Christopher Brean Murray
I’d never met anyone with so much promise.
He moved across the floor with a god-bequeathed
grace. The sublime seemed to inhabit the perfect
dimensions of his infinitely open face. His brow
expressed his thoughtful—though, at times, sorrowful—
take on life. The strife he encountered beaded
off of him. He was thin, yet strong. He was
incapable of wronging a peer, and to his friends
he was an invaluable asset. He could be your most
intimate confidante, or the jester who ribbed you
when you needed to be hoisted from the bog. He
was more loyal than the dog you thought infallible.
At what hour was it too late to call on him for help?
There wasn’t one. He was there in an instant lending
an eager ear. His very presence was the antidote
to fear. Once I saw him jimmying open a car door
for a stranger who was locked out. The stranger was
a knockout. She practically threw herself at him.
Yet, he remained composed. He got the door open,
he bowed, kissed her hand—then he gave her
a devilish wink. I didn’t know what to think. This was
my first glimpse of the change that was taking place
in him. He continued to apply himself to his studies
with a more than admirable vigor, but one time
a comment I made triggered in him a shockingly
irrational response. He swiped a vase from a tabletop
and stormed down a hallway. I was taken aback and
truly regretted my utterance. But I was also puzzled
and saddened. I tried to gladden his mood by suggesting
a game of pinochle. After a bit of coaxing he relented.
For an hour we enjoyed a suspenseful and invigorating
match. I, however, was appalled to notice that he was
cheating. I overlooked it for a few hands. I pleaded with
my eyes and dreaded the thought of confronting him.
He left me no choice. I stood and stated my accusation.
He buckled into a fit of crippling laughter. I endured his
insult and waited for an apology. He looked me in the eye
and farted loudly. I was bewildered. Had he lost his
mind? Had he forgotten the code he had obeyed
since we were children? I stormed out and didn’t
hear from him for weeks. I read in the papers that he
had begun to crash notorious affairs. Though his flair
was initially admired, his presence became scandalous.
At one function he vandalized an ice statue that had been
commissioned for thousands. The picture in the paper
depicted a rowdy, drunken caricature of the prince
I had once known. I was sickened. Late one night
my phone rang once, then stopped. It rang again,
and, when I answered it, I heard a shrill and ravaged
scream. I don’t know why I endured it. It continued
for moments. I heard waves crashing in the background.
I realized it was the end of him. I was composed. A silence
bloomed between us. I wished him good luck and
laid the receiver into its cradle. I stared forlornly
at my wife, who stood in the hallway in her robe. What
could I do? I asked myself that question many times.
I wracked my brain for an answer. Of course, I was surprised
when, a month later, he died of brain cancer.
AT THE GOLDEN NIGHT
What was the bundle beneath the blanket
in the hallway of the Golden Night Motel
on Friday morning? At first I hardly noticed
it, so consumed was I with the postcard
my cousin Bill had sent me from Puerto Rico.
I was reading about the one night stand
he had had with a bartender named Rosie
when I noticed the smell—an acrid mix
of brownies and burnt hair. That’s when,
out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw
the bundle shift. When I pivoted to get
a good look at it, it lay still, shrouded as it was
by a white cotton blanket. Next to it lay
a room service tray clogged with empty
plates coated with maple syrup as well as
some drinking glasses containing a few
centimeters of ungulped juice and many
crushed-out cigarettes. I took a step towards
the bundle and focused my gaze on it.
It was roughly the shape and size of a
regulation football, except for the thin
"peninsula" that extended away from it
towards the tray. Was it breathing? As I
continued to inspect the bundle, I noticed
a dark stain appearing on the blanket.
I contemplated knocking on the door
of the room closest to the bundle, but
it was equidistant from the two nearest
rooms. I took a breath through my mouth
and extended the tip of my sneaker towards
the lump. When my foot was an inch away,
I drew it back and considered walking on
to my room, sitting down before the TV,
and forgetting the whole thing. I fingered
the sweat-streaked key-card in my pocket,
and I decided to retire to my room. Then
the impulse swept over me like a wave—
I rotated and kicked the bundle full force.
