Friday, August 27, 2010

Prayer for the city

For the surface of it,
the palm-read waters and smoothnesses of streets

For the clear light,
when it is clear, and for all the light

For the lines that draw
the cars along 'em, the buses'

airy wail down avenues
heard from an upstairs window

For their roaring
and straining at green lights

For the flesh slips out in August,
glistens, then turtlenecks away for winter

For the virtue of sleep surrounded by humans
For waking, being among them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Prayer for summer nights

As if my mouth opened.
As if there pulsed from it a sound,

like an unwound thread
curling over the waters in this city

and in the air, in the waters
suspended in the air.

As if that sound crashed, receded,
crashed among sleepers

like the first sign of the beloved,
sharpening their dreams to hungry points

waking them openmouthed and grasping.
As if they rose onto their elbows,

then their hands, lips aching forward,
as if that was the way humans

had always recognized each other
in the dark. As if the air disturbed

by that collective gesture, the outlines
of all those rising faces, produced an echo

that I could hear under sweat-soaked covers
and over the buzz of air conditioners in other windows

and all the paraphernalia of sleeplessness
in summer. As if the echo would wrap me up

in the contents of those myriad desires,
like the strange clothes of a returning explorer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ocean Poem #2454678, or Yes, I Did Check Wikipedia To Make Sure "Binnacle" Meant What I Thought It Did

(I don't want to look at you.)
I want to talk about a ship
with all the rigging, and
another without
how on the first, the salt
gets in the lines, and they get stiff,
a little green. The sheets start to tear along the reef bands
no matter what I do. It all goes
side to side, side to side
and does not sink, so it must be sea

On the other ship, the one
without the rigging, Satcom
signals bend crazily off the bridge
but keep hitting the same spots
in the sky, like someone waving one end
of a jump rope tied to a fence.

In this wet
moment I can haul
them both up, find edges
separate each thing from each other thing
float them apart: from the first
a kind of body, ribs, spine,
so much diffused skin and line.
From the second, a universe:
plumbing fixtures, tight systems of bolts and nuts
an engine-galaxy, twitching and impatient.
And it gets bigger, by a hundred hundred things:
the binnacle flies apart, compass needle wheeling
and I'm keeping track of every atom, like iron filings,
like I could write your name in them
and it would always point to you.

But I don't need a compass. I need a translator.
or whatever manual explains how to collapse elaborate
nautical fantasies into, "hi, it's good
to see you," which is the language
I speak when you're around,
cool and receding, an incoherent tide.

Better Human Trap

The better human trap
would be something like a zoo,
a place to go and look at others’ misfortunes
a place to consider the boundary between one’s
self and those misfortunes--bars
or glass? Thick or thin? In this human trap
there’s one door between in and out
and everyone, on both sides, crowds it.

The better human trap
would be a curtain in the evening,
puffing out of a window, as behind it, a person
makes dinner alone
waiting for you, just you. Bench tests have determined
that this is the least-effective human trap; once inside
you will try to escape.

The better human trap
would be a city or another place
where humans live, where they would feel
un-trapped enough to use resources
on raising children, with a horizon all
around, ready to be cinched tight.

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