Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Month: April, 2010

Child

When the time came
I made her out of paper
I gave her a good name for pretending
she knew how it felt to be loved

And water won’t rinse out
the anger I felt
when I made her
and the dust ran dark with mud

She said my skin will drift back into dust
but maybe by then we’ll have learned
how to lie
or to love

either way there’s still time
to grow up

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Mirror

After a night in the cold
I stepped into an elevator
whipped the water from my hair
you stood next to me
and the droplets stood inside the mirror
some reflecting our faces
and some the places where they used to be

In the hallway
you said your hair was red originally
and you’d died it a thousand times
trying to find the color it used to be

In my bedroom
I laid back and where your fingers were
I felt sharp threads
which wound tightly, tightly around me

In the empty places
where you used to be
spots of silver mildew
flowered the way raindrops do
when they reflect the surface of a lake

This

What does it sound like
to hear god?

like this–

the ringing in your ear
which as a child you might believe
is the sound angels make
inside a seashell

The ringing in your ear
which someone tells you, consolingly
is the last breathless whistle
of some perfectly specific tone
right before it’s choked into nothingness
by the shifting of your skin

What does it sound like
to hear god?

like this–

a note heard once
and often
and then never again

Ritornello

It was a Tuesday maybe
when we walked between pine trees
and I told you that when wood burns
it’s like another kind of sunlight

We whistle during musical interludes
we make the melody more naturally that way
I discovered that when my chest hurts
its really my heart trying to find the beat again

I made a note to remember
the plastic fangs and the pockets full of posies
one day we’ll write stories about these
and discover that in time, there is meaning in every thing

When I return I realize
you still like to ignore directions
if getting lost
means not getting home

In the backyard
where I left death in an orange bundle barely underground
I tried to learn
the most important songs to me
on ukulele
while in the firelight
you still write them endlessly
and happily I’ll spend all of my thread
spinning them out of memory

Muse

Death is ugly and empty she said
I disagreed
because she was not dead yet
so how could that be?

I hate the way her hips sway
when she stands still
Sublimate she’d say
and I would hate it
as I paint the history of my unhappiness
around the edges of her lips

South of Jericho, North of Sodom

Near the end of death
memory flares up like saltfire —

Grandmother tugged at our hair
and explained that the next life
was almost the same as the last
except that there miracles happen
but only to people who expect them
and aren’t quite surprised by anything

Grandmother left
because she didn’t believe
the things she had said to me
she convinced herself while lying in bed
that the past approaches too quickly
so existence must be relegated only to memory
or to nowhere at all

Near the end of death
The photographs uncurl themselves
spots yellowed by the sun darken again
somber faces patches on jackets
information in black and white filling the spaces
left behind by nothingness

At the end of death
there is no death
and memory
is what time used to be
a rhythm of reeling and unreeling

Regress

Maybe Sisyphus could understand the situation I’m in
or he’d say not to simplify things

Either way you’re a stingy bitch
for not making your way down here
or at least meeting me in the middle

Why can’t we kiss at the base of this mountain
we’re already in hell as it is

Killing (Something) in Early Spring

I pull myself along beneath windows
in each one I see you wearing your dreams
a white dress in winter
a red dress in spring
and a coat of many colors
on the days when the light bends
around that strange time of year
right after some solstice
like the imagined events
after an ellipsis
or before an eclipse

You can’t stand the smell
of flowers before blooming
I can see it in the wrinkles beside your eyes
when you smile like you believe in something

I taste like nothing more
than a bud nipped too early
by hands shaking with impatience

Some mornings I imagine
the way your eyes closed the night before
and I wonder who stood in my footsteps
at 5 in the morning when I kissed you
and that was enough