Hey y’all. Here’s a blog comic featuring some of Gambier’s best. Pretty damn funny:
Monthly Archives: October 2007
Hey y’all. Here’s a blog comic featuring some of Gambier’s best. Pretty damn funny:
My brother first came to inhabit my head the day he died. That was four days ago and people have found my composure in the matter unnerving. I am sitting here at his memorial service and it is my own private irony that Mason has been sleeping through his own funeral; this—his bodily internment.
We were born, thirteen minutes apart, into the morning of a Sunday. We were perfect replications of one another, each a copy of the other. In the beginning, there had been a third but he disappeared into the walls of our mother’s womb while yet little more than a faint, red beat.
As children, we were indistinguishable from one another: we harbored no differences. On our eleventh birthday we received a pair of knives from our father and sharpened a length of pine from the woods behind our house. Out in that cloistered forest, it was accidentally driven into my left eye, leaving the iris a violet amoeboid shape. That was Our First Distinction.
When we returned from the hospital that night, our parents put me in the guest room to avoid infection, frightening us with a story of another boy and an old man removing a patch from over his eye each night, placing it on the bedside table.
Falling asleep that first night back, I could hear a pacing movement out in the hallway, back and forth in the dark. I was half asleep when I saw his body curled up by the door, his blond curls stood out white in the dark hall. I fell asleep like that.
In the morning I asked Mason about that and he started looking the way he did when we shared a secret. He told me the same story, how I’d slept there curled up like a Good Animal at our bedroom door; how he didn’t move.
We were quiet as our mother made us breakfast, looked at one another over cereal. I remember the sounds of my mother’s hands in the sink, the clinking of our spoons upon the bowls, the clinking of her rings against a plate. As I remember these things, I can hear Mason roll over half-sleep behind some fold of my mind; there is a sigh. In his dreaming, I can feel occasional echoes of sensations. The smell of pine…sap sticking to fingers.
and the smell of sap sticks to things, sapling fingers of pine define the edge. God cause you know that past the edge there is the same walk in pine needles and the quality of shadow is the same. Same moment where we put our hands in our pockets, still behind the stream, and recognize the warm pommels in our hand. Sharing glance. Fingers sappy and sticking to warm pommel.
There is primarily the smell of pine and sap sticking between my fingers as i take the likely left foot step where my foot is half in shadow under the burnished leaves of a sumac. i take this step, anticipating the sensation of stepping under the burnished leaves of a sumac but, knowing it, there is only the fact that i have stepped.
It is always like this here and there is our path through taller pines and the floor is soft needles. Sometimes it seems like a few steps into that moment but I have dreamt hours of walking, waiting to think to slip my hand into my pocket. Sometimes the trees seem to repeat themselves. Sometimes i feel like we are looking at each other for so long in that moment when the warm pommel of the knife is felt sticking to the fingers, Clay’s eyes still looking like my own
Mason and I had always known about the knives. Our father had shown them to us when we first began to ask for stories at night. The pommels were the yellowed ivory of some kind of bone; on each, a pair of horses frozen in the gesture of a leap were carved in with fine red lines. The thought of them inevitably came up every Christmas and every birthday, so when my father placed them in our hands, our fingers shook. There was so much ceremony in it. They were only buck knives, but they had seemed so handsome and powerful that morning. He slid the knife-blades out together, moved our hands over the steel and bone. They were smoother than the rough texture of his palms. He taught us how to unlock the blades.
We spent the first weeks of that summer out in the fields and the woods. Behind our house, we had fifteen acres of pine and hickory trees. Somewhere in there, past a stream, we had found a path leading to a clearing in the woods we claimed as our own. Past the stream, the ground was damp and green under the shadows of thicker trees. In that quiet glade, Our Clearing, we opened our knives, thumbed our imperfect reflection on the blades.
I remember we threw them into the trunks of pine trees until the tips of the blades were gummy with sap, and the trees trickled thin, translucent lineations that reflected the modest light of the clearing back to us. Mason pulled a branch down from one of the slimmer pines until the wood bowed down and the green of its truer skin showed and split away from the main. I repeated the act upon another branch.
We dragged them into the middle of the clearing, stood there with our knives together. The grass was long and bent over itself in yellows enlaced with green. Mason and I lay one of them out and with our knives nicked at the several switches growing from the main until we had a single, rough length of wood. Those pine switches lay like fans across the grass.
