Elegy with a Chinese Checkerboard
An old man lifts a lime tree, ashes
fall from his cigarette like asterisks.
He doesn’t look up.
Our forms of bodies and strollers map
into the land. Cement steams against
stucco torsos and unblinking
blades of new sod. We are latched to this
landscape, where trees need
wooden sticks to stand straight, where workers
trim thistle on the trail,
each day working their way westward,
where fields are
aerated into a Chinese checkerboard,
plugs of brown dirt
lost like confetti, like something to
Dear P. XXI
When you wake, your feet will be longer.
You will be interested in the moles and
the dark holes in the pumpkin’s face.
You will point and laugh at the citrus
comedy of its body. You will scream
when I take a rake away, stamp your heels
as if removing snow. No, no, no, no.
I am afraid of your moods, your streaks
I cannot stack. I am afraid of the next
minute, the atomic equivalent of death.
I approach you as I do a cigarette butt
at the park. I am suspicious of you, handle
you by the burnt-out bits, the side
untouched by your sucking lips.
Dear P. XXIII
The sun sends its wires of heat onto your
face, stops on your cheek, coiling into a
present tense of red. I am a hungry bird
that murmurs love, that murmurs more.
When I see red, it is not blood or war. It is
not the spur on the point of fish hooks.
The red here is a tributary towards you.
It is a ruby of lunar impact. A stone of
sixty sides. I want to drink the ruddy rust,
taste your cheek that feels like church
against my lips, your terrestrial material,
the softest my mouth has found—this skin
that dies each year, this sheen that blights,
that barriers me from you.
Dear P. XXIV
The scientific has gone, what’s left—fires
that leap, that suction my love into threads
I cannot collect or control. Frequencies here
have no waveform. Just straight lines
towards. Everything has excavated itself
and everything has altered in the way water
in a pool breaks up light into pieces, in the
way the light is tranced into approximations
and deviations, into eyeless swirls that never
fix. I have born witness to this giant, this lo
ve for you that never leaves, that burrows
laterally and downwards, that imprints on
my skin, the way goggles leave a mark long
after I have taken them off.
Dear P. XXVI
A bench sits, stares out to sea. It says, sit
and feel this here. Another looks at the swamp,
onto the logarithmic sways of thistle. An
oil painting here, a watercolor there, where
the sky moors the sea, where the crane
arches the orchid. We have feeling, but we
are hovelled, told to pass as nice. Let us
pass the bench and its lathed feelings. Let
me bite the sky away from the seam of ocean.
Let me grieve you and play you, irk you and
deter you. Let me have the of of love, the
square root of you. Let us sit atop this cattle
with a hat and pass the yellow ball that could
be the sun or the eye of a camel in the summer.
-all previously published at Blackbird Magazine