Saturday, February 5, 2011

THE FEVER OF STARS


Before rain, flies cling to the window screen
and the under side of leaves turn up
wide to take on water.
There cometh a shower, the bible says
and a fierce wind will blow.
I can bend simple enough
pass through prism and sky to pull
the blunt force of sun as it strikes a raindrop.
You are refracted light
and I emerge eggshell above blue
reaching and reaching.
The right choice will come to pass
for no one can really see day
until it moves on the horizon
loaded with reasons to keep wholly alive
every nuance outstretched for the fringe
every wonder pressed into a deep brow.
We scream for the stars to come closer
to our avalanche of complacency.
Slow and private, they are on their way.

Absolute (Joshua Tree)




The sun conceives ground


curled north enough


to move stars


longitudes that must


be plod alone.


Each left stroke


ignites summer


swells the sky.


The air


a benediction


of immutable days


questioned.


Calm ignites


transparency.


Wholeness is chosen


then remembered


fluid.


Words lie


past care


altogether


so we are silent


and sacred


and solitary


on the rocks.

YOU ARE MY AIR


Secrets are visible at their tip
curved toward the heart
as stalk bound for water.
We pull back
but seed and root rush out
a swallow becomes a jolt
eventually a pulse
in the dark of ground
hyacinth handed down from mother
to son and every daughter
the dryness of love
the wet of the body
has no choice but to crest
hold in the belly
and wosh in the cold white of lungs.

RECORD OF THE SUN


Angles of light are the song
of a body woven in morning
fire and cord and swollen
white in the air.
We strain to right our vision
against a pink sky
so trees will come into focus
escape prisms that reflect
the thick of day and turn toward
the interclavicular of darkness.
Take care our voices echo off the the lake.
There is still surprise when Earth calls.
One does not arrive simply
but must be pushed in and pulled out
each wave of intention
each shift of eye
mulched between
heartbeat and bone.

RED STALK


Unbearable to watch
the body change.
My yesterday wants
to join the border of you
when we were ordained
the essence of one another
before we understood
many will never find their way
and vague apologies
like I’m sorry to end it like this
or happiness is what I hope for
are dreaded strokes into a tunnel.
You call it the silence of god
with something smacking of pride.
I call it a mind fuck
that obscures the extraordinary
bonds that unite
and set the body in motion.
The beat in the soft of a throat
the high when I feel
a glint of your eye before I see it.
Our familiar is recorded in
each soft and loosed finger
slowly conditioned to let go.

EARN THE RIGHT


The body flies, it spits


Black, polish and water.


Round and round secrets spoon


In the toe of low quarters


The white noise


Of bristle against leather


Heeled and soled, surged and starched


Until the mission is over


Save two scars in the wall of your scalp.


The heart yellows over


Believing that someone will


Take and become truth given.


An inventory of what could be done better


Hangs limp and ineffective.


A pulsing tongue


Waits to take control


Flicks behind teeth


Pinions and coils


To beat to hell


Soft urging, dark grabbing


Pancaked, budded palms


And desire swallowed


As asparagus gone to wood


Stringy and hard and sallow.



GRACE IN ABERDEEN


Sleep comes
vivid and holding
thrust in curves of serration
helpless to decipher
between weed and flower
iron stain or rust.
The cool beneath my pillow
expels river-thick heat
to cypress from jalousie.
Days are reckoned
as laundry strung out
children laughing
and the consideration
of each first gush
that all are called to the wellspring
clumsy and unaware
mid stalks and thorns
and urge(d) to drink.

IN THE HUSH


While you sleep my hand resurrects
questions in limestone and bronze
the scuffle of honeysuckle
at the windowsill is wrapped in pretend.
After-all what do we really claim beyond
the weight of a head on a pillow.
There are times I scream out loud
to fix vocabulary, to tie the light
to anoint a prayer with the unconsciousness of dawn
send off the parts that lie irreverent and alone
obsessed with the refuge of fire.
Every sunrise is the moon in cinders
a finger echoed in the arch of a foot
the dust and ochre of a moth winging.

