Pages

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Waking after sleeping late

Sean McMenemy, "Unmade Bed"

I toss, roll over, sit up, and find the gifts I’ve been given even
more inexplicable than what’s usual for me: the dog-whistle
of tinnitus, a dream in which I was generous with a stranger
and still afraid, a chaotic origami made of candy wrappers.

My ears are full of distant crickets chirring as I think about
that dream, its almost-familiar highways ending in run-down
neighborhoods. It’s as if Kurt Schwitters was Mr. Sandman,
snipping bits from every place I’ve ever been and pasting them

together catawampus across my forehead as I slept so they’d
infuse my dreaming soul. There’s a rustle at the edge of the bed.
The wrapper from a hard candy I sucked on overnight has become
wedged under my hip, crumpling nothing like a folded crane.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Convalescence

Willrad von Doomenstein, "Window at Night"

It’s the “almost home” part of the journey
for this prodigal: I spent what I had to spend,
not quite every last bit but near enough to
feel the air moving through my bones. Hard
to stop myself—sometimes it takes running
to the edge of a horizon, to where I can’t tell
whether that one thin coin I tossed was a dime
or the moon. I can see in my mind’s eye the
doorstep: I’m so weak from this fading illness,
from the relief of return. I steady myself with
a hand on the entryway. The porch light’s on.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Night Recovery

Adam Jackson, "Tall Grass at Night"

I’m too close to the ground to see where this
all landed, but still I’m pushing through sharp
tall grass, sniffing the air for a trace of burnt
metal in the dark. Was it a bottle rocket or a
meteorite? Smoke rises dark against dark, then
an even deeper dark, a hole arms-width into
which my shadow drops. I flatten, belly down
on bent sedge, and pull towards the edge: look
in, look down, where a disc the size of the moon
shines back, black as obsidian, reflecting stars.

Friday, October 17, 2014

In a Crowd

Small Pieris rapae on Cirsium arvense by Olaf Leillinger

So many purpose-filled creatures here clustered
together along the stalled line of their own stories,
shuffling, not quite touching each other. And then
above, alongside, a cabbage white butterfly spirals
up next to me, lifting my eyes and heart skyward.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In my driveway

A red-spotted toad, from The Western Ecological Research Center

A small velvet beanbag lands on my ankle: it’s a toad,
tiny delicate thing, who promptly hops off and into
the grass. Another evening, it’s a house gecko who
falls on my arm as I walk into the house with a load

of groceries. Those touches give such unlikely gifts.
They weave my frayed attention into a single strand
of webbing on which I slackline, wobble, slowly stand
and balance beneath the moon, hold still until it drifts.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Indigestable

Chisos Mountains, Woody Hibbard

It’s stuck in my throat, this choking howl, these rales
rasping on what I’ve swallowed: bezoar of boiled wool
from a too-tight jacket I gnawed off, three fingernails
that broke ragged as I scratched under a fence. Fool,
me, trying to pass as “company.” Semi-feral, wilding
under the thinnest crust of a dinnertime smile: load
me up, I’ll spit out this hairball of restraint, upchuck
all ties. Which fork to use now? The one in the road.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Parfumerie

His opening gambit: a floral, or one that’s just cetalox. No, I said, I’d
prefer incense, resins, smoke; a touch on a test strip is still too light.
Delighted, smiling: “Ah!” he said, “You know your scents!” We tried
another two, then he leaned in. “What about oudh?” Yes, I’ll bite.

Three dark bottles. “Women, ah, women are their own perfumes.”
A mist, then a verse from Eugene Onegin shimmered and decayed.
“What about this one?” Wet ink on vellum, a lost ghazal exhumed;
the third a sonnet of benzoin, aloeswood, and labdanum. He repaid

my attention with a suggestion: a fourth fragrance, without aloes,
an off-center chypre. “There are dimensions to it I think you’ll like.”
No stories painted by scent in this; rather, I’m the story, hallowed
much the same way as a butterfly pinned to a thorn by a shrike.

It was sharply beautiful, that chypre, blending my sweat and skin
with oak moss and vetiver, leather, neroli: “I’ll take it.” Or I’m taken
by it, I thought, impaled on the word. “Tell me what you think in
a few days,” he murmured. “When you wear a scent, it awakens.”