March 15, 2005

Anatomy of a Fever

A sudden shock stabs
the base of my spine,
and arches me up,
pushes me back,
travels up,
enters my neurons,
crackles outwards.
I am ablaze.

As a corpse
is reanimated
by a billion bolts,
I am
brought to life.

Keenly, I feel
my own edges.

I become aware
of my own skin.

I go from being
a clothed, civil creature
to a naked wanton,
wearing some clothes.



Fall 2003.

Nella fantasia

Ah, you
are so unaware
of you
and me.

One day,
I will whisper to you
all the secrets
that I whisper
to my pen
and you
will be astounded
and touched.

Ah, you
have no idea
that I
have memorized
your lines.

One day,
I will run my lips
across them,
just the way I do
behind my eyelids,
and you
will sigh
and feel bliss.

Ah, you
are so beautiful
because you
aren't.

One day,
I will tell you so,
and you will laugh,
and laugh.



Fall 2003.

March 12, 2005

Werewoman

Between a restless toss
and a sleepless turn,
between a wet dream whimper
and a nightmare moan,

she breathes
she breathes

Between the endless cups of coffee
and the useless mugs of milk,
between my silky, wrinkled bedsheets
and my damp and tingling skin,

she stirs,
she stirs.

Between my late night written lines,
and all my softly spoken lies,
between the heavy pre-dawn silence,
and the muffled midnight cries,

she wakes,
and I
can hear
her

howling,
howling
for release,
for remembrance,
for rebirth.

She sends me
into the streets,
prowling,
searching,
hunting

for release,
for remembrance,
for rebirth,
for her,
for myself.

But,

between the cries of the wolves
and the shrieks of city traffic,
between the fires of the cavewomen
and the red lights of the prostitutes,

far too many lifetimes
have passed. And so,

she weeps,
she weeps,

and lets me
sleep awhile,

between synthetically scented sheets
and chemically crafted sweets,
between pre-programmed, painless choices
and digitally dulcet voices,

between all our civilization
and all our discontent,

until the next full moon.


Spring 2005.

Death by Beauty

In memoriam, Olivia Goldsmith.

Olivia -
Justine -
you weren't broken
by abandonment,
by loneliness,
by poverty
or pain,
but, paradoxically, by
anaesthetic.

Olivia -
Justine -
what were you thinking
the first time
you renamed yourself
after the feminine ideal -
that stained receptacle
of agony -
that passive object
to be fucked
& cut
& beaten.

Olivia -
Justine -
did you betray yourself
or did this world,
which no amount of words
can change,
betray you?

You fought
the fascism of fashion
with potent weapons -
wisdom,
humor,
and a clear-eyed gaze.
You resisted! oh, but then

you succumbed.

Olivia -
Justine -
while you lay
seemingly senseless,
what went through
your fertile female
mind?

Did you lament
the stories
never to be written?

Did you wonder
what your heroines
might say of this?

Or did you finally
feel beautiful enough
to be silent?

I Think of You

When I think of you,
I think of an explorer,
mapping mountains & valleys with
your compass, ever pointing north,
taming jungles with
your sleek machete,
memorizing & memorializing caves with
your faithful pen light.

When I think of you,
I close my eyes, and smell
ink & lead & paper &
unscented candles in the dark,
illuminating
all that you rumpled
in the course of
writing your masterpiece.

When I think of you,
I find myself walking past
crowds of people with your face,
with your name,
but, most assuredly,
without your voice,
and though I stop for some of them,
I think of you.


Fall/Winter 2004.

March 9, 2005

Song of NYC

Give me the noise
and the madness
and the energy
and exuberance
of my home.

Give me buildings
that scrape the sky,
give me crowds
that choke the streets,
give me
nuts & bums &
purple-haired students
& wild-eyed painters
& street performers
& "de la Vega" on the sidewalks.

Give me the songs
of the subway musicians,
of the late night jazz joints,
of the raucous outdoor concerts,
of the noisy indoor plumbing,
of the screeching trains,
of the honking taxis,
of the church hymns,
of the protest chants.

Give me
the lower east
the upper west
the mid-
the down-,
the exec suites,
the artists' lofts,
the dives
and Bemelman's.