LEFT OVER


The days strike down
barely held hours
between bed and toilet
anticipate slide of moon
and unpredictable sun.
Cold rooms keep bacteria down
washed and covered with latex
a needle’s slow intercourse
with dry and pallid skin
grabs enough life to undream
rays that dissect night.
There are many days to die
rather than mourn
the loss of extremities
revel in skin and bone
stripped muscle
smooth pussy
still in need
of consummation.

LORD'S PRAYER


The vast hollow where sin ricochets
off the alter is burnt and smudged
on my forehead, an embedded red stone.
Forgive me for bite marks and bruises
I can't remember my teeth
I want to die
want others dead
the scent of the man
in the pew up front is delicious.
And forgive me my trespasses
as I forgive those who condescend.
The woman priest
tilts her head with authority
holds her hands with contrived grace
accents each line with pause as she reads.
Lead us not into the vulgarity of correctness
I promise to abstain from sugar and too much wine.
The children have begun to lie
the best liars never get caught.
If they die or lose their minds on drugs
I will move to Colorado.









DRAGLIN/ DRAG-LION


Earth holds a rough imprint
under patches of green
layers of chap
before prime and crescent
facilitate the pass
of clutch and throttle
topsoil ripped by steel
teeth thrown out
from a giant erection.
Pushback the grass
the hornet’s silence
the huckleberry
hoist out
all available nourishment
drop-swing the bucket
pack the silted pile smooth
chain creeps over the boom
dragline swings smoothly on its pinion
hands grasp levers worn shiny smooth
a lump in my throat
as the big spool begins
to sing back in
the sweet smell of diesel
soaks my hair
every day
the engine spews black
breath glow warmed
plugged pistons
top dead center
bottom dead center
grease
the raiment of a working man
stain that never washes clean
becomes acceptable
in the ratcheted trance
of caterpillar tracks
the tilt and swing
of a mammoth mouth.

PICK A BAIL A COTTON


Ready cotton bloats from skeletons so frail they rattle when heat plunks
the sky. Sounds like a storm when it isn't.
We leave early, before the sun.
His match shoots a thread of light in the dark.
Dirt's packed under my fingernails
even when they look clean
they're jagged and chipped
ruts thick with starch and boil
from the lip of the sac.
I ask obvious questions
like how much an hour and quit time
pull details with my eyes and think
you don't fuckin' know me
every time I feel a long stare
or open my mouth to speak.
A few things come from intuition
like weeds and bugs and snakes
but a ton of cobbed kernels
plucked by suppertime
is earned with time
bent between rows
strapping' a long white worm
over miles of dust.
We work 5 by 5 (twelve hours)
pluck and toss, o lord I can
double the weight with rough pick
double the time with hutch
pick a bail a cotton
slit my wrist on that boll
patch it with waxed paper from my sandwich.

COTTON TWILIGHT


cotton bucks pale through flossed sky
the last light turned out
twists to sepia slow
momentary ringlets that that eat
night's fingers and hedge memory
of the eight year old who bolted
after lightning bugs
who bridged crepuscular and uninterrupted
fixed to death from the first
twist of heart
and I unable
to step out of dusk

SANDPAPER


i saw you on television today


and cried not for loss


but the unrecognizable


sound


of your voice

SEEN AND NOT HEARD


This bed wrought iron tight gloved, brass railed
labor delivered in civil war
chirps like the rats in the trees.
I’m forever bleeding
guilty bride with no goblet
no sister at my side.
There is no freedom in the night
or the drench and chill of early dawn.
Just a noose that swings
and jerks without warning
a truth relentless
seen and not heard.

