Sacrament

How everyone
Every once in a while
Must sit in a room
At a subway station in a shop
Or next to a homeless man on a corner

(The one that yells at you as you pass by SO ANGRY that
Everyone is too scared to drop into​ his cup
For fear of reckoning for fear
Of him calling you WHITE GIRL calling you WARM IN THAT JACKET
Because HE’S NOT WORTH TALKING TO
I KNOW I DON’T DESERVE THOUGHTS he said yesterday)

How sometimes you have to just stand beside a man like that and
Think of stars
And dusty planets

How huge we are for being so rare
So absolutely incredible
This whole thing
Isn’t there a god? Shouldn’t there be?

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How absolutely fraught

How absolutely fraught everything is.
Nothing
I mean— I couldn’t make a strong case for life if you asked me to.
And poetry- fuck. How dare we write it. The little thing.
What bubbling words do we think carry
Why tape wings to flecks why spin a seed to see if it flies? It
mostly doesn’t fly. I’m throwing balls of mud over hedges. This isn’t worth anyone’s time
But what is
if not some stars
because they’re out tonight in Boston and they aren’t always.
and there’s something about my tiredness blurs the light through my eyelashes
and I’m noticing the thickness of the air.
I remember watching a video of Maya Angelou. She cried.
I cried with her. It’s all nothing.
The world doesn’t need us but we need us, and damn a sky’s better
with a few quiet stars.

Dammit, Al.

Fuck
This.
It was a gray and sideways day and I was fine
And the radio was skipping into some sort of language:
And — allegations – and — sexual —, Al…
Damn. We’re done for.

And I forgot what I’d been hoping for.
I was driving through Upstate New York and it was cold as fuck
And now Al,
Like almost everyone, has done this.
I know I claim to have some goddamn facility with language
But I’m not scripting. It’s not fine.

She and she and she and she and she aren’t fine
And she’s fighting for whatever else we all else are fighting for
But damn I didn’t think we’d too our side too would pull that sort of slippage
My side too could hurt someone too could maybe not fuck,
But hurt; are they all like this?
I thought you were a good one, Al.

I had so much faith that you weren’t broken, Al.
But somehow it makes it so much less fine
That you, too, were fine doing this
That there are women you won’t stand up for
Because we needed you standing kindly we needed you in the conversation FUCK
We needed you it’s your language.

It’s your language.
These are your letters, it’s your place after all,
And you were the one not afraid to say “Fuck,”
And call them out on all the shit that wasn’t just fine
And you were the one I was waiting for
You were the one that was supposed to stop this

But you didn’t stop this.
For all your learning, you got lost in speaking your dumb language.
That’s all you will be known for.
You let us down, Al.
In your walking of that line,
You just didn’t give enough of a fuck.

Even all this fucking garbage, Al,
And all this manhandling of language to slide behind and redefine and redefine and redefine,
I’m mad most that you now hesitate.
It’s awful, but it’s not gray.
Fuck off for fuck’s sake.

November Happened Again

I.

The air is dark, the cold is dark, and there is the threat of ice tonight. There aren’t angels
In Boston. Or if there are, they’ve got their heads down against winter.
People or angels walk like horses pulling cabled streetcars or like streetcars.
There’s a dirty sidewalk and some leaves have come from the trees left standing.
On one of those intersections— call it something and Newbury—
Nobody’s wearing gloves. Their heads are all bare. Cars rock back too early for green.
Down that way is the water and the grass, probably dying. Maybe if the cold comes tonight
As hard as they say, the ticks will die.
The mares get them worst on the softest flesh below their hind legs. Horrible
Scabs on warm secret teats, so unexposed like the creases where teddy bears don’t wear.
I’ve been checking under my fingernails for little black ones. Worst is when they pop before you pull them.
They say Lyme doesn’t show for a couple of months, so it’s a matter of time.

II.