I stood it up on end and Mason held the base steady. Mason held the base steady. I had one hand on it. It stood up to my chin. I drew the knife up and against it in slow successions. Slim curlings of wood circled the base, one stuck out from between two toes. Here it gets confused. At one point, the knife swung too high, glancing past my ear, and we both agreed to turn the blade down on it.
I drew the knife down upon the edge. I had one hand on it. The tip approached a point. Mason held the base steady. The knife came down. A slivered curling of wood pealed off. Something shifted. The knife slid down, the sharpened tip was driven up.
of all, of all of them. This one. This is the one that could like do me in.
It’s my hands are there and my cheeks are trying to blow something right out. My fingers slide down the keys. And i’m blowing something out and it’s sounding into something. Blowing long like that. Sometimes longer than this one though. That’s all i can really pay attention to in this one is that sax in front of me, the imperfect reflection coming back at you like sideways off the curved brass.
No turning around, with what’s those things showing from behind in that bronze distortion of me blowing the cheeks out like that. But seeing the lighting shift on the sax in front of me it’s always obvious, how could there not be all of them and their cigarettes smoking the place and in that general hum rumbling.
i got this feeling between where i’m thinking and my lips when i’m here and i can feel myself going after something, something like i might almost heard before.
i’m blowing it out and its moving through these corners and stops and i can feel like there is something around some corner, like if i keep chasing it i might start playing it– and i think i can hear Clay back there in the audience–hold that bass…steady…curling…–It’s lost under the rolls of the crowd shifting in seats. And that sound i was almost maybe catching to starts going out and my fingers press down and the sounds are all mismatched and it seems like i’ve forgotten to play and that sound is just my memory of another dream like this one, where i have to wake up and am that much further from what I’m trying to play to.
worst of it all is that the crowd doesn’t even know that i’m chasing my own Questing Beast. Maybe Clay. Maybe Clay talking from the crowd in a voice like a chant—slide down…tip the drive up.
I can hear Mason murmur sounds through my mental space like the high, wavering notes of his saxophone. I can feel him shiver for a moment. I myself shake under these felt reverberations.
We were beautiful as children and we looked like none of our relations: our eyes were too wide and held in them those stark, purpled centers; we lacked our father’s small, thick frame; our mother’s broad nose and hollow cheek-bones. Our uncle called us The Changelings for the disparity.
We were both quiet at that age, and private. Other children did not know our games and parents found us unsettling or, perhaps, merely strange, quixotic curiosities. It can be hard to qualify all of the various uneasy reactions.
But always, more than anything, it was the eyes—the particular violet intensity of them. It’d always been hard for people to maintain eye-contact with us; anyone who caught our shared glances from the corner of their vision and then the fixed attention of our gaze.
As my eye all healed up, people began to treat us differently. They seemed to be trying to read things into it, when they registered the broken iris, the purpled azure contents spilled out across the white of my eye, it seemed as though they saw in the anomaly of it some gesture of the uncanny and, when I was older, something of a quiet, secret confidence, in the exchange.
It became one of our games. I would peer, not just back at them, but right into their own stare and Mason would begin to giggle and we would break from the game. It is something that makes me smile still and I can hear some crooning noise of Mason’s sound from somewhere in my interior.
We shrugged off the difference they tried to mark between us. Our parents made no mention of this changed treatment towards their sons, or their own small changes. And with the two of us always close and talking low to one another, the effect was our further withdrawal into our own private company. Eventually, we came to spend most of every day in or around that clearing, cloistered by the pines. In the uncanopied center, we drove that sharpened stick through the grass and into the dirt. I almost feel again the act of holding the wood tight, pressing my weight down, the earth giving way to the sharp point.
never remember that that was just before and in this dream i am always just in that dodging of the knife swinging down slowly.