TEMPERANCE


there was a moment when her face arrived
unconditional and efficient as a pearl
banded with nose and pout
swindled from mother
and the rumor of hair
the innuendo of palpitation
bones sutured erratic
seemed infinitely superior
sapped with ecstasy
raised luminous
contours and hazel
now her eyebrows signal
ooh look in me
I have a secret
perfect stupid
boy’s desire
tits in wife beater spandex
they will return to soft pappy
when the common illness
maternity results
a swollen hourglass
impetuously inked with wide blows
the same coveted interchange as always
my god my god
you knit the skull and heart
the wisp of feet
the chain of phalanges
then lead to the salt marsh
and abandon to winter
without the luxury of impatiens

CAMP


we swipe the folded landfall of new mexico
cure and seal meridians
by candle vase, pot and pan
surround the wind
longing and erect just beyond
the miner's path
we sleep in the tent with mother
hands deep
to each other's knapsacks
staggered ordination silent
our summer late snow
cross sandal-bloom and rose heavy
above the treeline, above the clouds
the rough and large of your hand





THE PERFECT SPECIMAN


Morphine thick nearly passes
for existence this morning
I escape to the 'serenity porch'
to smoke a cigarette
sip a flask
renounce the supposition
of well meaning friends and experts.
A luna moth lands on my shoe
reveals brown eyed wings.
The perfect specimen
for my son's eighth grade bug project.
I try to catch it, but cannot
your brown eyes slide
sideways for Celina
deaf caregiver
the one
you cry for when touched
whose name you know by heart
whose history you lament.
She holds out a blue bottle
raises eyebrows to ask  may I
yes
from the chair I watch
her anoint
hair. shine
eyelids. crack
nose. expel
mouth. chase
breasts. they served you well
you said. loins
loom. The sweetness of cloves
becomes your skin.
Outside I climb the tree
with an empty pickle jar
capture the moth
and wait for the end of breathing.

BREAKFAST FOR TWO


A smell permeates the bedrooM
Of body oil gone rancid
Pillows flooded with saliva
Sheets crusted from slick.
The urge to strip and bleach
Is stupid. All evidence nests
In the ditch of my thighs
It branches on the wire
Of your chest
And the soft between stones.
From bedspread to morning
Dark returns an impassable touch.
Only seed remains
Residual that I imagine to be dying
It is slow to leave my body
Hindered by scotch and dry
Wary of the unequivocal
Questions that kill pride
And urge celibacy.
Truth is a singular hope
To never be near you again.
The promise of desire
The hope for it
Pins a darkness to the sun
That ribbons and curls
Like hemlock in my throat.
I crack eggs into a skillet
And watch dust skip the steam.
Listen to the sizzle
Smell whites cook hard
Long before the yellow
For you who soaks it up
With toast and jam
You who dips his meat in syrup.

THE RULES


As a guide and a warning, I advise you:


Don’t be late to dinner or eat soup from the end of a spoon


When cutting from a wedge of cheese, keep the tip in tact


Keep elbows off the table


Don’t make me come over there


You will not cry


Never use soap to clean cast iron


Get back on that horse


Yes what? Yes sir


Sleep only between dusk and dawn


When I say get it for me, I mean run


When I hit you do not back away or move your body


You are too sensitive


Never expectorate


Do not stare at the furniture


If this car is moving you better get out of the way


When physically injured – you do not need a doctor


Don’t dispute my word


Speak only when spoken to

BLOOD OF MY BLOOD


Your veins
are a labyrinth
of blue and cord
under porcelain
bone and buried
two hundred years
a wedding gift connected
to a capstone bequeathed
for posterity.  Your blood wanders
long and tethered corridors
searching for a heart
a high and distant drum
that heralds a banquet
divine.

THE WOLF WANES


Regard the prolificacy of skin
under hands that move
like quicksand, or air
or the shape of heat
streaming off earth toward the moon.
There must be willingness
to sleep in unclean places
to take water laid on colored rocks.
Lap it up
seep it with your teeth.
Gather milt with fingers
stir it with the cobalt of your eye.
More and more
memorize the suppleness of perineum.
Down…down…down…
unlock the gelid mainspring
brighter than gray
tenser than the sweat of horses.
It is a stupid thing to remember rain
between slow straight eyes and crossing.
I might as well stand in front of a freight train
to make it yield
than resist the slaughter table.
The wolf wanes
in the midst of syncopated cheek bones
our dark sugar song
and the weight of your brow.