The barn manager loads a rake in a wheelbarrow. He’s full of conversation.
You know where they come from right?
I’m running my hands down the gray’s leg, feeling her surface for
bumps, feeling her cannon for heat. Hoping the flecks are compact, hard, unfilled. Hoping her
Cannon is cool, slim, unswollen.
Ticks? My hands travel up to her girth (scabby) then to her chest.
You know the government made them? In labs? You know that?
On the base of her neck, I pin one between my nail and finger. Her left ear is on me, but she is still.
I can hear the prick. I see Capocha’s ear twitch.
I flick the leggy pink body onto cold cement, Oh really?
And there’s the damn head still buried. My hands keep searching.

III.

They call it sleep; it’s actually hiding. There aren’t angels in Boston.
How the hell did we let this one happen?

On Changing

The light faded or was blocked and in the evenness I saw the yellow in your leaves. How wonderful you change. As if
Each leaf, each strand of leaf on leafy stalk decides, alone, completely: Now, it is time. Not like other trees, ones who start at the top, like
They’ve been toasted. Or ones where one branch, maybe strongest, maybe dying, goes orange from the source. You
With flapping arms and shaggy head have chosen to speckle in your little way. I am dazzled.

Oh, Virginia

“Even the horses, had they been blind, could have heard the hum of London in the distance; and the drivers, dozing, yet saw through half shut eyes the fiery gauze of the eternally burning city.” – Virginia Woolf, The Years

Oh, Virginia,
It is your city and in it I’m spinning
Like smoke or breath or air in cold—
Hot things that burst in wet wind or cold water. Take me into your hands
And squeeze me like fireplace bellows as I breathe,
Like a poet. Like a drunk.

Like you, I’ll grab the city with two hands and chew it until I’m drunk—
Feed me, Virginia:
You know what it’s like to see a city breathe
And you’ve touched the Serpentine and you’ve sent it spinning,
Dirty water less dirty back then. Even up to your hands
I’m sure you never felt the cold

Or if you did feel the cold
You stayed in the cold, numbing until you were drunk,
Feeling the magic in your hands
Until you couldn’t, Virginia.
Behind your eyes a world was spinning
And all you could do was breathe.

And all I can do is breathe.
With gritted teeth I was fighting the cold,
But when I followed those spinning
Streets through London, lost in the pavement, drunk,
I’m sure I found where you lived, Virginia.
It was dirty and it was flat up to the street and I touched the gray wall with my hands

And your industrial soot, covering my hands,
Made me feel like I could find a way to breathe
The way that you breathed, Virginia.
Your home and the day were cold
But between the two, I’m sure they could turn someone like you into a drunk.
A city street so tall so white so wonderfully morbid, it sent my mind spinning.

And, spinning,
My mind dug its hands
Into the explosive world you made of England, drunk
And filled with cavalry officers and parlor games and old boys’ songs that you learned to breathe
And learned to exhale with absolute exhilaration—warm air pushed out from cold—
Why did you ever let yourself stop breathing, Virginia? How could you?

From spinning claustrophobia you took everything and made it breathe.
You took in your tender hands a city in all its dirt and all its cold.
You fed it, filled it, until it was drunk and warm. You made it speak, Virginia.

Mold

Conjure something up, then,
Reach your hands to the back of your skull and grasp it, uproot it,
Put something just in front of you hummingbirding there
Let it eddy upon itself, swarm into itself, let it take form like a flock in wind.
What is it? Something small enough to fit in a fist, soft enough to refigure.
Ball it up and float it just there to look at. It is something of art. Something. Anything
Of art. Scrape your mindfingers along frames of the National Gallery, break that vase
On your knee and look at the shard. Squeeze your eyes and forge a monument.
No. None of these will float. None of these will hover enough to pour words over—
To cast in this copper. To break open. Art, dipped in flaking plaster, plaster
Smoothed, plaster filled, copper cooled, and there— There is art. It begins
Shining, becomes smooth, becomes dimensional, becomes unsettling and inaccurate.
Oxidizes, decays, presses on the ground beneath it. Pick it up.
Spin it. Throw it. Put a plaque above it. Break a window with it.
What was this art? It is its copper imitation. It has sharp edges from imperfect imprinting
It almost has an echo of that original shape. I couldn’t catch the shimmering thing
So I grip something else, completely.