Each time i am here again the stranged moment stretches out. My hand begins loosened. i begin in the memory of having just registered a loss of control, not sure if it is mine or his or what. Clay reels back, still holding the wood tight with one hand he doesn’t make any sound in particular and just goes and bends down into the ground. He’s gone limp and i have to pull him over my back. Passing through and into the trees, i hear a cough from behind us.
i can only just watch my foot twist under an outgrowing hickory root and feel Clay’s weight on my back succeed over my efforts, and we are both sprawled there and he is asking where we are and i am fixed in my position under him. There is no pain in the twisting of ligaments as i fall down, the act is too redundant. The clearing still feels close behind me and i have the sense, every time, of having left someone behind—unsure of whether we are being pursued or in the act of abandoning and my shoulder is wet with something i can’t ever make out between blood and tears. In another dream someone has whispered their name into my ear and into Clay’s ear, and we have always forgotten.
Occasionally, we would find the traces of someone else’s presence in our closed haven: vague, circling trails in the grass from where small feet had pressed the blades flat against each other. At other times, we could hear quiet movements back in the shadows of the pine trees. The presence drove us, one evening, to curl up in the center of that clearing, and wait for morning, listening to a quiet pacing around our perimeter. Mason seemed to read danger in that sound of footsteps moving through the brush.
Waking up, cold and wet with dew and the forest finally still and quiet, we stumbled through the shadowed morning dampness of the woods. A week later and we were both sent off to music lessons every day, separated for four hours of every day.
for every day, four hours. For every day, four hours of lessons separated.
For weeks, four hours of blowing hard on those green cheeks. Afterwards, a quiet standstill in our terms of gaze. Wanting to know what his fingers had pressed upon, pressed into ivory and ebony keys. A means i felt i knew, sore cheeks but something just starting anyway. Blowing into that horn trying to visualize maybe just see those keys smashing in my own warped reflection on the brassy curve of the sax’s lip. So there are those keys showing in the sax and i don’t know what i’m doing but i’m hitting some notes. And it seemed, after some time, that we weren’t losing anything for it. After some time, we played together in front
The eye had gotten it started in a way, people shying away from eye contact, but really it was the music that set the first distinctions into motion. It wasn’t really anything… those people. I was just the stranger twin to them. But when we started doing things with those instruments, Good Things, there was Clay and there was Mason and whatever we may have been the two of us, there was just something we couldn’t say. By the time we were thinking about going off to college, I was composing and Mason was improvising. He was more than that though. There was something in his playing, some action you couldn’t quite put out there.
From somewhere behind, there is his exhale and a fleeting recollection of sitting in front of a piano on a stage, the two of us playing together.
But someone is stepping up to the podium now—here in this white-walled Episcopalian church—and the funereal audience is shifting in their pews. Someone I have never met is standing in front of the podium. My parents are sitting in the front row and my mother stoops over, shakes across her shoulders. I am having trouble keeping with his words and my mother continues to weep. Her shoulders continue to shake, my father places his arm around her shoulder. The man I have never met walks down from the stage and my father brings her up and into the aisle and people begin to search for their bags and coats from under the pews.
Mason mews quietly from inside.
* * *
I lay in bed upstairs for a while, in that old guest bedroom, until the last sounds of the reception came to a close. The memory of the sound and the shadowed passage of whatever that was that bandaged night from our childhood began to loop over and over in the empty room like the sounds from a radio tower invading an amp that’s been left on, and it was an effect that was doubled…that is, I could hear it replicated, muted from Mason within me. An old alarm clock by the bed flashed a green 12:00 in rhythm to the sound of that shuffling presence that had frightened the two of us so much that night and I lifted myself up.
When I make it to the bottom of the steps, I see the girl sitting at our couch with her face intermittently lit a pale blue, a white-yellow, a flashing of red from the television that dimly sounded in front of her. She is still as gorgeous as I remembered her being.
I had heard of Cynthia from Mason back when he had been playing regularly. I met her once at a bar Mason was playing at perhaps five, six years ago. I was in an unfamiliar city and had not seen my twin brother in months, had heard a few words. We sat together and you could see her eyes go wet watching him up there, and my eyes were wet. I wanted to get up there and play something with him, almost did before convincing myself my fingers had grown too stiff. The piano looked like it might have been out of tune.
I remember more than anything the way she spoke to me. It seemed as though she trying to find something about him from me. She never mentioned the obvious—the replica of this man she was tearing over and the one clear difference of our eyes. I valued that from her, and the way she sought out particular phrasings from me, tried to catch me mirroring him. But I was not a jazz musician, I wasn’t even a musician anymore, and she knew things about him I did not. I remember there was a flicker of jealousy towards her for qualities I was incapable of imagining.
