A Cargo of Green Hearts
another night passes and
the floors rise up to lift me
again. a day burns down its
candle and the bed opens
its soft mouth. three years
have gone. listen, whatever
I said I'd pay for a kiss
double it again. I never
wanted to leave this world
dribbling pennies from my
mouth. I would drive my
car into the sea if you
asked me to. it's not like
I'd sell my soul but
everything else must go.
all of this stuff
down to the last marble.
love, I am finally coming
to you like the dead
naked not even holding
onto a breath.
the sound of
laughter in ruins.
the night. a blade of
grass in snow stands
out like a tower.
out of silence, a
single violin. listen.
love, be thin as a
candle flame. crazy,
how without thinking
my eyes abandon this
wide dark to
run toward you.
I begin preparing for Dark before I awake humming just a little, then ten hours
of practicing a song blindfolded, no cheating a look at the low-flying sun
then just before bed examine myself for holes, cup my hand under the faucet
for a final drink, a toast to you dear life.
today all the poems I read were about shadows and black bears crows incubi
pianos cast from windows mistakes that flap in attics. something slouches toward
dawn—I can feel it move beneath my window with a cruel sail.
this is true cold January 20 not at all like those July nights when the dark falls over
your head soft as a nightshirt and the air licks you with moist kisses. the caroling
crickets offend Death who plugs his old ears and groans. you don’t wait
worrisomely in July you swim through it, you don’t pick at its plate you stick your
entire head in the bowl (do that now and it seems the bowl eats your face).
listen friends when I was a kid January was what happened after all the
disappointing presents had been opened and the tree turned brittle as a
malnourished bone. then, waiting--and there was no waiting like January waiting.
and sure it’s true if we were numbered among the Sane Animals we’d sleep
through the thin days, but this is what we gave up when we cut off the tails
we used to wrap our cold noses in. the bears ridicule us by standing on
their hind legs. the madhouse chattering of the red squirrel is their word
for “fool” and “man” one in the same. what were you thinking, they say.
you gave up all this curled dreaming for a sack of shivering and a worship of
clocks--is it any wonder you’ve picked a tweeting ape to lead you.
try and deny it when the night comes by and says I dare you and the hearts
you tended shatter like frozen cabbages. the heat just got turned off by
the New Slumlord and the snow under moonlight suddenly looks like a warm
white blanket. I could, you think, pull it over my head and for good measure
but not me, friend, not today. no, I’ll join the sun worshiping aboriginals
who believed and still do (whatever is left of them) that you must sing
the sun up every day, dare crack your voice even when the hood is
pulled around your neck. for when the hammers start trampling the violins
and the ice fills up the trumpet it’s all we’ve got and January or not some
of us had better remember how to carry a tune.
they’ll give you no points for mumbling about the Dark when you’re in it
but will kiss the first person to raise her voice for the Dawn.
when I disappear, I’ll go in a sneaky way
my body will linger just long enough
to give everyone the dodge but my shadow
will be down the road selling roses for pennies.
when I disappear I will have already let the dogs out
will have forgotten their names, will have
taught them to no longer think of me
as master. wild dogs, the kind that will snap
at your shins.
when I disappear, they won’t find the boat I stole
will roll the tide up behind me, will pray
to the sea goddess, make a naughty pact
with her, full of lightning.
when I disappear my shirts won’t fit anymore
my face will fall off, I’ll have to buy new stuff
I suppose, will have to be someone, I suppose
if I choose to suppose. don’t count on it.
when I disappear I’ll have no need for gravity
you can keep it, all of you, divide it and
determine who and what shall be held
down and who and what shall be equitable
to helium. the stars, I’ll say, look at the pretty
when I disappear, I will have forgiven you
don’t look for the epigraphic note or
the compilation CD. you gotta have faith
the songs would say, but what’s faith
without a doubt and a leap (it’s like knowing a kiss
before you’ve kissed it).
when I disappear I’ll go the long way
this way and that between the trees
in the company of bears, a black
squadron of them. don’t get it the way.
they’ve come only for me.
someone said how unfortunate, we New Englanders
to have all these rocks that cannot be put away that
just lie about the landscape like vagrant retirees that
float to the surface seasonally buoyed by the hands
of the dead (who keep pushing them up from an
underworld which surely must be too crowded) that
break and bend the banana-long teeth of hay rakes
that stumble the necessary axle and bend the beloved
rod that embed curses on the roadside and hang
them in the air to dry
but I don’t feel resentment at the sight of the irregular
heads the lichen-starred nose and bony scree dumped
as if from the wastebasket of a volcano, no I have
invited them into my house I have walked across their
backbones barefoot I have whispered prayers into the
cracked ear and oak-split skull--call me a paranoid fool
but every day I implore them: please stay a little longer
as if they might not and sail away leaving nothing but
the air and sea for us to stand on--they to whom a
second is our eon--but if they’ve listened and have
taken my supplication to heart perhaps it will be proved
a million years hence the value of praying to things
we do not believe could speak or move.
a wild boar of the woods guides me
I shall submerge
my face in her fierce heart
I shall root dirt and grow
a wide shadow. all the train whistles
have stopped. the grass is high
I have left my house
without closing the door.
let the wild animals fill it
unscrew the cap of my skull.
let the stars fall in. moon
I know your silvery singing
the guitar is smashed. the pines
play the wind. was told
to bow to men and concrete.
was told to cover my
forehead. but I wore my hat
at an unreasonable angle
I touched snakes and did
not wash my hands.
do you want more explaining?
the sharpening of tusks
tearing through the old
maps breaking shit. it’s a kind
of love, knowing what to burn
and what to kiss. I took your
hand. all the reasons stopped
whispering and ran away like mice.
I miss you most under
the new moon. the stars
sing sweetly to me but
they don't show me their
blue shoulder the way
you do. they are the sparks
but I'm pining for the fire.
when I stop being busy:
that loneliness like
a mountain scooped out
of my belly. I've filled it
with dirt and other terrible
things. please forgive me.
this close to dawn all I desire
is the warm circumference
of your legs, the way your
hand like a spent leaf
lands on my chest. Durga,
I am a man of small things.
my heart is an idiot.
the plain air of your breath
will fill me up.
sometimes I wonder what
it would be like to have
no calendars or clocks
to feel the length
of far like an elastic
band between eyes and
distance a sudden
lengthening of the torso
to presume near
by the way it interrupts
the pulse. to feel up
embodied in stars
and down upon eating
a potato. the last bird to
leave says winter and it
sticks like a tongue to
an icicle. the first bird to
arrive says spring and you
take off your clothes. listen
dear heart to the way
all these numbers are
killing us, telling us
how long we should live
and how much it is worth.
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