Headless

Headless but not heartless.
Where do you keep your teeth?
 
Hold them in the breath between breaths,
In the home that is no longer.
And there let them gnaw
Until the shell that is left
Rings a chord so transparent
It barely makes a sound.
 
Scatter them in the tall grass
Green and alive with spring
Find them again in autumn
Bring their fruits to reap.
 
Ball them up in your fists
And there let them sink
To bite the palm of all
The hands who try to hold you.
Let every man learn
Exactly what beast you are.
 
Leave them in your neighbor’s yard
The one with whom you never speak.
Let them chew down walls and fences
And onto pavement creep.
 
Lock them in that darkest cave
The pit you call  a heart.
Leave them at your parents’ graves
Filled with bone and far apart.
 
Burn them with filthy locks
Of hair from all your lovers
Strand them in the empty space
Between you and what you are.

Bury them in your children’s names
And when they suckle:
Teach them how to bite.
 
We devour our parents.
We devour our children.
But where do we keep our teeth?

 

Mild-Mannered Night

night shot 2

A few weeks ago, West Village penthouse

I love the mild-mannered night
Who treats me cordially, without slight.
She stoops down, so we walk together,
Like blue-brown birds of a feather.
She brushes my arm and smiles a smile
That gleams like a moon-lit mile
Of sharpened beer-bottle glass.
For in her still, Winter lingers
And its Stygian fingers
Still seek to clasp.

But Spring laughs–
Like fairy claps
A mild sound,
Full of round nouns
And dew-drop crowns
Woven of polymer-fiber dusk,
Slowly turning the sky to rust.

Continue reading

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

I remember living sometimes, when it’s spring and the ground is stirring. I remember people—their footsteps hard against the packed earth. I remember mornings of flower blossoms and seeing girls out in their summer clothes, just slightly too soon. This is life: a fleeting progression from youth to age, just slightly too soon. It’s all we have. And yet, and yet…

It’s not that I wish for more. I abhor the slow track. Spring is the dying time in my mind. It is the heartbreaking loneliness. It is the bitterness of retreat. But that’s not true: what I’m picturing is protracted winter, instead. Like the winters when my parents left me. The ones that meandered into April and then May. Continue reading

My Winter Rooms

I.

The city retreats in winter.
It recedes into itself and
I worry about the alley cats
And the man who used to sit
Wrapped up in ratty blankets
Like a great flightless bird
Nesting over the sidewalk grate.

Without them, the sky closes in
And low-hanging clouds
Fat with ice bear down
Compressing skyscrapers into
A claustrophobic maze of
Pavement—white with salt
And cracked like
The skin of my chapped lips,
Once so plump in spring.

I retreat into myself:
Another hidden face
Biting against a scarf.

What imperfect beasts we are,
Dreaming of our heated rooms,
Wrapped into misshapen wool packages
Into down-padded trappings that
Don’t keep out the misery.
At least not for me.
I feel all full of leaks
And the wind it blows
Through every open window
Every crack in my countenance.

And in my house of empty rooms
The fires have all been banked, for
My heart is an unused space:
I do not heat it in winter.

II.

I miss her again. Sitting in my new life. In a room she never saw, in a city she never lived in. And yet, in this place she’s never even dreamed of, her absence is an ache: as palpable as a physical wound.

Winter is maybe the worst time. The years of their passings were the longest winters of my life. I’m not sure they’ve ended yet.

Still, I know I’m not the only one living with ghosts. Everyone will, eventually.

III.

My friend:
I love you just enough
To visit you.
Provided
It doesn’t involve walking
Through the bad part of town.

IV.

Meet me in the cold. In the untrodden snow. In the memories we never made. I miss you, or the grand potential of you: I’m not really sure which was ever dearer. I miss your hands and the sideways look you’d give me in the backseat of a cab. I miss the way I fit right under you chin. I miss how annoyed at you I could get. I miss your optimism, your frustration. I missed the way you loved everyone you met, but could never find the words to really tell them. I miss who I was when I was with you.

I wonder if it’s an authentic feeling, this wistfulness coiling in my chest, or if I’m merely looking at ourselves on paper. A story with characters much beloved and yet…finished. Done with what they have to say. I hope not. I’m very jealous of anyone who has your time, these days. I wonder often if we could be friends. Not the kind we are now. The kind with late phone calls and an encyclopedic knowledge of the other’s everything. I know you’re busy. That these things either happen or they don’t.

I wonder if my missing was the problem all along. I wonder if I saw the ending before the start. I wonder if I was too wistful, too sad. Because the truth is, I don’t smile much. But when you touched me, I laughed.

Does Not Contain Pumpkin Spice. At all.

IMG_0111

No one ever said this was a photography blog, okay?

October Leaves

My heart is an apple,
Still dusty from the field.
It is the clanging of the school bell,
To which we all must yield.
My laugh is the dry crackle
Of a ghoul dancing in the yard
Whipped high by chill winds
And trodden into crisp-crinkled shards.
Oh the faces you’ve carved me!
Mad smirks with yellowed teeth
An army of angry villains
Set on every doorstep to seethe.
I escape them, flying
Through each gusty ghoul-puff,
And still so desperately trying
To head South with the northern geese.
The wind is treacherous, a betrayer.
It impales me on the sugar maple.
My blood

Drips

Red

Onto

The dull summer leaves,
Giving them festive costumes
For All Hallow’s Eve.

October 25, 2011

3 Poems For Spring

Image

Outside Cole’s at NYU

It seems as if all the flowers of the world have blossomed at once, or did you just now notice the forsythia outside your window? Yellow and bell-like, inherently graceful with their long necks stemming from that brown branch. But look again, and lean your head back to see pear trees with their heads adorned all in white with an almost invisible green veil, standing bridal at the street corner.  Or turn and stoop with the magnolias while you can: those  fat purple-pink-white petals always rain down onto the earth far too soon. They fade, they all fade. When better to see the sweet sakura than in bloom?   You will turn back again to remember this time when you were just so happy and grateful to be alive, still standing on a planet made of packed earth, because of the wild twist of trees against a perforated sky…

A cool breeze flits about my bare legs, enough to hurry me along.  But the cotton swish of skirt against my skin makes a passing thought to the smell that finds me in the dark: the calling card of a short pear tree made more ornate than a candelabrum, than a cake on Christmas. I am so in love with spring: so drunk on the feeling of it. So many things come alive around me, no longer locked in their cold shells. Foolish, I mourn their passing when they’ve barely arrived.   Every petal will soon fall: like the water drops that slip through my fingers to melt into the earth. I am greedy: I cup my hands and catch them, unable to just enjoy the falling rain.

Why is the city so beautiful on spring nights? Stunted trees twist in their planters to dapple patterns on skin bared beneath neon lights. A crowd of hedonistic youths undulates past, howling up to that punctured skyline of mis-matched fate. Take me with you, I cry to them, wherever you are going. There is too little for me in the hermitage of my own life. I want to feel a beat tattooed across my skin, like the pulsing of the packed earth itself breaking into song. There are wilds beneath the pavement, but maybe just the loam and the stones and the corroded wood husks remember. There is nothing to do but walk over them, weaving down Broadway between the backs of those packs from out of state. They let me experience the lights by proxy: Times Square is an eyesore of a show with money in screaming colors plastered across every surface. So we’ll slowly pick our way south, to the more organic glow of bar lights spilling out onto these dusty streets we call home.

Because finals and final projects are coming up and also because I, understandably I feel, didn’t feel like writing any odes to the weather this spring, the above are three poems I wrote last year.