Three Poems

Lumen

We see a sign that says “Here is the future home
of Building X” and sitting in the grass, our terrier

 

ran to chase an olive-colored lizard who darted
toward the pond, under the live-oak’s vines, six

 

overturned turtle shells, hardened and stripped
of their flesh and still, we wanted to take them back

 

to the house and rinse them off — to save or just
to wonder how their desires met the pond,

 

how Building X would feel when the contractors
find the skins where our snakes went back to sleep.

 

Stay a while and read to me. Does the serpent
ever sleep? What is her fiction underneath the eyes?

 

Will the servant dine on eggs or will she give up food,
resolve an anorexia of space within the inward

 

of the mind? In her egomania, will she slip through
a corridor whose torn prints scrap the world to parenthesis?

 

But we are mammalian, not built but heaved into
hair and milk. Mixing mustard gas with blood

 

we happenstance, plan, and think perhaps from
air to a concrete slab — there is no going back.

 

The serpent’s hole must fill with wet slumped weeds, our
calloused hands must grow outside the mind, irregular

 

as tumors grow from that wilted cell.
Blind lines demarcate stars, and states and maps.

Ode to the Adventure Writer

I carry sixteen passports and know eight languages
just like Sallah in
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
who sticks his thumb into a Peruvian pan flute and
emerges from the airliner as
postmodern as Giovanni Versace, who,
even though killed by a serial killer
remains permanently scared by his
sister’s over-tanned face and really bad hair.

 

Throwing a date up into the air
and waiting for the Spider Monkey to catch it
with his diminutive hand
is the least of your problems. Besides, that might
not even be the movie and you’re the best
actress they’ve got for the sequel up until now.
So, put that Eddie Bauer garb on now and get out there!
You’ve got emails to write between
your assignments on who the King of the Crocs
really was and what went wrong
at the Coca-Cola plant in Western Siberia.

 

It’s tough to be shuttled off of your own
narrative. When the writer deems you unworthy of
your wildest dreams involving dung beetles
and wildebeests, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi
about the revolving doors of an agricultural revolution
finding young Indy permanently convulsing
on the set, microphone between the male breasts.

 

We need his double. Get her quick.
Just a bit before Grunge hit sung on the tip of
the boom-cha-cha-boom Viper Room’s tongue.


Tokyo Elegy for Zach over Okonomiyaki
for Zackary Hanson

They took all his books today, the Beckett
and the Joyce, scrubbed the rings

 

underneath his empty coffee cups, boxed
them up as if stains

 

were portable. Tokyo seems like an interesting place
to give up — to wave the white

 

flag from the tallest building, construct
a continent from that. My iridescent earrings

 

whooshed the artificial air-conditioning of the room
where synapses zing, zoom

 

and spring like kidney beans in a yellowing jar
of water without the flowers. I couldn’t stay, his mother

 

couldn’t draw a breath and now I know what mother
means: the child clings to her metallic nipple.

 

Today oak wide, I walked oak’s breadth from here to
California (home) where the ocean gurgles, shore froths

 

ripples white pages to salt on skin. And how earth troubles!
The dead hiccup dirt and milk-white branches

 

only hurt the living so it’s the inverse of the hiccup
after all and we just stare motionless like the tree.

 

The mother will fly back to wherever she’s from — Minnesota
or out west where there will be something short

 

of language to cradle the tongue where language
retrieves its pink lungs of snow and air.

 

But what they didn’t find. He had a cut-out of Beckett
on the file cabinet with a hand-written quote I couldn’t bring

 

myself to read. I think of Bangladesh or Caracas
where fistfuls of babies are born of seed each instant,

 

mothers heavy with unfolding maps inside their blackened pupils,
and in one zap, that backward leap of the irretrievable,

 

the star planted in Voltaire’s garden grows
or dies unbroken within or out its blue surroundings.

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