There is jazz here and orange light. There is leather
distressed wood faces lit by blue white
a black voice
low and rough broken gritty
Rough hands clench,
incline toward heroism.
But it is now quiet. The disruption ushered out
And the students of the city relax
on their Kant, Foucault,
because there is no insanity here but
one man dirtied by streets.
There is coffee without agitation orange light blue light
Disguised as a man in a coffee shop, he balances himself
With a coffee in everyone’s corner.
His hat is on. He
has been given something clean. Or taken.
And with unpolished silver
hair and paper suit,
pretends to be casual here
to choose to be here but
there is something in the messiness
of that jawline draws confession
like the sighs tunneled through uneven shoulders. Stood like
a man in a suit like a man drinking coffee.
You’ve watched us well, unsigned plagiarist.
I want to coach you in your play. Take your coffee
teach you how to gulp it; men in suits must hurry. Your time
must be valuable. Body, old, browned– it must be fit to that suit.
Let it hold your back straight let it slump you. You should be
too busy to see me watching you. To look at me. Hurry
hurry; you’ve begged all day for a coffee now steaming
in a paper cup. If you want to play person, you can’t let it cool.
I cannot breathe into this. Rubber turned so
heavy. Solid. A sack of wet rice
Just heavy and slow and stuck.
Now I must forget London that fucking lovely city.
I must destroy it all that skyline I saw from the tube
the frenzied red the spinning dog the gentleness.
That swan so still. Waiting.
Still swan on still water. I didn’t know it was gliding
in that smog and that haze, so I slipped out of Hyde Park into Boston.
And like an idiot stayed here. Felt justified like water
running, splitting at a tree and crashing downhill
to search the ravine for some source. I could —
you and I could overflow. Delta into insanity like
I know you wanted to like how I loved London rain
because I wanted Piccadilly to flood. London would go quiet.
And we’d skip breakfast.
In quiet one could hear the call to church. How wonderful it was
to hear about dying lambs how wonderful it was. Please—
I liked it better when your handprint was raised
and red and hot and sharp. I don’t want to go still like
wretches that get uglier the less violent I want you to
trace again my back smash my meaty heart until it
dies like fish in your hand take my womb handle it until it suffocates. Tear open
my lungs so they can rest and hold nothing/everything. Rip out
all the muscles until you’re too tired to be angry and smart. And I’ll bleed out.
And what’s left is the ditzy mind you loved you
liked well enough. Use your hands. You are a man. Not a swan on silver in
the dreamy warm. I want to freeze I want to burn.
I never was alone.
Don’t make me carry my body home.
Quieter thought gone louder now as arms pump
full with something that stings
Sits like lactic acid in my wrists isn’t it supposed
to fade isn’t it supposed to drain?
It’s not often that these mountains fuzz in the sun;
thin air makes a pure picture.
But even crisp heights make ocean sunsets— to
remind us that one mile or two
Are smallest slices of one world’s onioned globe.
I climbed these rocks to look
Down toward river, up to mountain, never quite
high enough to own it all and I know
Behind this hill he watches with me. Watches me
leave on important business,
Imagines the little gray car swerving back over the
river, back through town,
Up to the house he can’t have up there on that
mountain. I hid my car
Behind the rock face one driveway up. He’s given
me butter to use when he’s gone.
It’s melting in the sun. And I’m up above on this
speckled evening listening
To the river he can hear too. Or can’t hear anymore
but should. When I came
To take his things his eyes were red. Told me the
house was dusty. It was.
I near saw them turn purple in the driveway, but
waved and turned down the dirt.
I used to watch the mountains hard, write long
sentences of exact description,
Thinking how elegant, how romantic I was as I wrote:
Birds, Flowers, God. I knew
It was all good. I emptied my head until I thought
Something echoed from behind
Or above. Now I watch a man pull himself up boulders,
boost his black dogs, one little,
One larger, to sit on another rock tower. He empties
his shoes and watches this soft
fading. The dogs gleam against that rock, lazily
explore in circles their outcropping,
Their rock so redyellow against that bluegray mountain.
My rock beneath just dappled
In green lichen. We are not the same. We are not one
in this passing shadow. I could
Watch my own strong child legs scrambling and I cannot
say I’d know them. I’m on
This side of the rock; I did not climb to the top. The man
serpentines down, careful
Enough to show his age. He knows his route. He’s
well-versed with the little dog now
Under his arm, bracing against a reaching step. The
shadow’s taken his rock,
and he’s had enough. Purple mountain and purple rock
and purple eyes blend.