A blood-curdling scream emitted, though
to this day I don’t know whether it came
from the bundle or from one of the rooms.
I hurried away since check out was at noon.
Though I stood in full regalia, my quad was
aching. The sky unleashed its spool of wind.
A cougar probed the canyon rim. Our allotment
of discord had subsided before the call came
for Desiré—her mouth more swollen than
the night she hurt her lip, plain-as-day
she screamed from beyond the grave. No one
at the homestead was bothered. Planter’s warts—
a cure had been found for them, an entropy
opening into new rooms brushed vanilla
at the lintels. And who was the man with
the blanched countenance, the one peering
into the back bedroom of the aerialist? He
was just an ogre on furlough, a savant
really, capable of astounding himself.
Once, on a brisk November morning,
I saw him cross the street on skis. Strange
what the Ferris wheel did to his head,
he knew this, which is why he turned
to cast me that glance, and I have never
been the same. I changed my ax, so to speak.
I purchased a calliope on a visit to New Haven.
The business I started ricocheted off its nadir
and smacked its head on the ceiling. Spring
emptied the petals from its pockets. A flicker
did a number on the ash. Contrails coiled
in the oblivious sky as if some fucking zygote
had washed up on the shore of Reason!
The reason I am telling you this is because
it is true. Just as the fallopians do their just
work, so must we all put a hand to the cord
and pull, yank again until the bell-toll
makes you wonder what size head you
have, and how could a hat encompass all
you consider to be yours, a kingdom of
wind-cakes. They play polo at the fairgrounds
on Thursdays. You should come down,
bring your life, I mean your wife. Her life
is yours times ten on a good day, said Tartuffe.
He’s here too. Sends his best. He has—
as I write this—fallen in the garden, he
laughs and can’t stop as the moss turns blue.
Sonata scores are whisked about.
Wind-chimes are abused by the breeze.
A grackle voices disapproval. A cummerbund
falls to the floor. Radio waves will kill us all
was what this documentary said but I think
it was biased. Anyway it didn’t prove shit.
Everything is going to turn out the way it’s
going to turn out. Otherwise we’re doomed.
RESPONSE OBSERVED THOUGH
NOT YET WELL UNDERSTOOD
How long can one like looking
at a silhouette so far away?
So far away that all one might say
one could see, is a silhouette.
Reading for an image. You can’t get
the face right. Another face you
can’t get right. Another expression
follows. A specific operational
sense. You feel like the generic name
of a number of trees. You almost light
your mouth on fire. Your fear of
what you might desire, of what that
requires. For a fire that is not far
from your face another expression
follows. A fire that is always following
a space in front of your face. Behavior
and consequence. The importance
of recognizing the complex and inconstant
composition of feelings. Near or far
some say, forever.
PART LION, PART GOAT
That’s an idea someone had. Myths.
There are so many different kinds.
In what has been an embarrassing night
out, time out. Have you ever needed help,
you didn’t get? She needs a note for her
rabbit. The man had a head for hurting you.
The woman wanted a wish for every
window. A division of living systems.
You had a beetle for a son. A photo
is your father. An immortal jellyfish.
One or more somethings are slightly
off. And then an awareness that this is
like that. You take a walk. You wonder
what will happen. There is mental
strength and there is mental character.
Processing power and virtue. These things
can inspire fear. But like the sun rising,
it can be good to encounter both by accident
and on purpose. There isn’t a picture, but
you could draw one.
TINY GLASS BOTTLES THAT CAN
FIT ON A DIME
Found lost, a subject under consideration.
A chapel. I get chills. I change. I don’t
want what I wanted. I want nothing.
I want everything. I want everything
and nothing, at the exact same time.
