TSM 168

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?

The Sunday Muse

TSM 166

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

The Sunday Muse

TSM 165

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.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 164

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

The Sunday Muse

TSM 163

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

The Sunday Muse

TSM 162

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.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 160

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
the loss.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 157

Spring – what a comedian! 
warms up on stage,
daffodils crack like a joke
through gaps in the pavement.

We wait for it –
but today's punch line
a slagging, obscene wind –
the crowd boos.

Gardens are a three-ring spectacle –
clown cars of tulips fill the planters,
roses snap their whips
in hoops of flame.

Soon the flying trapeze
and magic act of Summer –
'til then I rest my head
in the jaws of tiger lilies.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 156

Narrator:    qbit, yours truly, marking his morning rounds of the salt marsh
Chorus:      A pair of steel-rimmed spectacles

Lightning cracks one hundred years of sky –
The faraway docks of Gothenburg 
		                                                   are made of stone, made of stone
                                                                  its boats are moored to iron rings
So lightning goes to ground
		                                                          comes around, comes around
                                                                     and ground returns to lightning
Finally then at sea, mornings
among the deck hands calling 
		                                                        back and forth, back and forth
Gulls suspended off the bow where you stood,
fly neither forward nor back,
		                                       waves are waves are waves are waves
A century's wind holding them in place –
over the harbor I watch them marking time
		                                    neither sky nor water have that answer

I turn from the ocean to a path of hard bounty –
stone and sand held out to you,
simple dirt floor of the world
		                                                this was known, this was known
Poems in your journal untranslatable, yet 
I carry them with me still,
and mine, a stranger has put to wind 
of foreign tongues
		          Iceland come, Croatia come, Kurdistan come, and on
		            to the East, to the West, North wind, the Southerlies

Heirloom flowers that grow from gristle and tendon
		                                                 blow like seeds, blow like seeds
                                                                                  from across the ocean

Could you have known then,
Could you have known

one day my hands 
would be so cold?

The Sunday Muse