Thinking of these things, how I so wholly stole him away from her that night, and seeing her here now, I think I am rousing him from his dormancy. As I walk to the kitchen and pour two glasses of water, I can hear, from the television, the voice of a woman describing how a lottery winner’s grandchild has just been found dead. And also, I can hear him stirring in alto-rumblings.
I sit down next to her against the light of the television as a commercial floods over the screen. There is no sense of what the product is, only this strange self-depricatory reference that’s supposed to indicate something reliable. She takes the extra glass from my hand, smells of whiskey. She asks me how I am holding up with all of this, where was I the whole time tonight.
I tell her I was with my brother and her face screams quietly in itself. She looks away from me.
She is telling me how much he spoke of me; how much the same and how he felt himself a dragged imitation; how she should catch me at a piano sometime. In this opposition she is describing, I feel a sense of shared quality, more on his side of the fence, how I’d always felt that way—the confused imitation, always only almost for the immediacy of ourselves as same in our childhood; later, in the distance of space, time shared, for the inability to apprehend difference, to conceive of it, the inability to evaluate ones own form, the underlying faith in a common form for which we are.
Mason is trying to warn me of something, but the shaping of words seems to have become unfamiliar in his deep slumber spread across the filaments of my mind. He is trying to say a name to me, whispering from within. His or mine, I don’t know but there is a heart beating skittish and fast.
We have been talking for some length of time, she has been talking, and I have been unable to register but small fragments. “He always claimed there was this thing that he was chasing after, trying to catch and something hanging behind him in its own chase. He told me once, he was lost on something or other so he talked a little, more to get the fear out from his system. He said he wasn’t sure sometimes if maybe one was just the reflection of the other. He said there was a name. He tried to say it was just some kind of disembodied tonal phantom, but that’s shit. He would have nights where he couldn’t be alone. Not about sex or anything…his eyes would water in mid-sentence.” And her eyes are watering and I can tell that Mason is cowering somewhere behind me, closer.
People might think you’re making contact when you’re up there playing your whole breath, finding your heart in your lungs and jetting it out, but if that was really the case, then you’d be able to stop and stopping wouldn’t be such a failure. Like an arrow after a target that’s always just ahead and never has to stop like the arrow. You might think, Cynthia might have said, Well, at least you don’t lose that target forever when your arrow slides into the grass and at least the flight of that projectile is something to moon over. But, if that were only peace… to always feel that thing that you can’t get to is always out there in the periphery…to always want to chase it, like Charlie Parker chasin’ his own Bird… and to always know that you can’t ever touch it and you can’t ever rid yourself of it… because it’s not like it didn’t come from you…to see something beautiful and bleary in the one mirror you can never touch and double fingers against.
I don’t know any terms to put this in but—I don’t know how, but I can feel Mason trying… to have arms around me. From inside.
I am not aware of the decision, but I have just asked her to watch a home video of us as children. And her eyes are watering as they were when we watched Mason blow his heart out that night. And there is a heart rate’s racing and he’s shouting sounds at me—did you do that?—and she’s laced her fingers through my hand, her palm is moist or mine is, the feeling seems familiar. She has taken the State I am in like half of me were dead. She is crying and maybe thinking she is sharing something with me.
And then I am witnessing my left foot stepping towards the television, sliding a tape into the VCR and falling back into the couch. She has composed herself to some extent, a last finger fixing hair behind her ears.
In television, the two of us come into focus and we are hammering in the last stakes into a tent. I have begun talking, but I am not talking. Mason is trying to whisper a name into my ear if he could just think of it right. It is then that I can first perceive this other intentionality in the shadows of my mind. He is talking to her, she wants to know about piano, how ‘I’ played it. I cannot understand the words of His response.
On the television screen, at least, there are the two of us there, talking to each other in lowered voices. Mason is loosening his shoes, unzipping the door. This girl and I are still talking and my brother is shaking somewhere behind my eye. I try to concentrate upon the video. It was more than compatibility. We aren’t talking, and our parents filming respect that. There is just the background conversation bleeding in here and there. Cynthia is smiling when she is not being spoken to.
In the television, the two of us are pushing our shoes under the tent and there is a cut on Mason’s finger, a small spot of blood.
