Friday, August 31, 2012

Miller's Chapel

"Generally, the age of a cave can't be determined directly because the cave itself is an empty space."
-Oregon Caves tour guide

We populate our blindness
with nervous laughter, shuffle
our feet on unseen ground.

Somewhere a bat discerns
our shapes by listening.
You clutch my hand, moored

to the safe harbor of palms
and fingers as we are asked
to hold a collective breath.

Listen: dark like this presses
on your open eyes, your chest
sings out to it. Your body

contains this absence––all
bodies contain some light-
less core. Beyond the blood

that pulses in our ears: water
drops on stone like pecked
cheeks, wind from the lungs

of cathedrals built by paring
away. The sweat on our palms
could fill a crevice, carve a river,

raise a pillar someplace else
if given time. Bless the empty
spaces we could make––

I let go, and wave goodbye
knowing you cannot see
my hand. Later, driving home,

we hold our breath against
the walls of freeway tunnels
to keep the mountains aloft.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Non Finito I

"Never before had works of art so clearly revealed the process that made them."
Jeremy Angier


When you die, you leave
dishes on the counter
you swore you'd wash

tomorrow. Or is it 'you
had sworn'? Tasks like that
become past tense right

in the middle of things.
For something so definite,
everything is half finished.

I imagine Donatello knew
this, left his works non
––a woman's face,

pensive, praying, perhaps
for hands instead of
the unhewn stumps

he left her; a wrestler,
struggling ankle- and wrist-
deep in the stone slab

of his uncarved opponent––
the suggestive power
of the incomplete.

The crumpled ghosts
of your dirty laundry.
Last song on the stereo, un-

rewound cassette tape
playing six seconds
of static. Not just the dishes.

The dustless circles
on the counter once
we washed them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 12: Untitled (because I am lazy in the face of the apocalypse)

You tell me how long it will take
for the Sears Tower to crumble
in on itself like a star. Water will
be our undoing. You tell me

the pillars of bridges will stand
long after their roads have fallen,
but dead gods are no good
to anyone. Corn will shrink

to the size of a finger bone. The word
"bone" will mean nothing. Grass
will cover the streets ankle, hip,
waist-high––we measure the world

by our bodies and without them
the world still grows. Our untouched
oases––nature preserves like
fenced-in jewels––holding

the key to before in after. You say
the stars will again be nameless.

Friday, April 06, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 6: The Ongoing Search for Truth

I'm told the average person tells
four lies a day. One thousand
four hundred and sixty lies
a year. The most common:

I'm fine/alright/okay. Second:
I'm sorry. The third is: I know.
You can understand the problem
of collecting this data, like taking

at face value the unseen second
and third hearts of the octopus,
the dreams of an infant not yet
born. Invasive (of medical procedures):

involving the introduction of instruments
or other objects into the body or body
cavities. From Latin: Invadere (see invade).

We cannot always break things open.

I will be an uncle next month,
my brother's first child. They called
him Little Sprout, then Big Sprout,
then just Sprout. We outgrow

most things given to us.
When he is older, and capable
of speech, I will not ask him
if he remembers his dreams.

I will ask how he is doing.
He will say he is fine. I will
say that I know

Thursday, April 05, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 5: Apocalypse Pow [fragment]

Entire flocks of turkeys
dropped dead that summer
out by the Air Force base.

Heart attacks. Who knew fear
lived beneath the breastbone?
But without our association

of explosions to progress, I suppose
test flight sonic booms would sound
a lot like the end of the world.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 3: My House is Your House

Rayne painted bricks onto the drywall
of her rented room in the basement,

then vines on the bricks, a city behind
that. When the washer and dryer

chattered and the water heater
hissed and groaned it sounded

like somewhere far off where she ended
up running to. We painted a lot

those days, footprints on the ceiling,
names and dates and sold the house

that way, gallons of paint in the garage
the original shade of each room

somewhere in the stacks. Look for
the drip-dried runs down the lip

of each sealed mouth. Break one open
with a hammer and chisel and

I'll bet it's still wet inside.
Whitewash everything and wonder

what we whitewashed to get here.
Cleaning out the attic, we found

a squirrel, hollow and flat and––
like a drum: the skin between

his mummified ribs and limbs.
I was six, no, seven. Our brother

held it aloft like a trophy, wanted
to make it talk, cracked its tail off

accidentally and we all felt cursed,
saw our pupils as black stones

at the bottom of every puddle.
In the basement the cat's foot-

prints were indelible in fresh
concrete, dried sharp enough

to snag socks or skin long
after the cat had died. I don't know

why we never fixed that. Maybe
the same reason we sold the house

without repaving the front walk
where our names and ages were.

They're gone too, without us
doing a thing about it.

There is always someone following you,
marring your footprints with their own.

Monday, April 02, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 2: [Fragment]

Crouched behind the mandolin,
tail twitching from under the body
of a guitar precariously leaned
against the arm of the couch,
our cat hunts a felt mouse over
and over again. It's dead I say
over the lip of a bottle. Kill it again.
And she does. This kind of certainty.
How the face resides in the marble
block, already smirking. How every
stone holds a face, a hand. How
we all await the chisel, the claw.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 1: Disembodied

The telephone
has told me that
you are dead

and apologizes
for bearing bad news.
I think it's nice

to give the television
a break from being
death's mouthpiece,

but do not say so.
I say Thank you,
and then thank you,

and then goodbye.

The first telegram
read What hath
God wrought?

and I think of the few
men gathered
at the rail depot,

looking at one-
another, benefactors
to this ghostly message,

knowing there to be
a man on the other end
and doubting still.

Tonight the telephone
will not stop apologizing
for my loss,

the radio crooning
that every little thing
will be alright
in voices

I am convinced exist
nowhere but in
the object itself.