BETTER TO THIRST


those who stomp the forest
hope to feel rock
or hear the stopped thump
of wood held petrified
beneath earth
red and cold and crushed
not disappeared
or patched with resin
but strong from waiting
for a deep breath
a trickle more than moist
they do not even know
what they search for

TWELTH SUMMER


I wait for him
each morning crouched over
patches of oil in the drive
striking cap lines with a hammer
while I steal glimpses
and launch concrete chips
accidental to my eyes.
In the house, Grandmama
fills a cooler with ice
and Kool-Aid concentrate
ties string to the handle
so I can loop around my neck
reminds me screw the top level
with a flat hand so the threads stay true.
About noon I flip the rectangle stopper
stick my tongue through the hole
tilt and trickle undiluted
nectar down my throat.
We hike the levy
rip off shirts, shoes
crouch in sludge
hold bottles in the river
and wait for current
to push tadpoles in.

BEHIND DAFFODILS


Our line grows silent and abandoned
Remade with sodden blonde hair
And rustled eyes.
Separation feels permanent
Loneliness will not go away.
Even after children
One never gives over
To death completely.
It takes us
After cakes have been decorated
And little elfin friends have been rationalized.
We can smell mother’s cancer.
I confess I want to punch her in the face
When she holds me and whispers
I will never let you go
But I know I will wail
And scratch eyes
Behind the daffodils she planted
Where she once hid
Easter eggs waxed
With my name.

weight(wait) of tongue


my stomach dishes


clustered calico


red curtained toilet


jerk, jerk silent


my cool voice, my loud desire


o sister you are plume


chiseled with tongue


twisted on flowered sheets


tingle and surge between legs


rocking to Admiral Halsey


under our canopy at midnight

ASSERTATIONS


You
will never be the one
life endows
one stupid starved heart
hungry for sovereignty
hard shook freedom
inherent dedication
reduced heart rise
woven hybrid realities.
You're my biggest disappointment
develops an impression
of thighs on the vinyl back seat
at a drive-in movie
or a sticky velour sofa
in the living den
a preference for inculcation
over shuck and jive, blah-blah-blah
consultation attempts
to heal thy self,
You're too sensitive
sets against learning
the prescribed language
the subtitles of fork and knife
placement at center
so the plate may be taken away.

WITNESS


it is hard not to look
through windows
catch glimpses
of men
at the bathroom sink
women
on the porch
with wine
or a cigarette
families
at supper
the computer
in every different room of the house
alone
listen to
the resonance of voices
that don't know
they are heard
memorize
shape of door latch
flower hue
scent of laundry detergent
know it belongs to them
wonder how it would mix
with my clothes
with my skin
every day
collect secrets
contrive intimacy
feel let in
when not
one of them
knows
my name

BONE DRY


He wears grease crimped gloves
to pour water in the battery
while I pop seatcover bubbles
rocking my feet on a tool piled floor.
He snaps each clamp around
two positive, two negative nipples
then says  crank it. I pop the stick
neutral with the cup of my hand.
When he presses the hood down
lower lip held tight by teeth and tongue
the engine gurgles.
My skirt shifts up my thighs
flutters - like a magnolia loosed
from weeping arms to leafmusk ground.
I peel my legs off the seat
wiggle to adjust my stockings
check lipstick and hair
in a twisted rearview mirror
evening on the precipice of my throat.
When we ride I stretch my arm out the window
and wonder if I might get lift and fly.

THIS BOAT


dug-out from the tulip poplar
where the great-blue heron nested
until i felled her
my twenty-first year
under wet deer skin
embers burned the trunk
and she gave way
to season on winter ground
split in the spring
each end planed to V
prow - the head of a boa
stern - the tail of a fish
her cavity hollowed
by rosin and adze
rubbed smooth with hemlock
set water-tight with fire
expanded with steam
i plot her
deliberately
the curves of her belly glide
over shallows and swells
that we know by heart
and float as
one



MOONPIE COMPROMISE


This life, babycakes, is raspberry skies
with intermittent vitamin C and moon pies
a lunchbox compromise
somewhere between sugarless gum and the coveted candy bar.
Gin makes me cry.
I drink it for the olives, ask for extras
suck the stuffing out before biting in, and imagine
an eyeball popping out of its socket, sliding on my tongue.
My advice--watch the journey
down the twists and turns of gullet.
Step high in tall grass and watch for crickets.
Trap the large ones in a box.
Slide a hook through the middle, cast and watch the bobber
because, honeychile, I know you like your mama:
head under the bed, dreaming it's an oven
strappy black fuck-me pumps tossed in the dust
torn fish-net stockings shoved in one toe.
You're toast unless you sharpen those edges
unless you cut something besides your thin wrists.