I reach out to see how deep it is and feel it to be only the red mud from the dirt around there. Mason laughs at me and then I am laughing with him. As we crawl into the tent, zip up, the noise seems to settle down. We lie down. We curl up against one another, close our eyes. I curl up against my brother, close my eyes. From outside the tent somewhere, I can hear a girl asking a boy if he’d play something on the piano, it’s just over there? Mason shifts his back, readjusts. I hear someone familiar tell a girl He doesn’t know any songs to play. Mason’s breathing falls into intervals of regularity and I put my arms around him as I loosen myself to sleep.
Elise and I use to dance in our empty dining room before Colin was born. She was always such a great dancer. Her legs would dip and twist like flapping bed sheets on a clothesline. The dining room’s glistening hardwood floor illuminated her every move. She looked lighter than hair. I would put on old Patsy Cline records and we would dance until one of us let out a yawn. Those were the days when we still had tomorrows.
* * *
Brody T. Vicknair,
“The Body Dies But the Brains Lives,”
January 20, 2006.
Paul Herman responded to a battery of questions by the media this Tuesday, not unusual except that Mr. Herman, the syndicated radio host of “Heartland USA,” died three years previously from The Disorder. After tests had been performed to find a cure or cause, scientists noticed strange brain activity in Paul Herman. Through this, it was discovered that one side effect of The Disorder is a seeming immortality inside the brain. This Tuesday, when asked to describe the situation by an inflicted reporter, Herman’s device simply read “lonesome.” But Paul Herman is anything but alone. After the first reported case in 1983, over three million cases of The Disorder have swept over the United States and parts of Canada. When asked for a final word, Paul Herman said only, “See you next Wednesday.”
* * *
I had always felt uncomfortable in my skin, but when it began to fall off I grew concerned. It slipped off when I touched it; small strips dangled from the gossamer web of flesh and body fat it covered. Soon the decay spread.
My right ear hung down, scraping against the side of my neck. After a week, it snapped off as I was brushing my hair and fell with a muted smack against the bathroom sink. The next morning, I woke to find the left one stuck to my forehead.
Then my nose began to brown. It started when I scrunched it after smelling meat rotting in the back of the refrigerator. After that wince, my nose stayed bunched until it flaked off in a tissue.
Tonight, my brother Phineas calls me. From the hallway, I hear the telephone ringing in the kitchen. I try not to rush, knowing my toes are weak and could shake from me.
“Hey. Calling to wish you a happy birthday.” He paused. “Has it started?”
“What else? I mean, Rose has already lost the skin under her feet and back. How far along is Elise?” I stare at my wife, a brain on a pillow by the sill.
“It’s the final stage.”
“Aren’t you,” Phin clears his throat, “scared?”
“You know what I’m afraid of,” I say, “That there’s a heaven. Some tranquil, beautiful place where everyone is happy and life is perfect. But you got to die to get there. But like they say, we never…” There’s a low loud groan on the other end of the line. It’s Rose.
With a quick click, Phin hangs up his phone. I follow.
When we were kids, I followed him too. One winter night, we walked down the street to Ms. Glimmer’s house to find our lost cat. But it wasn’t there. So we turned and turned until I didn’t know where we were anymore. Phin didn’t either. We started seeing people we didn’t recognize, houses we had never seen before. We found the cat hiding under a Buick in some old man’s overgrown yard. Later, we found out that the man was one of the first in our neighborhood to start decaying.
On the kitchen counter, a cupcake cools with an unlit candle jabbed past the pale blue icing and into the cake’s center. I light the candle and the white wick blackens, the flame dances until I press my lips and blow. Hot wax shudders and drips on the frosting.
* * *
From the doorframe of my bedroom, Colin’s whisper wakes me.
“My rainbow night-light burned out can you fix it can you please read me a story.”
“Close your eyes and wait.” As his shadow on my bedroom wall falls away, I begin getting up. I roll my shoulder off the bed, my neck and head fighting their weight to rise. My lungs rumple like a plastic grocery bag when I breathe. With all the strength in my arms, I push up and out of my bed.
With small, calculated steps, I walk to his room where his sheet, pressed against his tiny body, rises and falls with each breath.
Colin’s eyes are closed as my falling shadow lets him know I’m here.
“It’s bad.” He knows.
“Yeah. Try not to look.”
“What do you want me to read you?” Without turning over, he hands me a thin white book.