A painting burning. And the painting
burns so slowly. Here I am! A hand
from the trees. The fate of hands.
Here’s a suitcase and here’s a suitcase.
Not what you wanted. Not wantless.
Not a tree. I do not know you. Is it true?
Remember me by that door? Remember
me in that hat. Remember me off the road.
Remember me for fire. Remember dancing?
Remember me wanting ice? Remember me
forgetting? Remember me forgotten.
Remember me as gone.
ADD THIS TO YOUR COVER LETTER, AMY
Your life is interrupting your life. You’ve had it
up to here with grief. Sweaters don’t sew their own
seams, Amy. You doubled over on the sidewalk.
You nearly crapped in your pants. The wind blew
a dirty diaper down the street and you paid
your credit card bill twice. Why is everything
so obvious. You’re never going back to the sushi place
on Henry Street. You lost your wind once
and it was totally worth it. You wouldn’t do that
on a full stomach in front of the window washers.
What will you think of next in the shower, Amy.
Someone out there is dying and it might be you.
NO ONE PITIES AMY THE WAY AMY PITIES AMY
When you are great you will not use the verb to be so much.
You followed the bus as it headed to the next show
and the people inside were old.
You painted something beautiful quickly
and patched it up years later.
You sat at the head of the table but you didn’t earn it.
When you are great you won’t be shy,
will say more every time you speak.
You don’t want to be the kind of great
that makes people yell for more of the old stuff.
People younger than you are sometimes better than you.
The problem with downloading music
is that you can’t stare at lyrics on paper
the way you used to all day.
Your large brain knows pregnant women make you horny,
knows there is no room a great writer wrote on walls
like in a mental hospital that is undiscovered.
You should pick a topic and research it extensively.
All of you is covered in skin,
with wet skin in your mouth,
skin all over your body,
so much a person but little,
wearing cotton for children.
What will happen when you make a decision.
When you are great others will be dark with nothing like you.
You need looking after,
an ice pack for your eye
when you briefly go blind,
someone to organize all your ideas.
Birds are boring unless you think of them
Sootish city rain rains through you
but not on the new box set in the display.
Maybe you’ll buy it for you,
play it too long, sleep on the couch,
sick with legend,
wondering how come it is that you’re not great.
People have been banging on sticks since sticks were found.
You never cry, only snivel, cover your head with blankets.
This is what you say when you blow your nose:
You are not Bob Dylan.
You are not Bob Dylan.
You are not Bob Dylan.
BETSEY JOHNSON (AMERICAN FASHION DESIGNER, 1942-)
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel on the bus and my ass is full of
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel in slow motion and the world pretends
to pay attention for like…two minutes.
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel over Brenda Marsh’s tombstone
and the world’s high school principals rejoice!
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel to the Stray Cat Strut
and the 90s never even happened.
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel into a pile of cocaine with John Cale
and I just need it to stop.
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel and Edie Sedgwick dies again in her bed.
Betsey Johnson does a cartwheel and someone, somewhere
is eating bonbons off my future nipples.
JET LI (CHINESE MARTIAL ARTIST & ACTOR, 1963-)
“Jet Li!” is a good thing to scream
when you’re a fat, stoned, white guy
who gets paranoid at Taco Bell.
“Jet Li” is the name of the new
ladies razor by Bic that scratch
& sniffs like Taro bubble-tea, what.
Jet Li is a good person to go on
a date with, but only if you start at Panera
and finish at Brendon Fraser’s house.
Jet Li is a famous could-have-been
bodyguard to President Nixon
but he was like “um…? China uber alles, Dick.”
Jet Li is often depicted as the Dodo
in Alice in Wonderland’s tsunami of tears
when he stubs his foot on the floating furniture.
Jet Li is “the One,” but so is Neo
and so is every new guy anybody has ever dated
which is why I’ve basically given up on religion.