Give me
galleries,
graffiti,
sculptures,
architecture,
heaps of garbage,
and the Wall Street Bull
with his big, bronze balls.

Give me my
Great White Way,
my Little Italy,
my filthy subways,
my glittering storefronts,
my peep shows,
my museums,

my fiercely proud, my
fellow men, women,
freaks, assholes, thugs,
rude sons-of-bitches -

all these beloved
souls who share
my home,

for, verily,

I [heart] NY.



Fall 2003.

Love Letter to Nowhere

This is the love letter
that will never be read,
because there is a ten-hour drive
and a lifetime
between us.

This is the love letter
written in blue ink,
because I remember
the sounds of jazz
on certain summer nights,
and your eyes
on certain lazy mornings.

This is the love letter,
written with all the words
I dare not speak out loud,
and all the unintelligible cries
you wrest from my lips.

This is the love letter
I will never send;
it may as well be written
in Egyptian hieroglyphics,
and it has been far too long
since our first exile.

This is the love letter,
scribbled across discarded music paper,
across the truncated staves
of our time together -
but mostly improvised
in the end.



Spring 2005.

February 20, 2005

Galaxy of Letters v.2

Once, our nimble fingers
reached across reality and space
and tangled
in a landscape of our own making.

Once, the flesh was made word,
and our words made our flesh
tremble for one another's
words.

Once, as we spun our verses,
we spun into one another, and
delighted with our self-generated energy,

we made a galaxy of letters.



Winter 2005.

I wonder how many . . .

I wonder how many people in this city
live in furnished rooms.
Late at night when I look out at the buildings
I swear I see a face in every window
looking back at me
and when I turn away
I wonder how many go back to their desks
and write this down.

- Leonard Cohen

February 19, 2005

Paper Lovers

They live, it seems,
all over the world,
and I am their
receptacle.

They pour their
thoughts
inside my
mailbox.
Sometimes, I feel
I'm watching the
Pandora story in reverse.

They sprinkle me
with words
and ignorance
and erudition
and always,
always questions.

Oh, I am no prophetess.
I am only
confused
and unashamed of it.

My paper lovers
seek their kind
of nakedness. I give
it to them freely.

They penetrate me
without cocks
or faces,
with only chaste white paper
as a surrogate

for them
for me.



Summer 2003.

February 18, 2005

Galaxy of Letters

Once, as we spun our verses,
we spun into one another, and
delighted with our self-generated energy,

we made a galaxy of letters.

Once, the flesh was made word,
and our words made our flesh
tremble for one another's
words.

Once, our nimble fingers
reached across reality and space
and tangled
in a landscape of our own making.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But that landscape is gone now,
gone black,
gone white,
just gone,
and I -

I haven't seen the sun in many days.

My eyes are frozen shut,
my hands are numb, my fingers
motionless and silent,

thoroughly tamed,
and I -

I haven't seen you in many days,

because I don't want
you seeing me
like this.

You wouldn't recognize me, anyway.

But sometimes, when I watch
my breaths come out in
labored puffs,
I imagine
they can still
reach you and stir

our galaxy of letters.


Winter 2005.

Cigarette

He says,
"We've got to have a talk."

So I light a cigarette -
a dirty little
nervous habit.

He says
it has been beautiful,

and I smile
because I am an idiot,
and run my tongue across
the menthol tip
of my cigarette.

He says
something about life's paths,
something philosophical,
something that reeks of such bullshit,

I cannot look him in the eye,

so I look instead
at the glowing red tip
of my cigarette,

the tiny red tongue
that licks circles around
the fragile, skin-like paper,
leaving soft gray ash
in its scorched wake.

The ash is like old lace;
it's pretty,
I think irrelevantly,

and he is still talking,
and my cigarette
is still burning down.

He says,
"Things change,
you've changed,
I've changed,"

and I take a gulping drag,
and choke
on the bitter, acrid smoke,

as though it were my first time.

He is talking
about her perfect ass
and perky tits.
Actually,

he is still talking
about life's paths
(at least, he thinks
I think
he is)

while I contemplate
my cigarette's
scorching red tip
and violence,
which is never the answer.

(What was the question again?)

He says,
"Do you know what I mean?"

Does he know what he means?
Because I sure as hell do,

so I nod,
and he looks so relieved,
so relieved.