I open it, flakes of my skin falling in the folds of the pages as I turn to the beginning:
Once upon a time there was a breeze that didn’t have a home. It floated from meadow to meadow, but every time the homeless breeze found other breezes playing in the grass. The breeze was very sad and sulked to a nearby town knocking hats off people’s heads, to make itself feel better. One day, while sauntering to another town, the breeze came upon a small cottage. Inside, a retired logger was dying. His breaths were short and his chest puffed like a bullfrog. Slowly, his large gasps grew shorter and shorter until he panted like a thirsty dog. The breeze rushed through the cottage door and flew into the old logger’s chest. He jumped up high into the air with life and fell down to his bed where he slept for months. When he woke up, the logger’s old body was replaced with a young strong body with huge muscles. The man and the breeze lived together forever.
* * *
In the kitchen this morning, I am thinking about Elise. Months before she entered the final stage, she worked in her daisy garden, knees and palms covered in loose soil. On our last night together, I had to help her ease into bed, as she was nearing the final stage and had very little strength left in her. Elise’s skin tore like bleached cloth as I ran my fingers up her peeling thighs; ribbons of skin fell as I stroked her. She smelled like one of her withering daisies as she leaned up to kiss me. Layers of skin remained from her lips as she pulled away.
I whispered, “Oh Elise,” where her ears once were.
“Honey, I love you with all the pieces of my heart,” as her bones snapped like celery. She disintegrated.
I look at Elise. What’s left of her rests atop a pillow on the wide windowsill where she used to sit, knees pressed against her chest, and drink hot coffee, or tea. She usually wore her long white floral-print dress with its sleek trim along the neckline. The straps were thin and looked stretched as if they could have popped at any second. When she smiled, her lips drew out to where her eyes end into temples. From there, she decided what daisies were in bloom. Which flowers were going to die. Outside the window, the branches of our oak tree swing, leaves shake from it. The leaves fall on too-high grass and settle.
* * *
I wake, startled, and look for Elise. I remember she is at the kitchen window. I lift my shoulder and with diminishing strength, lift my neck and head. A thunderclap explodes, a thin sheet of lightning and I fall back. It rains hard. My bones are solid as eggshells.
As I come closer to the kitchen, the sound of falling rain swells. The window is open.
Elise is not on her pillow.
I run outside to her, to the rain. The drops are heavy and hit my skin hard enough to puncture deep past layers of skin and rotting muscle. There, in the mud, Elise lies, dirty and specked with grains of sand. Rivulets of rain roll off her brownish-pink lobe. I rush to her, parcels falling from me. I collapse to my knees and my legs break away. I press my disintegrating chest against Elise and she slips inside, past the crackling ribs and torn muscle.
At the final stage, I feel the chambers of my heart separate in the rain.
I stare up at the dark blue sky as cool rain falls on the fertile grass. The leaves on the oak collect water in pools, grow heavy and spill to the earth. The breeze slides against my eyelids like a kiss. I wrench my head back and scream for help, but the force snaps my spine and splits my throat in half. Always uncomfortable in my skin. The night is dark, the moon’s shine is muted, and the rain reflects it like diamonds.
* * *
My room is dark but it gets brighter and dark again because of the storm. I wish my night-light worked. I hear a noise and I go into the hall. Nothing. I look in Daddy’s room. Nothing. I walk to the kitchen, my loose tooth moving whenever I touch it with my tongue. It is going to fall out and the tooth fairy is going to bring me money. The wind is everywhere and it blows loose papers all over the house. I close an open window. I see something on the grass. The doorknob is high so I reach up and turn it until the door opens. I take off my sock because I do not want to get them wet and I push the screen door away. The thing on the grass is dark like mud. I don’t know what it is, but I touch it with my whole hand and push. I wipe my hand on my pant leg. I go back inside to get away from the rain and sit on the couch in the old dining room. I’m not allowed to play with the record player because it is old. I feel the tooth fall on my tongue as I lift and lower the arm of the record player. Who’s Patsy Cline? I push a red button and listen.
I fall to pieces
Each time I see you again….
I contort in dark and light, pervert spine
as we pervert delusions of true love
fed to us and younger lovers line
by line. Create with me the image of
the pains that come, the bending that we do
for an increment of other’s touch. Reprise
the role of man who can remain a true
participant. Deny the loss. Your eyes,
the inch of skin your fingertips provide
that I can’t see, your cold skin unfelt. Sent
from casts a pair that refuse to ever slide—
suppose with me that it’s enough to want.