OLD TESTAMENT ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
Dandelion clocks will be your ward. Go on a rampage with a pageboy. Unzip your skin and pack it inside a suitcase. Where you are going, you won’t need it. How naked you will be! You will not be left alone. Your city will be a sea, under siege, a seizure. Pin rhinoceros beetles to your ankles and wrists as a defense against frostnip. The wings you receive in trade for your hands will be in the shape of downy parentheses like these: “) (”. The sea will steal your clothes, violate you in one hundred ways. With charcoal, quietly sketch the American presidents against the crests and quarters of stampeding palominos. If wishing, you will want words with double xs. You will desire wards afterwards with less illnesses. Shush, you will say then, the cowards are sleeping. Wet-nurse a death’s head moth. It will illicit your milk with a flutter of its wings. What you will love, you will lament. And then the burlaps filled with wrens will finally be dragged in. …
THE BLASTING CONCEPT
You—a raw wing, an unwired pulsar—will tune the downed airship of our enemies. You will wed the wind’s idiom to the tone of a diode in a radio pounding dub through an alpha wolf loosed. Yes, listen to your iron lung then. It is hungry. It expresses in heliographs its wishes to be filled with vermillion birds. How it gleams in the children’s ward! One day, you will be a dazed boy wading through swamp gases, where you’ll see wasp swarms amassed above glittering fields of data. The next, you will occupy my body, a clockwork, toothed, torqued. The tempest’s sound system will boom-boom theories of where bonfires neighbor horses. These theories will be simplified by the addition of buzz words and appear in vacation brochures dispersed in hotels lobbies, tractor trailers plowing the interstate somewhere beyond them. So imagine the lamb inside the wolf inside the registered child molester. Then see the sawing, the seesawing, the sea. Yes, see the sea, mildly slighted, the wind ignoring it. The wind is busy with making its idiom from origami, and all its labor is lost on a theater filled with tin ears. But the moon’s machinery still pulls. Watch the nude slob descending a staircase. And the breaking waves, had by the hair, won’t so easily forgive.
WATER MUSIC 2
I might as well confess it then:
My marriage to the lake came and went.
The lake wore a veil. I, plain brown shoes paired,
a bonnet made of bone.
I pranced in my saddle, though
more ready to buck. We shared estuaries,
specters, a wasp xeroxed.
Or, four vulgar flowers
drawn on the wall of a public bathroom stall.
We masturbated to microfiche.
Crazy with the gizz, we wished
no waters ever drowned. But the boys
were the lost lovers of a churning. And so
was I dredged. As the wild things often are.
I miss smoking and childhood
& today it’s impossible
not to concentrate on
what love doesn’t clean up
which is the plot
but really its
each other’s single choice
so plural at times
it prevents change.
By a bay I am lonely
by the horror of its form
operating like a fulfillment
which a frame allows
having to guess
how much space to
for the night where I am
cased in a building.
Can I really be out of it
there in beauty
gymnastics of anodyne
bashed in with
a common interest
riding the void
with punk. No matter
how dig I deep
I cant resist
the fourteen second day
dream dealt two thousand
times a day
wishes for tradition.
We have made it possible for one another
to do terrible things
trying to hold off a switch
to complete a map.
To abide by no more than
dotted lines ducking the unexplored
is something I’ve never asked for
Pretty soon all the streets
have gone out
in different ways I am
using my minutes.
I know this
if your brain is full starting
skills makes everything slower.
Drinking a pungent sunrise
no longer gives applause or pause
to be full of half-learned things.
A graceless grocery
every last bite
the bulk of second hand
that fools you into being full.
Even birds need
the right amount of gravity
to swallow to be
brought down when how
little of the world has changed
Inside anotherless morning
depraved skies’ cages
going stomp, sprig of myself
striking out on blank clouds
renouncing hobble, steering daythink.
All these years I now know I am.
Where’s the body water is?
A Moment to moment a moment
innumerable of new worth.