EMBEDDED IN THE DELTA


We follow the river
black feeder of earth
for miles on the levee.
The decent is long to white houses
that rise from mist and green
ignorant of applianced yards
the tilt of dreams.
I can not see paint peel
but want to sit on the porch and sip
ice laced coca cola, suck corn and snap peas
have not forgotten the pits
and crotches that hang the line
still claim the quiet of morning
laid flat in all directions.
The year that patties came up
to the edge of our bougainvilleas
we grew sluggish from it's gases
indifferent to it's vermin.
We waited on the stoop
with a twelve gauge
and shot at moccasins
our respect unreturned
folded into the dirt
passed down in the quicks of nails
not by right but by surrender.





MARSHMALLOWS AND MARRIAGE


In the distance there are only mountains
the hope of sky
rising from earth.
Enough to distract
from the weight of money
the constant pressure
of flesh, the vice
around my frontal lobe
that obliterates
all useful thought
all want of laughter.
Deliberation squeezes
every morsel from the marrow of my bones.
Forced words fester
until they are expelled
away from people
away from noise
away from you.
Toward the aspens
in a field of grass
long gold stalks swish in waves.
The wind carries our children's laughter
from a brushfire where marshmallows roast
each fluffy white bulb aflame.
Blow them out
lick gooey black scabs off of sticks
and always call out for more.

MAD MAN WAITING


Grit blew into my pores
so I quit dusting and became
the desert. Mountains scream
silent before wind and sand
chime a rooftop mantra:
I miss you anyway
I love you because.
Under the porch cover
I lean back to watch
Davis Mountains, purple
aberrations against bluest sky.
I will come to you
not for pleasantries or coffee
not to look into your eyes and cry
but to swoop and gather
my snatch, my pelt.
Currents shift tiers of hue
all vibrance dulls - again silence
the tin smell of rain.
A drop hits the red vinyl chair.
Watch it roll and stain
the white matte vein.

MANGOS AND MILES


My body is set to abandon bearing
an unholy emerging of woman to girl.
There are two types of mangoes.
The rounder one, with orange
swirled skin is sweet and melts
a nut-butter taste on the lips.
Most long yellow mangoes
can be bitter and tough
and draw the mouth dry
as an early persimmon.
My prayers are not fit
for God's ears, I want him
even though I know
heat contours his hollows,
where I reveled before truth.
After two days on the counter
a mango is ready to peel
taut skin from peachy flesh.
Cradle it in the hand
slice meat laterally from seed
hold it to the mouth, suck it in
taste globules explode
sour to sweet, lick fingers
and wash them utterly clean.

IRISES IN THE WARM SPOT


When one is accustomed to land and moves over the same spot time after time, you can detect temperature changes in regular spaces. There is a warm spot on our farm, where I feel the energy pull against me. The old home stood there. One cannot see a trace, but I can because of the thick lines of irises that bloom from the greening, in tight rows that L, to form a blue print of the old foundation. The bulbs never bulk the former house line, but expand laterally and contain themselves in shadows.


Rows of wild bulbs in a field, to conjure a wanting woman on hands and knees, separating pregnant hostas and pruning hydrangeas, with hands of expectation. Her eyes beckon for something more. In thread worn dress and apron, she plants in search for solace.


Last year, I went to collect bulbs and cuttings. The irises were deep purple, licked with gold from decades of burial in rich Arkansas farm land. I wondered if an element of beauty would be lost in the uproot, but no.

PAUL


Grease and yellow and flake
print your front door
and your mother
whispers in the bedroom.
When you let me in
the locust in my middle
sheds it’s skin -
a brittle and dry fiberglass mold
a firecracker spent
premature on Independence Day.
You teach me
to pick ticks off
one at a time.
Line them up
stab and squeeze blood out.
You pull my hangnail with your teeth
and tell about your dad
who came home drunk and pissed
on the living room floor.
Last night my father
called you a punk
and I know
I won’t stop now
even if I want to.

