More dead stuff now it's those crabs with eighteen eyeballs – skyballs on stalks, periscope glass-eyed Mary's, body parts litter the beach like cracked faces looking back from the sand I shake my claw at the sky, defiant old man still skittering sideways through life and you let go my hand, slip into the tide a fish – school away – sunlight echoing off your laughter, your voice receding in sonar pings Because I said it was time to leave this place, return to the city, reverse migration of the gannets – streaming in flights back to their roosts in the tiny rock warrens of Manhattan Searching for you from above the water, my wingtips brush the tops of the waves hoping you feel my touch like cool sheets drawn back from your shoulders. I dive, transform, but you are not fooled by my clownfish act, my doll-fish face a lethal disguise – how I would pull you from the safety of the sea and leave us both fighting for breath. If I fail us, then return me here. When at dawn the dogs come to leap in the waves and devour the broken promises of crabs, do not deny their pleasure – leave them to roll in my ashes.
Your hips the road trip rock skip hip-hop refrain of the sea 40 years our wild ride, side by miles sliding by the passing time on wide open roads Until here the sand-path ends in beach plum kingdoms taste on your lips slipsliding needs Speeding curves my mind has the bends brain wave ocean staves octaves higher and higher Like rose hips winding trellises tethered to the crux of you, communion of the journey's Madness that heat rises, your wide-brimmed laughter at the speed of light When my whammy bar transmission went in gale-force winds we watch the crash the curl listen now to the metal seas how you drive me to distraction
You squinch your face as if I pulled your nose like a knob opening the drawer of cities – that sliding memory where you junked it all – toy cabs honking, rubber-band commuters, loose screws and nuts out on the avenues, our noodle soup of take-out menus – metropolis errata you'd whisked and slammed, then locked the door behind us. Now walking along the harbor, the sea lies flat and grey, shorebirds motionless, even the sand quiet, the dog's scented crossword of seaweed and crabs, we hear the rain moving towards us, the surface of the water starting to rattle like a box of cracker jacks whistling through the air at Yankee stadium – the bleachers, the barker, the crowds, the crack of a bat, lightning, memory, buildings falling like a game of Jenga from the back of the closet, apartments that slide out from under us, our plans tumbling down, the rain over the sea tumbling down, your forgiveness of me that we must go back now, comes tumbling down until again the bric-a-brac streets, again jumbled jars of hours and days, nickeled and dimed – can you hand me those pliers my love? The ones that pull teeth when the sirens wake us anon at 3AM?
Beatbox rain riffs on the hull Belowdecks, we lie together, listen – afloat on sleep-tight caulk and lapstrake dreams – you, my storm anchor
*A Nantucket Sleighride: 7 syllable “Harpoon”, followed by a 25 syllable “Rope”.
All along it was just a typo – Shakespeare wrote "put your nose to the whetstone," it was really wet stone – fluidity and hardness as one – water & earth keen (their pals air & fire high in the cheap seats) – which explains this morning cutting my foot on a razor clam, the waves stropping mother calcium until honed and shaving the beach of its seaweed beard Chorus of Stone: Schist, Breccia, Shale Chorus of Water: Sliptide, necessary words snake like rivers past your tongue How pushing my nose ever harder into the future never sharpened my focus but the world giving way like a parting flood – each day standing on the high-dive platform of the bathroom shower, looking down into an empty pool – shocked by cold spray breaking, a rain of hard water from spigots cranked to no surrender Chorus of Stone: False eyes are made from glass and agate Chorus of Water: Return to the sea as a walking fish Always awake to the grind, the drip that percolates and filters earth-coffee-tygers-eye brown through eons of dream limestone, washing away the strata until nothing left but fossils, residue, and silt – yet another to-go cup, to-go, to going-going-gone high-kick Rockette fuel – the world balanced on the edge of our noses Chorus of Stone: Hammer, pick, dynamite Chorus of Water: Bloodstream, velocity, knife
Even Charon on the grift –
pennies in the eyes to die
were fool's gold –
no more scrimping off deadbeats,
no hustling poor-mouth shades
in their scarecrow burial suits:
The Lethe now full Disney,
theme park’d thrills and chills –
the Daredevil, the Hellfire, the Screamer –
"Look ma! No hands!"
Folks can't get enough.
Grab a BeelzeBurgerTM with cheese.
One more time, pretty please?
Lucifer's Crash Cars, the Dirt Nap Fun House –
"Step right up!" – midway shooting galleries
with rapid-fire, drop clip nightclubs –
and over here: nine-layer Inferno Sundaes,
sno-cones cold and blue as lips.
When night falls, take the River Ride.
Premium death wishes
and first class cabins on the boat,
or just fly over private jet –
enjoy casket-strength bourbon
chilled with whisky bones.
Oh Miyata, Miyata my love,
you can't take it with you, no.
I've called for your car,
and filled your marble suite with roses.
Your chauffeur holds his cap out
for a tip.
I'm so sorry, your purse is empty –
the white one you never used
from the bottom dresser drawer.
The driver will take a kiss in lieu –
Your mouth, a burnt offering.
Your eyes, payment in ash.
Throwing a clay
is how you stick your
in the world's muddy
Yeah, smash it down
grind it in and let the earth
you're a weird little angry
There you go, that feels
now right? Scrap it all and start
just like poems, better luck next
So here goes: I pound it
and scrape in a gyre of
with my unclipped finger
welcome now please the
to drop its beak down a record
and caw, claw us all back
to kingdom come
Trio for Cello
(Musician Conspicuously Absent)
The Bow I am high-strung of horsehair, racehorse-quivering, all nerves in the gate, this quarter-horse no quarter nor quarter note but eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, galloping sixty-fourths furlong over furlong into a split finish – curry me with favor or I will buck and whinny across your course of notes The Strings Yes, yes, I hear you say catgut is passé, yet you want purr and yowl, and when plucked hear a lion provoked – then lay your finger lightly on my neck, grimalkin vibrato or black cat magic might be yours, become a familiar – would you trade your soul for this taut beauty? The Cello My ribs were bent in heat on hard forms, my chest carved spruce as if the jackknife of lovers on my bark were not enough, love's idea chiseled by steel deeper and rounder until you say this shape will carry song, this will make a moan for two lying under the branches
She said to me: "your ode to the moon is a bird pecking frantically at light in a dirty puddle – futile but for its shit on the pavement, which was at least warmer and brighter, than anything you had to say." And I turned the words over in my hand – what I had imagined was a sparrow – was indeed without life, its fluttering not a heartbeat nor untested wings, but the wind blowing scraps of fortune cookie tropes from the empty nest of my pages. The terrible sound that followed – like endless boxcars empty of thought rattling across the plains – the sky a million points of darkness as locusts of Haiku descended, ravaging and leaving only stubble in their wake.
Fun Facts in today's paper,
an obituary from 125 years ago –
one Lottie Porte , 21,
"for whom the Angel of Death
has brought her spirit welcome release."
I think yes, that is it, exactly,
no soft "passing" –
when I go, leave me to a winged avenger
with her flaming sword,
my mortal coil severed at a stroke.
Do not then write about me gently –
leave my shadow spiked
on the sharp hands of midnight,
my last hours and minutes
spear tips pointed to the sky.
Thank you Lottie, may you rest in peace,
you lead me to the gate
where a language of dying swings –
leave me now to mourn and grieve