was preparing for a group show at the UMOCA. later chase henson walked by to his studio. i think i noticed on facebook that he was working on illustrating a set of guards for the king, and now i feel that i must ask him about this new project of his. previously he had been working on a series of indian goddesses, i think specifically hindu. jake buntjer came in with his son cohen, and, after he disappeared into his studio, oakley burst onto my lap with the full candor of a dog’s unabated excitement. i am somewhat mystified at my own humanity when i am overwhelmed with oakley’s doggish enthusiasm. she really is a puppy, one that wants to play. i can’t think of any temperment that she feels other than her playful one. i am often stopped in wonder … well is it wonder that stops me. i sometimes wonder if wonder is more like a fog, more like sunlight, more like a specific alignment of the room and the things within the room, maybe a clicking of the scenery, where the wind is just so windy, and the trees are just so much trees that the body feels uneasy, alarmed, like the air is kicked out of the mind’s lungs and it begins to gasp, it begins to feel the sudden need to feel the vacuum of the mind with the forces of the imagination. i wonder if the mind needs to have some element of thought in it at all times, much like the lungs has a cycle of air, or the heart has a cycle of blood. i’m almost sure of it. i’m almost now a disciple of this idea: that the mind must have some sort of cycle of thoughts that flow in and out, and that if we still our minds like we hold our breathe, we will feel the fear of drowning from the inside out.

for the river is not cold to the quite

when i have been stalled in the night by stars
as the exterior portion
of my lungs has become winter, i breathe with my heart

held to the lower back of the sky, now laden
with small curtains of fragrances: pinyon pine, frozen thistle, juniper, honey mesquite, and the morning that is learning its night for now,
and now i am walking
inside to wash my face before bed.

when will the river meet me in my dreams, wash me, wear me, teach me what a smooth thing is. and when will the chorus
of a supernova burst fall
just the right gentle
on my ears. when will my feet be warm enough to fall
asleep. i am more

than the sleep walking mute, fluteless, breathless, lost. i am the gravity of love spun
out of control
now a man
asleep again. 

 

 

*(written for stuart wheeler on his birthday)

before i lock the door at night

i do not miss it. i do not miss my mother’s milk. i do not miss the childhood i imagined i would have. perhaps childhood is not disappointing because we never really had much time to imagine it before it happens, we only have barely enough time to imagine it while it happens - and we moonlight as adults - in our spare moments and with our spare change (sparely changing) we vivify out future - we paint it on the small window just behind our forehead (during dinner while everyone else is talking and nobody realizes you are alone) there you sit and imagine the dinners you will make and have on your own - and one day you are making and having dinner on your own and you remember your now nostalgice future and you weep into the spaghetti sauce as it sends its aroma into your eyes. why are you leaning over the sauce like this. the way you stir the sauce changes, the way you would normally set down the spoon, the way you put away the leftovers, the way you brush your teeth, you end up sitting on the toilet a little longer before bed, you linger between the first and the second sock coming off and in bed your eyes are open instead of closed and you’re wondering when you started closing the window at night - who taught you to lock the doors at night or did you just come to that conclusion on your own and why is that a conclusion at all. what else am i missing.

teatime before bed

is this really the life that i am after. am i really in the life i want. i want. i want - there are several men at my door they have been taking turns knocking but i feel guilty. i feel ashamed that i have been caught enjoying my day. i am sure they are here to ask me what i have done with my time, what i have done with myself. they are now peering in through the windows. i know them. we grew up together. they once laughed at how i had dressed at school. now they are in the house. i am hiding in plain sight but they are still looking for me. they have searched the piano bench and couch but i am likely to be in my house. i am likely to see them when they see me. i don’t think they will see me with my back turned to them. i want them to love me. i want them to find me like they used to find me - with smiles on, and now i understand what heaven is, why people dream of it, why they hope for it after they die. now they are feeling my body. but i don’t think they have found me yet. i don’t think they understand that i am really just coming to understand myself, like when i look in the mirror and i say - god, god do you hear me, can’t you see that i am in need here - and god says to me - of course i was never here, i was just here for you to think about but i am not the hugging kind of guy. you understand don’t you - and i do understand. i understand exactly what god has said to me as the men who are looking for me, as the men who have come to find me begin to speak to me, begin to have a conversation with me as they still try to find me. but i know they haven’t found me yet. they are still trying so hard to find me in the conversation they are having with me about how we imagine we have parents who are proud of us, who like us and like what we have chosen to do with our lives, how we pretend to have parents like this because it gives us someone to please, someone to show our accomplishments to, and we all laugh that we have some, have graduated from imagining friends to imagining parents, and one man says he loves his imaginary parents, but he really misses his real ones who died in a fire several years ago, and how he loves how he can control the faces of his parents now, how he can say they are in heaven now, and they come to his baseball games and look down on him and they are so proud of him - and we all nod our heads and agree - yes - this is very poignant love - isn’t it wonderful and i wave goodbye to the men and they thank me for inviting them over and as i close the door, in the brief moment before the door clicks shut, i imagine they have not found me like this.

a city literally made of books:

the roads are paved in books, and when it rains the city swells. the kitchen table is ripe with novels, and a man at one moment pulls at the spines that line his freezer, peeling back a frozen page to read "she was always in love. she knew her death was near, but she did not care..." and the man kept peeling back his freezer as it thawed and then gave way to a hole and he finished the novel and went shopping. but his cart was also peeling and he pulled a page off that said "no one should die like this marshall. you know it. i know it. even the goddamned squirrels won't touch his body, won't look him in the dead face. if the continents ..." and he kept reading, stopped somewhere in the bread aisle, leaned his head on a loaf like a pillow and was at rest on the nine-grain wheat. and just above him was a man on the roof repairing a leak, he was cutting back the pages, he had carried his packet of shingles and for the second time in his life he stopped to read one when it fell into place so perfectly, when the word mother gleamed at him he pulled it out of the hole he was patching and read of the mother of mirrors, the woman who gave birth to you seeing yourself, that person who reflects the world when she sits by the river of images. she is walking on the water heavy with the first mirror inside her. the water is glass and the rocks are the backing, and she is gazing at the vulva, she can feel the water shudder, she does not know if it is a boy or a girl. she does not know that it is a mirror. and the repairman pulls back to look at the sky, to realize the stars are just coming out and his sight is failing him, that the sun is below the horizon, that on cold mornings he falls back asleep after waking up, the call back behind the mirror too strong to push against, that to be smothered beneath the eyelids is what reminds him most of being born.