Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Tower of Meaning

A reflection, an echo
or maybe just a shadow
A house with no basement
A newspaper hat on the coat rack

Bells rusted in my mouth,
a moth fluttered beneath my tongue.
I curled my fingers around your toes
as you slumbered in the tub.

Webs of cracks covered our skins
like crazed fishnets.
Silver sparks arced and twisted
from the curtain to the faucet. 

We had furniture of cigar boxes
upholstered with mats of our own fur.
Ants crawled in a line into your pocket
to feast on the sugar.

And all that is left are snippets,
and fragments, and never completed projects.
Sentences never finished,
unwhispered secrets.

I want to once again become immersed
in those droning waves, to replay
that soporific drifting of the days,
the heart's loop of murmur  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A mother flatback turtle lays her eggs in the sand.
The eggs hatch and the young make their awkward,
frantic way towards the sea.
We've seen this scene in countless nature programs
which always play up the perils of being small and weak
in a world where you are food for everything.
The camera crew follows one little turtle
as it hurries through some puddles.
The ground is bumpy, the going slow.
From out of the shallow water
stretches the tentacle of a tiny octopus,
scarcely bigger than the hatchling. It wraps itself
around the turtle's body. The baby wriggles free
but the octopus keeps throwing its arms
around and around like lariats
and finally drags its prey under for good.
Why do I keep watching? Do I really need
one more reminder that nature is cruel and arbitrary,
that the only gods with any leverage
are the gods of luck and chance?
The octopus is beautiful, with its dark, graceful limbs,
each undulating like a separate being.
The crew films it all, then to try to soften the horror
by escorting a luckier baby, walking beside it
to fend off the birds until it staggers into the surf,
where thousands of other dangers await it
as it spreads its flippers and soars
gracefully into the current.

Monday, April 6, 2020

I’m afraid of ruining it
before it’s even begun

A word can ruin it
I probably already have
after all, the first word I’m,
the second afraid. What a sad way
to start a world

Tiny porcelain heads
a cheap brass menorah
bundles of weeping cherry twigs

The world ruined
the world not ruined
the world ruined

And I can’t even hold you
as it happens

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Lookout Mountain

Sometimes it’s better not to sing

Body bag beside the curb in Topanga Canyon
Dusty mailbox with the flag snapped off.
Cracked wooden sign warning of worms ahead
Polka dots wobbling through the fog

Stripes that disappear into a wall of skin
Up that steep winding road lined with gold
Mouth stuffed with velvety petals

Silver flashes in the asphalt
Bronze flecks in her 
colorless eyes
She opened her mouth
and nothing came out

All the trees fell at the same time
All the fence slats, all the ladder rungs,
a sluggish river of honey flowing
between chunks of concrete

Shredded tonsils
Shuttered donut shops
Cans of coconut water on
a stump for target practice
Crawl space stuffed to the brim
with jonquils

I woke up in a sweat
on a lumpy mattress in the guest house
pit and the pendulum
Reached for a cigarette

Angry hummingbirds alighting on dead sticks
squealing and hissing like snakes
A manhole cover hiding a beauty mark

Rusty gates, twisting tendrils of iron
Unicorn mane, ribbons snapping in the breeze

Sometimes it’s better to keep that song to yourself

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A bird flew in through the window
I disassembled it piece by piece
A bird of light, a bird of dust
Stained glass feathers
I took its gears apart, watched it gasp
Flapping page wings
I enjoyed the precision
every word fit together like a cog
I cherished the echo it made
when I wound it up
When I tore all the pages out
leaving only the cardboard cover
A bird flew in the balcony door
I opened my mouth and it flew right in
I waited for it to lay its eggs
that would hatch into the words
I wanted to say to you
It got late. Night blanketed the rooftops.
My nest was dried out and empty,
perfect kindling for a bird
with wings of flame.

Friday, April 3, 2020


A pair of black rubber gloves, tugged off and wadded
inside out, beside the jar of pens. The material
 is soft, satiny. The landscape is dotted with holes,
one of us standing in each one, we can't see
over the top, can't reach over
to the next chamber, even though the walls are thin
and we can hear our neighbors thumping around
on every side, the tips of the gloves
are sticky, the air is thin and crackles
with layers of whisper, onionskin paper
wrapped around a tree branch,
a tape dispenser, smooth black screen covered
in sharp cracks, empty black stapler,
file cabinet drawer gummed shut, I can hear
 a buzzing from inside, and the bumping around
of small, soft bodies, I work my fingers
into the gloves and work to pry it open 
Inside there is nothing but a black comb,
a single strand
of yellow hair
caught in its teeth.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The chandelier tinkles inside my chest
as my body sways to and fro
on the rolling deck
as the music swells

I remember kissing her in this room
With a mouthful of glue
Not realizing she had a glass eye
hidden beneath her tongue

She kept boxes of scraps and patches
bits and bobs and odds and ends
Snippets and clippings, chunks and crumbs
Parts of broken objects and devices
To reassemble into endless self-portraits.
She would smash mirrors just
to make mosaics of the shards
Broken plates and bottle caps and teeth
and hedgehog quills and feathers
and curved needles of glass
like scorpion stingers

The flash of a diamond necklace
plunging into the icy waters
A tiny reflection of her face
in every facet

After she shattered, I kept those cobwebbed fragments
in a cardboard suitcase deep within the closet.
Stored that fistful of pale sand, and the darker one,
mixed them like salt and pepper in a jar.
Kept the porcelain doorknobs and rusty nails
The naked wooden spools, the locks I'd forgotten
the combination to
I knocked and banged them together

but never made anything from them
like she would have

Why have I held onto them so long
Why do I keep breaking into that echoing chamber
to stand beneath the chandelier
with open arms
as it stretches out its legs
and prepares to descend