Please think of me and stay in your formed place
if in some haunting memories you see my face.
Artists with agendas make women with your shape,
they capture, distill, snare your blown hair
just out of reach from me but never them. Wear
your garments tight around your curves, nape
exposed to those not posing, not looking to escape
like me, my shadow out of view. Not given eyes to stare
at me, who also cannot look. I have form; the air
I sense, the leaves falling on my false drape.
I know you well enough to need to run away—
this is the promise of emotions turned
to statue, cold and calculated art.
I know you well enough to want to stay.
I am not a lover spurned,
I am a lover made without a heart.
“The Hydra of myBorneo”
In the Eaves & Ungained Foliage
of myBorneo I am cocksure
with a tumbling speciation.
must hereafter be
known as She
(perhaps one day She
will just get her name back.)
(But no… this ecology
of heart or mind is not quite that robust…
for if, in fact,
I am a Hydra,
should I cut from myself the enervating head,
as I surely have?)
A brilliant neon lizard—with a regrown tail of smooth oily scales
the color of bruise—
basking in a beam of light that has
passed through the gauntlet of umbra and canopy
reminds me of
For the Hydral,
it is the shearing
of the neck
that is the high point
like the brief
seizing climax of heroin:
it’s the greatest magic trick in the world
of seething magicians:
a disappearing act
of all the things she leaves behind…
(and is that white elephant we vanish from the attic
gone? or simply gone
and what resolves in the accidental
plume of dust,
what vague, telling outline?)
So I count my addictions and wonder
does everyone have this
Nowadays I want from women
transparency, but only partly.
And I have cut them all off,
one by one.
At pace with my own powers
of Regeneration & Recuperation.
The demands of an increased metabolism, naturally,
required me to muster an appetite,
which has always troubled me.
And there was surgical precision
most of the time, but in honesty
there were here and there the violent
rippings of neck from my countless
collarbones: fitful shows of strength for whom?
And it might have gone on forever,
an infinite regress of wounding and regeneration
were it not for the progress charted
in thin lines of scarification.
And as for her, I am left with necklaces
of turned and purple skin—
marks of a double trespass—
and an elephant graveyard:
a pile of loose and grey heads
severed at the shoulders;
fetid serial self-portraitures
in wilting stem & flower.
Men go blind. Eyelids curled like
sleeping beagles. Knives and wine
we put them down. Aloe on our wounds.
From the road the streetlight—our only light—
interrogates panes. Lets us move on.
Like the gal I nickname Eavie—
in adolescence easygoing, in
womanhood a night without its hunters—
the men who fail her feelingly.
She sits on my front porch flexing pink knees.
For the kisses we don’t share, the stars
I can no longer see—Pegasus, North; dippers
little & big, even those who don’t have
a tale; stars men didn’t once navigate—
they’re blinking like fireflies.
Note: the old draft of this poem can be found elsewhere on how to drawn an owl
We never gorged on cake or candle smoke. Never
did you unwrap a single gift. Never wanted anything.
What you liked: fart jokes and beer. Even when fishing,
your pole tickled water with you on the bank annoyed.
Fish swam suicidally toward you anyhow. You who
never managed to let a good time linger. You who raised
me right. The times I’d rather been a bastard than your
son, I was to blame. I know that now. Now you’re gone.
One Mardi Gras after a shooting we went to Grande Cochile,
caught speckled trout three times over legal limits. No boats
for miles. Your finest moment. You felt fine the day you died.
Connived to return a faulty orange cord you bought on sale.
Undaunted you went back to grocery, bought a new extension
at the normal price. You’d get your money back, and more.
After the appointment, when you died leaving the hospital
receipt in wallet and cord bagged on the passenger seat,
you never got your chance. Now I have you wallet, the receipt,
both cords, and the van you drove after you sold your truck.
And when I wrote the poem about the time you caught
a human jaw instead of trout, no one in class believed me.
You grabbed it slimy from the line, set it drown. Still
I smell it drying on the hot gray bow. A warden came
like the reaper, snatch the bagged jaw and carried it away.
That’s where we spread you, where we caught the jaw.