12.31.2015

To The Girl Tired Of Being Called Pretty

If you prefer, I’ve plenty more steam rollers
tucked in my pockets, so pick one:

Smart—how nice, how
useful, how many mistakes can you make
before the long, flat stitches
of your body fall apart?

Brave—and strong, yes. This
will get you as far as your own legs
want to go, but take care.
When you’re lost in the dark, the slightest
trembling in your jaw might shatter
the narrow glass of your cookie-
cutter silhouette.

Extraordinary?
What do you think that means?
You are already—
but you think that I am wrong, that you are
only a slip of paper wide enough
for one word.

We could sit together, instead.
You could give me your hands—their
dimensional form, their lines and creases
and measured motion—and I will learn

of the mountains you’ve climbed
and the books you’ve worn out,
of the treasures you cradle and
thorns that you clutch,

you could give me your hands.
Then I would hold them tight
and tell you truth: your heart moves
life in loops and arches,
your eyes are endless seas,
and you belong

not rolled out thin on
cold pavement, but standing
on your solid feet
among the bowing hills.

12.23.2015

Immanuel

Maybe we have approached the sound
of an army erupting across a cloudless sky,
the clamoring victory cry from those whose
thousand hands drew back the firmament’s curtain
and watched their king go forth,

whose voices rose like daybreak
when they looked, and wondered,
and did not understand.
As for me, I could not speak when the golden dusk
had breathed out glory that gripped me tight

like a baby’s fist around my finger,
still streaked red from the womb but steady
as the ranks of time, strong as a mother’s heartbeat,
unseemly as arms that scatter the stars yet
lift my deadweight bones like something
precious to be held.

Maybe we are approaching the sound
of true love: this low thrumming
moves the ground under me, rattles my skeleton,
shakes my soul awake and I
have glimpsed the land beyond the sun,

I have touched a face older than the ocean
that bent from light into black dust, that stooped
over my crumbling corpse and breathed—

When I heard your name, I wept
louder than the angels' shout.
They do not know the weight we carried on
our cracking necks, the long despair in heavy silence
that is splintering beneath your red-streaked feet,

which have walked from blood to blood across
the cemetery of our earth, and we,
the bones, sprang up with joy
to hear your steps at last.

12.10.2015

Stasis

The world and I dance a fine line
between glacier and wildfire, but
it's my body that sometimes flubs the tightrope.

Here I go, flipping
like a pendulum gone insane,
desperate for steady orbit,
a hot star scrabbling at one side and the
universe’s freezing hands grasping at the other.

I've grown armor made of ice: the greaves,
the cuisses, the pauldrons. I'm thinking maybe
if I tremble hard enough, I can shake
my legs and shoulders free.
My down comforter is a useless furnace and
laughs at me. The afternoon
is depressingly grey.

My down comforter is a furnace and someone
has stretched holiday plastic wrap across the sunset.
The light leaks eerily red through my window
like maraschino cherry juice, like twilight
on Mars. I am a human space heater with
a second skin made of sweat.
The covers are tangled on the floor.

Millennia ago, it seems I sped along as fast
as any spinning planet, as innately
balanced as the earth for life and
living—for summer wind and winter scarves and
children laughing on the lawn—but perhaps
I am imagining
it all.

My dreams fractalize:
Shiver. Run. The city grid.
Burn. Sit down. The sidewalk cracks.
Shiver. Swallow sand. The network of my capillaries.
The head on my neck is swelling;
it is filling with cement; it will
explode by dawn.