If there’s a clock that has me
speak wildly in the lips
I just stood from
I tumble of envy
from the kind colorful loneliness
the huge immune hills strapped in
a massing chatter it looks like a gas
leak instead of a will
refrain reaimming unappraised items
the leaves almost real sounds & dust
trying on the meaning of death
all levered hallowing spectacle fields
of long stratifications rubbing medicine
inside my chest as I gain time passed
through the heart brighter than my face
washed in language working a pack
to whom the hidden matters lose
all sense forming expressions
I know at least to hold onto
what unspeakable must be
the words in the insect All seem
so big then a simple flower
erects a statue as insertions enough
HERE DOES NOTHING
I’ve asked a blank
piece of paper
to wishbone, words
too quick to be rid of,
dream me back off,
it would not take gun-
point to fit me into
a simple question,
a chance more de-
finite than ever I was
worth, not knowing
gone came earlier
How could you realize that what came before you had such a lasting impact
The world that sweeps and stretches
That the nights alone or with friends out weigh in number and familiarity
That the image of myself is easily shifted and accommodating and when you are not here you leave the frame of the image
Your character walks off to another picture which I cannot see
I have understood our arrangement as that of perseverance and nonplussed
I have understood our unfulfilled ambitions and the off-shoot of companionship
The resulting binary working until it does not
Here is the stifled narrative
That one could be so blithe while the other is not seems like an irredeemable flaw
That one cannot sympathize with the water line, the swelled and shuttered wood, the books set out on the curb
That one can only hold fast to their own inscrutable line that is re-drawn state to state, night to night
which comes closer when the ego is satiated, further away when it is not
Further yet when there is weeping
And there is always the other side
Another sour bouquet
But even before all that there is some kind of purposeful disconnect
Some care to remain motionless, to be able to get away with little fuss
An invisible charade that only serves those who wish to remain invisible
It is true that despair is satisfying
That staring blankly at the television and smoking cigarettes at the back door on a clear night feel so sweet in their emptiness
I could loan you a periscope but the view would be partially obstructed
I could hold you accountable for the autumn harvest even when you prefer the southern wind
But as the trajectory of time shades dark and light the hope is that we are skirting toward something new
Loyal to tradition, the teller recreates;
writing is the destruction of memory.
Mount Ebenezer: small settlement on the
road to Uluru where buses stop for
the best apple turnovers in the world.
Secretly and unconsciously despised,
envied, and disparaged. I hate you, prick!
Of the fathers, a language of power.
Fathers speak too much, are punished for it.
The hardest step being the first, knowledge,
recognition that we do not live well.
Barely suppressed rage of a lost childhood.
Experience destroys faith in the senses.
Coming to one’s senses; worse is not to care.
Ethics is aesthetics, living with purpose.
Root of moral art, a reason to live.
Immersed in something bigger than myself,
that continues season after season.
Always the promise: tomorrow, next spring.
What to believe in, for to have faith is
to believe, it is never to know. Though
again and again I will ask you why,
"Why me?" I will learn to love, love myself.
The highest ethical state is passion,
a personal relationship with God.
Reciting the list is never boring.
It’s a passion that borders on madness.
Flowers are growing out of his head and
he could be seeing all these Clint Eastwood
movies. So much’s happening in his field.
All music is period, duration,
a fluid monument to time’s passing:
sensuous, senseless melody of words.
The brave people are those that mop the blood
with Clorox, who clean the brains off the wall.
Suddenly I feel well, whole, somehow healed.
We make ourselves as perfect as we can.
THE BOOK OF LOVE
My whole house gets sick. Not me.
Gets me wondering if I brought in the badness.
I start thinking about all those end of the world movies.
That’s my reference to bad things happening to people. Movies.
The last one I saw had Matt Damon in it called Contagion.
Larry Fishburne was in it too.
As the good guy,
he’s really fat.
Not the ladies in my house.
