She stands in a field like a silk tent
the ropes taught around her body and arms
dragging her into the ground, if not for her legs
stubborn trunks, columns into the soft earth
and you can feel the strain on her neck
just by glancing or walking past
The sun heats what she keeps inside
kernels and seeds, love and malice
they bubble and pop in the heat
rising out of her, begging to break free
bitter salt on the lips of those who have ears to hear
If I asked her to set her chains free
would she leave her burdens with me
or bury herself farther in the ground?
I ran my fingers along the tent wall
down her side, tracing her navel and her spine
and I felt the ropes pull farther into the soil
like a wind were galling against her mind
and her desires were a sail lifting her from the ground
wrapping the ropes tighter around her throat
What if I were to take up the ax lain at her feet?
Would she be set free?
Kiss me, you’re beautiful. These are truly the last days.
(a Reflection on Godspeed You! Black Emperor's F#A# infinity)
The train through the window was a muffled weeping
with the rain scratching on the glass
like the whispers of a vinyl record.
I sat in this tub room for an hour yesterday,
the passengers knocking incessantly;
a desperate boy who had to pee, a woman who swore I had drowned.
I refused to answer because I had none,
other than to rest in the water that couldn’t cover my body.
The water had soaked the hair on my legs and I could feel it
weigh down my knees as they stood out of the miniature tub,
like volcanic mountains among pacific waves.
I sat my book on the toilet’s rim and set my arms in the water.
The hair of my arm caught bubbles of air
like droplets of polystyrene dew on an artificial flower.
The water was warm like my brazen skin
and I was reminded of you again.
If you were a flower would you be a lilac?
Some say they represent a first love.
Others claim youthful innocence.
Yes, I had a love once before, but she was no lilac.
She was a cherry blossom. Transient and ephemeral.
Knowing nothing of love but a simple naiveté,
like a child who longs for God’s attention.
God is buried in a book, sitting on the toilet’s edge
anxious to turn every page and discover the next chapter
God is buried in the bagpipe player’s chanter
as he drones from a cabin down the hall
God is buried in the sewage of the train
as it crosses the South African border
expecting the passengers to be able to sleep
until the destination has arrived
We will be crushed, you and I
like two pennies laid on the rail
laying face to face as our tales fade
into the discourse that keeps us one,
ending where we'd begun.
Somewhere in Tibet a baby is crying.
Her father lay to waste under Olympic coliseums
and the fervor of dreams of fame and wealth.
Somewhere in Vienna a woman is drowning
in a pool of vomit and spit, her stockings strewn about her face
like a holy handkerchief, fishnet prints on her cheek.
The complaints of the homeless are a muted cello
in the cellar of an Italian winery. The catacombs echo
a resilient, dampened satire, a plot-less minstrel show;
improvisations of the beggar laying on a park bench,
cheating death under the same stars that guard this border.
We’re not so safe, you and I.
We are afraid.
The moon in the trees
was like crinkled cellophane,
filtering the light in a camera lens,
watching the young musician
as he took the artist’s hand,
in a spotlight under moonlit sky,
as they leaned against his beaten subcompact
in a parking lot behind a church,
watching the cars pass on the interstate,
with the windows cracked behind them
to hear the stereo.
She wore her heart on a chain,
like a millstone around her neck,
and a light rain began to fall
from cloudless skies,
as she looked at him and said,
Holding your hand is letting go of this weight,
and placed the necklace in his palm.
In the drizzling rain,
beside a fallen sycamore,
they swayed in time to the music:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…
Since then her words have been a cymbal,
ringing in reverse,
a crescendo with every stroke,
constantly building into something more,
rolling off her tongue like pennies down a slide
in a park where children play in the sun
with no mind for the shape of the stars,
or what tomorrow leaves on their doorstep.