My hand moves then, and
the pretty, pretty soft gray ash
lands on the floor.
My cigarette's

tiny red swirling tongue
looks vicious now,
and keeps moving downward.

He says,
"It has been beautiful,
and I will always - "

but my cigarette
has reached
the end of its patience

and its tiny red tongue
has come down to my fingers
and even though I had seen it coming
it hurts.

I let it go
with a little cry.



Winter 2005.

glass

have you seen
how glass is made?

how a mountain dissolves
into sand,
how sand is fired,
melted,
and, all liquid heat,
is coaxed
by a skilled mouth
and deft hands
into the shape
a master molds.

malleable, mercurial,
glass is blown
into the most
fantastic forms,

and then,
left to cool,
goes sleek and still,
transparent and fragile,

infinitely breakable.


Fall 2003.

Gypsy

She twists
inside a storm
of her own making.
Her laughter flashes,
her flashing earrings sing,
her singing bracelets beckon
to the unseen spectator,
and her eyes glitter
in the dark.

Her dance
is desperate,
frantic
as she stays
a step ahead
of morning,
of another banishment,
another leavetaking.

The fire flashes
on her hair, her skin,
turning her golden
as her bracelets,
backlights the fluid outline
of her body
against her swirling skirt.
She dances.

She leaps,
the fire leaps,
her thoughts leap faster -
and she knows, someday,
the fire will
be gray ash,
and she will wake,
naked,
weeping,
and alone.



Fall 2003.

Love: A Recipe

Ingredients:
Friendship
Physical attraction
Delusions of closeness (can be gotten from experiences culturally
associated with closeness - i.e., star-gazing together, waking up
together, mutual physical gratification)
Guilt about sex and need to justify it with acceptably sentimental emotions
Socio-cultural compatibility
Force of habit

Directions:
Grind together, while bumping. Add a few tears. Stir in a cauldron.
Let sit, then keep warm. Potion serves two. Garnish with cliches,
premature promises and unfaded flowers. Add salty humor, sour
disposition, sweet nothings and bitter regrets to taste.

Consume. Enjoy. Regurgitate.

Make a new batch.




Fall 2002.

Your Laughter

Your laughter
tumbles up
in lusty, gusty bursts,
deep and rumbling, a little hoarse.
It makes me want
to climb into your chest
and find its very source,
that hidden wellspring of your energy
that I imagine
is as warm and golden
as your skin.

Your laughter
is the sound of life,
from the first
surprised, delighted gasp
to the final, satisfied
little moan.

I love your laughter,
when it trickles
into my ears, and bubbles
down to my throat,
making my fingertips glow transparently
with pure joy,
and spills,
all flushed and joyful
from my lips.




Summer 2004.

Writers

"writers are desperate people and when they stop
being desperate they stop being
writers."

- Charles Bukowski

February 17, 2005

Creation of a Poem

To mix the ink,
I'll take a little spittle,
a little blood, drained from a paper cut,
I'll add a tear or two (probably more),
and from my linens, a few drops of sweat.

To make the quill,
I'll find an extra bone
(the way God did, that time he wrote HIS poem),
I'll hone it gently to a sharpened point,
whittling it with teeth and fingernails.

To make a parchment,
I will only need to strip
down to my naked self. And then,
once I'll have written all of this upon my skin,
there'll be no nakedness, no shame - only a poem.



Summer 2003.

Would

Would
that I were good
and wouldn’t
think these thoughts,
and would
instead
occupy myself
with productive endeavors
and healthy relationships.

Would
that I were good
and would
keep my eyes,
my hands,
my craziness
to myself.

Would
that I were good
and wouldn’t
live inside my head
and would
instead
live fully, richly
and limitedly.

Ah, would
I be as good
if I wouldn’t
be like this?



Fall 2003.

Feminine Advice

(after 'Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem')

"Beware of the man who . . ." - Erica Jong

Beware of the man on the way down
who knows he is on the way down;

when his quiet desperation
grows in volume till it fills his ears
he will grope for your love
like an addict in the dark
gropes through a medicine cabinet,
finding nothing to stop the tremors,
but smashing all he comes across.

You will have to clean the mess.