No one can hold down a spoonful of rice.
I run from room to room with towels, blankets,
little boxes of rubber bands that go boing.
What good is a rubber band when the only sound it makes is boing?
How do you find out what’s really eating you up? Go to the doctor?
Doctors are nice people
but they’ve got too much medicine to choose from.
We should all go back to West Virginia--the really wooded areas--
where there are no shopping malls,
where guys are trappin’ coon, using herbal remedies to jack out the germs,
fishing for breakfast.
It’s not a new thought, you know, and I’m no saint.
Some days I can hear the sirens coming really fast in my direction.
Other days, just the trees.
THE BOOK OF LOVE PART TWO
The dust is a thing to image before the dust.
Then there is death. How can you imagine that?
I imagine it everyday. The ambulance runs down the street
and I am in the back with a bullet in my hip.
I am the heat fields of Missouri.
I am an EMT with my hands inside the latex gloves
inside the man’s hip
trying to remove the bullet trying to get him back outside
into the imagination of his own decay.
Decay is an illusion between having children and having children.
There is just living.
The driver drives between one stop and the next
and she cannot see her road before she cannot imagine her death.
It is a piano and a voice at the exact same time
the way one bird will leave from her perch
and a siren will intersect the intersection before there is time to brake.
So many times the car brings us to the reunion of best friends.
So many times the airplane descends between the wind and a plateau.
The dust is an everglade that is clean.
When it is not clean we cannot imagine God before there was no God.
Maybe that is what death is, or does, to the final thought
before there is no more brain—
After that there is dust. That is what The Book tells us,
and the worm shows us
and the sponge that does the work of a thousand mules day after day.
A DONKEY IS AN ASS THAT HAS NO ASS
Donkeys don’t mean much to me except I read about the one in New Jersey
who has a house with himself and another house with his woman.
He travels back and forth between the two,
old frying pans and carburetors strapped across his back.
Sometimes the skateboard kids from up the street
throw empty cans of Mountain Dew at him.
Sometimes they throw full cans to watch them explode off his rump.
It doesn’t stop him.
He puts on his coat, straps on his reams of paper, his bag of potatoes
and moves through the streets like he’s king of New Jersey
even though he knows he’s just King of his own walking
and the muscles in his upper thighs.
Once a day he travels between kitchens and eats alone or with his donkey lady.
Cold sausage and peppers. Borscht. Baked chicken cooked in lemon.
What he carries he carries for the world—butterflies, politicians,
even blown up bombs
to remind the skateboard kids that meanness won’t last forever.
They’ll grow up, have children and be forced into kindness.
A mule is an animal that knows neither shame nor embarrassment.
A donkey is an ass that has no ass.
He loads himself up with mercy and paper towels, bricks and fortune cookies
If hope doesn’t come, it doesn’t come.
He licks the side of his face with his donkey tongue, regardless,
and ambles through New Jersey
drunk from the weightlessness of sky.
This is your night book.
And you’ve placed the beautiful snow
in the futuristic urn
and a sunburst for the luminist,
who studies the effects of light
on colored objects. In Lydia, where time was reckoned
in Olympiads, there was still
the meadowlark, the master gunnery sergeant
in the ambient grass, the olive
and its golden oil. As one rides supine
on a luge down passages of ice
at terrifying speeds, so you
are going there, where day
will come, and a peaceful city
will be luminous. Who called the city
spiteful and retaliatory, metal scissors
for the Lydian? The mooring masts
for zeppelins stand atop the towers,
speculative and glittering.