I see the man descend.
In even light, you can see the streaks on this face. The
tower is crumpled, is fractured.
It wrinkles like an ass does, or a cheek. I would stretch it
out to smooth it, but it is
Too dry now. It would bleed. It is not one clean slab. I
cannot tell if its compression
Has come from the front or the top. Perhaps from the
inside. I see that it’s been
pinched. In even light, I’m no longer shadowed beneath
this sparse tree. Below, I see
The two dogs leashed, and here’s a little family on the path.
I hear their steps; the
Little one—five, maybe seven—has a decibel that reaches
my perch. It carries, shoots
with her turquoise shirt, that demanding lilt that spins. She
and it sink into the gulley.
I hope she climbs and doesn’t see me crouching. I swear
there’s a murmur of
Her father. I want to shout across this space. It will change.
Like mountains, like rock,
Like dogs leashed, walked— You will find yourself on your
own outcrop. You will glow
Pink, red, as everything fades blue and you will be seen
across the rock. And you will
Have to learn to climb down, because the butter is melting
and the yogurt is curdling and
The romaine is wilting even though you’ve thanked your
father for it even though you
Said you’d take care of it even though he
—Hold onto my hand—
If I were a child, I’d think you were God’s echo—
so damn trite.
I’d think you were a message placed in a quieted mind.
But my mind isn’t quiet,
And I can’t say I was listening. Not for your parents in brown
or red— for you in that turquoise, spinning.
Turquoise that doesn’t bother with shadows. I see you so
clear up there. I see you
I see you climb over the side. And here am I alone watching the
mountains with my father
On two sides of a rock. The romaine is wilting. It’s all fading.
Dogs gone, man gone,
You gone. The yogurt is curdling. I must climb down.
I can’t remember how.
I flew into Boston and saw your arm in the surf.
He holds the bay like a skipping rock— a perfect round find, polished, cocked in hard arched forefinger,
shining and heavy and cool. He whips the disc fast and crisp, and talks the Sox like he grew up in Southie. All the suburb boys
learned to. He wrangles the Pike like an old stubborn friend, lets it guide him away from gray spring. He leaves snow-cracked shoes,
and runs through sand until he gets his summer feet. He’s running now— takes to deep paths like drunk softball base runners,
splits with sliding steps through beachgrass. Opens this place up like sunscreen fingers on potato chip bags. The mildew hits him,
bursts through the basement door and settles on him, sweet like dried Diet Coke. He sips koozied cans loudly in his low rusting chair.
Dripped ice cream and childhood and t-shirts stick to him. These kinds of days, he only bathes with spiders in cool outdoor showers.
He spends August nights making sure you can’t tell the difference between his skin and the wind, and you can near see him in the tide.
His voice is summer and so are his eyes. May he never stop talking smack. May he never blink beneath that cap.
Dark now, magpies sleep and I’m dancing with a flame on the city.
Down there, glowing swans snake into themselves and roll
Like tipping rocking horses into water. There’s a black one in the Serpentine.
The morning ladies say they see it. It has tied itself up for the night.
Look East. In yellow light find stone and brick and soot that
smudges faces of city blocks. Watch smoke move like marbling wax.
The wind takes our light, then plays above trees in Hyde Park. It falls, lifts two pigeons
and a newspaper in South Kensington. They flutter, they settle.
Orphan horns blend. Watch it all bumble. Lean in with sparkling flint
To relight this low candle. Smiling, you are
So gentle like soft flame barely holding to wick. Grapple, dance with me,
With things we all hear now and once heard clearer as children.
Look down with me on this city. Let us light it all up.
I will make it glow. I will use the word to show your face in this flicker.
One magpie, two.
My room is pouring me out through the window into the street as if
My bed is slanting down as if
It wants me to tumble along with London rain.
London makes you write with your eyes closed.
All these bards have turned into their insides
Tried to find something some light in this gray.
You land on me like a tree over a path creates a secret
An accidental cave where I can
Close my umbrella. You have nowhere better to be
Walk slowly and let the rain coat your shirt
Walk slower as if this is all on purpose. Dress
As if this is all on purpose. Remember how
Strangely magnificent it is to see a horse in this city.
Mythical giant with memories of
A historical outside. Where do you think