DIRT IS EARTH


From the kitchen I watch Red


work the turnip patch with Holly.


She leans against his chest


and pulls bulbs out of earth.


I peel an orange and lick


rind cheese from my fingers


absorb the diesel and tide of his khakis


the random cowlicks of his hair.


Wanting is a palm print on my collar


a thumb in the divot of my neck.


On the stove, greens ripple over to the floor


waves of potliquor swell my tongue.


I do not turn away


but use Mama's white linen napkins


to swab the murk with the sole of my shoe.

DIAMONDBACKS


She’s a blanched rendition of him
sand beside black diamonds and gold
duplicates his pleats
rattle to rattle, scale to scale
sleek and callow as a rests on a spine.
One by one vertebrae recoil
plump with venom, fermented years
inside a glass box. The drip drip
of condensate, slow
torture when the vapor pipe spews.
I tap with my nail, trace
a fracture to assuage pressure.
The reptiles lay static on rock,
under a heat lamp while I study
their flexible exterior
the illusion of silken skin
frozen amid merging colors
an ascending serpent rainbow.
Her body gleans, subdues his splendor,
his cold blanket of protection.

A PREFERENCE FOR HORSEFLESH


Silence disturbs him now, it ekes with hush-hush voices
of family that pretend
to respect, but do not.
He remembers
the horses scattered before she was trampled.
He can hear himself scream
stand down the cattle
see them run crosswise
through barbed-wire
hoof by hoof, he ruminates
knows more of animals and land.
Hoof by hoof he solders wild things
more predictable than flesh
easier than conversation
where details dull
unlike strips of leather
wound in his hand
or the stark smell
of animal under a hot brand.

Southern Slumber


Midsummer
hatches rows of tomatoes,
tangerine and full and ready.
They wait for rain.
The moon saunters
to their curvature,
through a stream of brushfire
smoke and honeysuckle beads.
Tree frogs swell to their cadence.
Can you feel the rushing breeze?
It is warm and woos her
like ether.
Crisp sheets slap midnight skin.
She dives into the fire of the mind.

SWOLLEN


"Like a rider on a steed that flies forward, we drop the reins before the infinite, we modern men, like semi-barbarians -- and reach our bliss only where we are most -- in danger." Nietzsche


I.


When Daddy’s wheels glide off asphalt
onto dust ruts that connect
leg by leg at fence and cattle guard
I sit crusted in dirt and sweat.
He says idleness spoils a child.
Bend over and grab your ankles.
I will not flinch as the handle of his hoe
slices my thighs and back
like a straight wind off the pasture.
I am not there, but on the edge of a hill
eating dewberries, until my tongue is swollen.
A colt approaches with his head down.
I trace the blaze on his face
with a finger, circle the flesh of his nose
soft and white and lined in pink.


II.


When a tree tumbles
the earth will absorb its weight
tension reverberates, then dissipates.
I _can_not_
absorb desire, born of him
hunger for hands with no callus
tolerate a heart
tempered in the city.
Shards of light cast
on sheets that swathed
the flat of his belly
when he slept beside me.
My palms search the bed
random as roses spill off the trellis
where lavender grew last year.


III.


At dusk vellum drops
over the hide of my blue-roan appaloosa.
He becomes jade worn long
the abyss of sea.
His back is a wave that I ride
straddled in the trough between
swells of withers and croup.
When he breaks into sycamores
I drop the reins -- close my eyes
twist fingers into his mane
rest on the pulse of his neck.
This heart flutter, his body surge
a rush of wind through my hair
the froth and scent of horseflesh
wine to a mouth tired of water.

_home_


slow swim through pea soup air
morning coffee
sacrifice
voices reverb through my eyes


last year the silver service tarnished
while he hid in the pantry eating poptarts
then watched tv, sucking his thumb
and quit playing Heart and Soul on the piano


the heartbeat faded, now they live alone
even when she is there

Followers