Now that the maximalists have spoken,
and now that the maximalists are here
and they have polished the classical arch
to a uselessly gleaming whiteness
while still the human eye is picking out
the specificity of grass and metal in the sunshine;
the steel-blue apples hanging heavy on the tree,
the bottle-green paper—one sheet and one leaf—
and now that the tropes have been exploited
on the tall illuminated billboards
let us turn our attention briefly toward
the green pearlescent night, the Heaven of Pearl
and its heavy book wherein the names
of the newly-born are ever being written
in the spaces that the newly dead have left;
the green and alabaster night, whose bannisters
are leading down to the water, where the paymaster
seeks his brief repose beside a silent
apparatus. That would be the clematis,
whose red vine is washed with icy water,
but will sing, after all, her aria at daybreak
but will not reflect the mirror image of her innocence
in opening. Under the cliffs, where the school
for machinists conducts its daily lessons,
slim lamp posts curve above the train tracks.
Pink bales of Thermafiber on the freight cars,
and here a sheet of crumpled blue metal
amid the dry and fallen leaves, the metallic
cry of the jay, the peeling yellow paint
of the conducting towers kindled in the nascent grass.
When all things have grown plain and clear
(as they will, for it is night--round and clear
as orient pearl, translucent sunflower of the waters)
no longer will the swung dash need to come before
each main entry in the lexicon, a star ablaze
above the lemongrass lest you misreckon.
When day comes, with warmer weather,
the mounted police, their sky-blue helmets shining,
come toward us from the trees, then disappear
into the foliage, just as abruptly, once again.
And we can follow them into the forest,
to where a glass bottle has left its
bottle-shaped impression in the interwoven grass,
and the violet clematis blooms beside
a concrete berm stained red with oxidation.
Here is where the night will come to its fruition,
just reclining here inside itself with the green
pearlescent forest, through whose leaves the city’s
abstract lights are shining from a distance,
night winding down, night orient, night contemplative.
There they are,
they are carried
toward us on the North
wind through the strange
of the willow from
the City Magdelenian
where they resided
from the plumes
of the Madonna lily
and underwent a transient
clouding of consciousness
nearly transparent before
emerging into wakefulness.
You were told
one planet would influence
your whole life—but
will you let it? We open
our eyes in the glorious
uncertainty of the law
(for we are masters of its letter,
but children of its spirit).
We destroy one another.
I am full of negativity
and criticism, I sleep
beside a febrile taproot—
and they arrive
in their flowered robes
and pale purple wings:
I’m awakened at 3 am to the sound of an owl.
It takes me a minute to find my glasses.
I press my face to the window.
A silver flash crosses the yard.
It settles into an owl shape on a nearby post.
My nose and eyes are stinging.
A stinging behind my face.
Like some kind of problem behind a billboard.
Why would a man look at an owl and start to cry?
My body is trying to reject something.
I have no idea what that is.
The owl is sitting in the moonlight.
The yard is completely still.
Little black ants are invading our bathroom.
They’re coming in through a hole in our tile.
Tonight I look at one walking all over my floss case.
I have trouble crushing the ants.
But if I inadvertently flick one into the sink
and stare up at a spot on the wall
I seem to have no trouble flipping the faucet on,
full blast, and hosing him down the drain.
Grandma says I should write “it”—should hose “it”
down the drain. “Him,” grandma says,
is too... and she pauses.... I’m on the phone with my grandma.
She has no idea what the fuck she is saying.
They say one of the hardest things
for young monks to master is
I close my eyes
and see a large man with a bright
orange vest and hard hat.
When a young monk is battling distraction
they send him down the mountain
to take tennis lessons from the heathens.
The large man is yelling down
into an open manhole in
the middle of 42nd St.
Something about Gustav Mahler.
It’s convincing, the young monk in the rain
with his wire basket of new balls.
Mahler had visions, Jerry!
The new balls smell like magic markers.
Grandma is still making her point.
This is what I like about her.
Her voice comes somberly through the little grate in my cell phone.
MIRACLE AND SCALE
The poem that wants badly to end
with BOOYAH must, instead, begin with a blue whale
as big as a fucking football field—
not the blimp’s silver spleen, hawking
sunscreen and Bicardi via bikinis—but bigger, heavier
like the 100 yards of turf and the concrete
stadium full of fans with painted faces and painted bellies,
doing the wave around the seventy odd players,
minimum 200 lbs a piece,
before the gear. That big.
