Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Poetry, the Body

Write bare bones;
make the skeleton dance.

Then add flesh, remembering
that we are simple machines,
hinges, levers, pulleys, joints;

wrap them gently with something
scarred and beautiful. Skin holds
every memory. Touch it, beautiful
and ugly both. Wrap them gently.

The blood should flow unseen,
present and powerful. if it must
bleed, let it do so enough to run
a vivid stroke, then scab, knit,
and scar; remembered, smooth.

Then peel. First skin from muscle;
this is not the dry skin of an onion.
It sticks, clings. Strip the elegant
from the mechanical in ragged lines.

Slabs of muscle slip easier
from bone. Cut the strings, let
them dangle, unburdened,

write bones like windchimes
on a breezeless day.

Friday, December 18, 2009


1. The driver's booming voice

I am the only one to exit

When buses are off duty
but still have passengers
the light up sign
says "deposito"

I am
like sand

2. There is still a two-
hour lunch break,
from times when lunch
meant family, kissing
your children hello, three
courses, four glasses
of wine to get through
the evening shift,
and back again.

Now lunch means
standing outside
your closed down shop,
wandering, cursing,
cigarettes, the news,
the ocean, four
glasses of wine
to get through
the evening shift.

There are no children.
The population
is shrinking.

3. A man fishing.
Four sidelong glances.

Two nods,
one in greeting
one in farewell.

An hour conversing
with the waves.

No fish caught.
Horizon, lightning.

A cigarette.
Stairs into the sea.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Bones are Set (revision)

Our bones that once
stacked tightly, now
are set with pins
and plates against
each other.

The desire to break
apart again
is staunched,
as bleeding,
by pressure:

These nails
keep us steady,
but drive through us; we
occasionally splinter
with the blows.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

To Vanish:

On the day that Craig Arnold disappeared
rain was falling in Portland, and the radio
informed us that he had not returned
to the remote japanese village from which
he had departed to hike around a volcano.
The spot was 30 seconds long. The search
continued for three days, then was given up.
A scrap of clothing was found by a tourist
three weeks later, on the lip of the caldera.

In all likelihood Mr. Arnold's bones
were swallowed by the underbrush
but there is a chance that he has joined
the ranks of vanished souls whose
disappearances raise little suspicion,
whose post-mortem sightings will not
be claimed. No tabloids will list "the top five
most likely places to spot Craig Arnold."

(1. The volcano of Kuchinoerabujima, walking
the rim, looking for the scrap of shirt
left as a guide to find home.)

At most, the radio might run another 30 seconds
of commemoration after a frantic call
is forwarded to the local news.

(2. A sculpture museum, hiding among
the statues of Persephone, eyeing
the marble pomegranate hungrily.)

The family will be called,
relatives nearby contacted,
his name will be spoken again.

(3. Vegas)

The sightings are never the same,
always from afar, and usually
far-fetched enough to be true.

(4. Hitchhiking down the autobahn with a sign
that says "poetry or bust!" Everyone swears
they saw someone else pick him up.)

And so we wait to hear where
he will resurface. And slowly
his bones disappear.

(5. A small used bookstore in some big city
where everyone knows the meaning of "ekphrasis"
and tells you that every poet eventually vanishes.)