Beware of the man who is damaged;
he will want to break you down for parts
to mend himself with.

Beware of the man who warns you about himself;
he is only being honest.


Fall 2004.

The Last Time

"Donne-moi ton corps une dernière fois encore." - Gildas Arzel (performed by Garou)

You taste like too much wine
and too many cigarettes
again.

Your hands are shaking again,
and again, you're mumbling
"one last time,
please,
one last time."

The room is tilting again
and I'll have rug burns again tomorrow
because I'm as hopeless as you,
as lonely as you,
as desperate as you,
without you.

And again, I tell myself,
"this is the last time,
the last time."

Tomorrow, I'll return to my other life
again.
Tomorrow, you'll start drowning yourself
again.

And in a week or two, you'll call
again
and I'll come again
and again
and again,

because, for us,
every time is

the last time.

Winter/Spring 2005.

Travels in the Evening

After a conversation with an artist.

Last night, I dreamt
I swam through rings of smoke
and fire,
brushed aside some cobwebs
and a padlock,
and ended up
where Alice feared to tread.

The scent of dust was strong
there, and the scent of lilies
stronger, and stronger still
the scent of burning rosebushes
and dried out riverbeds.

Stories were written on the walls
of alchemists who had no use for gold,
of artists who had no love for beauty,
of great inventors who found no joy
in their own great inventions.

Shapes moved in corners,
sounds shifted in the viscous dark,
and I was afraid.

But gleaming
at the farthest ends
of this place I had entered
uninvited and unseen,
upon an easel made of ancient bones
a painting stood,
still-wet and fragile.

And coming closer,
for a moment,
I thought I recognized
myself.

Winter 2006.

This Silence

This silence
drips from our lips
like wax from a forgotten candle
left to burn - dangerously - alone,

pooling somewhere below
our line of sight.

At first, it is warm and soft -
I absently knead it with my fingers
until it cools and hardens
and turns to dirt.
This silence
swallows up all the words
we ever said to one another.

This silence
is our final conversation.



Summer 2004.

Unbuttoning You

Buttons
in a perfectly
straight row
down
a perfectly
starched shirt;
an assertive tone,
an aloof demeanor -

You.

Elsewhere,
I am
unbuttoning you,
peeling away
the power
blue shirt,
the coolness,
the formalities.

And you
who speak so clearly
and so confidently,
are groaning wordlessly
and shuddering
in my arms.

Later,
you dress
and we notice
one of your
buttons
is missing.

Fall 2003.

Love Poem: To Nihilism and Back

The pillars of reality
will crumble,
and render
me ageless,
you homeless,
and our bodies free
to meet and meld
and melt

into nothing,
and render
me fleshless,
you boneless,
and our souls free
to brightly burn
together

into a fine, pale ash -
it will write our song
with tiny particles on the wind,
rendering
me wordless,
you voiceless,

to be carried, trembling

into the minds of
a homebound one,
an aging other,
rendering

us.

Summer 2004.

Rhythms of the Sun

Last night, I dreamt
that I'd gone back
to where I'd come from,

Where the pulsing of the earth
was clear and strong beneath my feet,
and found its answer in the pulsing of my blood,

Where life was motion, measured
in the beats of my heart
against the wind.

Last night, I dreamt
that you came back for me,
and that together,
we rode bareback on the evening,

and with arms grown long as the road,
we plucked stars out of the sky
and fed them to one another.

Last night, I danced
on a forgotten beach,
my body twisting like a tongue of fire in the dark,
until I found the rhythms of the sun
and fell across the broken strings of your guitar.

When I awoke, there was sand in my hair
and salt on my lips,
and my hands were reaching
for home.

Winter/Spring 2005.

Black Spaghetti

Determined to create something
sophisticated and exotic
and adult,

we filled the kitchen
with dirty pots
and dirty jokes,

with the sharp, strong scent of spices,
and the sharp, strong sense of intimacy

of the sort that can only live
in the kitchen.

We chopped onions
(seasoning them with the inevitable tears),
and shared tomato sauce-smeared kisses,
and licked olive oil
(extra virgin)
off one another's fingers.

Later, tasting
the fruits of our rambunctious labors,
we could not stop smiling,

the night sliding away
between our lips
like black spaghetti.


Winter 2005.