I’m not sure, at this point, if it’s necessary to ask how
the leviathan can possibly exist. Maybe
the only question is how best to love the impossible
gentility of the creature’s blubbered mass. If I surrender
to the waves of its diluted pee and bodily
secretions, also known as all the oceans.
If I sort, if I recycle my plastics.
If I close my eyes, give my legs up to my knees
to the shore consuming my cells with sand
tumbled towards and away from its fanning fluke.
I could abstain from tuna fish—canned or sushi-rolled.
Or marvel, meditate daily
on its mansion-ventricled heart. I promise
my tetrapod legs will never be bipedal in vain,
vow to never let my articulated toes idle
unless in glorious swathes
of sun soaked park, or when wrestling
with my lover all the darkness from the night.
I swear I’ll do my best
to comprehend how the molecular structure of the sea
holds the Behemoth’s weight in its salty hand
like a shining alm. Life is crazy this way.
The way the dromedary calves
are born with little humps. So obvious,
and yet. A cave in Borneo opens so wide
a jumbo jet can cursive your name with blue smoke
in its pitch black yawn. Its carapace
cankered with magic—a galaxy
of twinkling glowworms. Their prey
first stunned by silks
then eaten alive, bite by tiny
tiny bite. The encyclopedian leaves
in South American rainforests are nibbled
by the dollhouse maws of the world’s smallest
Pudu deer. Black licorice hooves and eyes.
Lilliputian leopards, candy fanged,
crouch and pounce ferociously on moths
that are brushed with moonlight
or that are the winged lips, puffing dust up
and up, maybe to keep the sky aloft.
this leaf right here
can you hear me)
this leaf is red this leaf
these leaves are strewn
all over this
colorless goddamn town
& I’m writing this & I don’t know
what I might say
it’s already going to go
this leaf right here
is the one that will kill me
(I can’t imagine a better death)
this broken season of broken endings
& this breath escaping
from my lonely autumn lonesome
streets here are blurred & layered
with fallen yellows
& reds & oranges
& colors I can’t name
(they’re all fallen)
they’re no longer glistening
in the sky of an early turning
from their last
to the best new state
they could ever hope for
(can I still find my way
from fractured self to fractured self)
& now it’s over
(that moment’s over)
or is it over
(it’s never over)
or is it just the beginning beginning
going on forever
& ever & ever & ever & ever & ever &
this slow year
to its sudden sudden end
but it still goes on
the veins of each leaf
against the face
of this colossal this rough collision
one leaf for you
one leaf for me
one leaf for love
one leaf for
my empty hand & its empty drifting
your hair in tangles
your neck’s soft angles
your shoulders not trying to break away
not trying to break
& all these things that are not mine
& one leaf’s my heart
& one leaf’s this art
(there’s one heart in me)
falling from this tree
& one leaf’s my hope & one leaf’s your smile
& one leaf tells me
everything is all
more than ever
these leaves pure subject &
& there’s something here
more real than real
(that sounds so spent)
(sounds so heartbroke
bombastic & empty
or a car pulling away
from a last tender kiss)
my feeling’s real
my feeling’s mine
(it’s all mine
& it’s all yours too)
& I’ll talk all night
to make you see
the me you hear
is the real me
& this me is for you
one leaf for this
& one for that
a leaf for love
& one leaf that’s left
these words are plain
these simple words
I know there’s something
I want desperately
so I’m saying it
I’m saying it now
I’m saying it to you
I’m saying it for you
I’m not complex
I’m not a leaf
I’m not some broken
I’m not some faltering & fragile
there’s a me in me
& a leaf in you
there’s a leaf in me
& you’re there too
these words spill out
from my simple heart
hundreds of leaves
from hundreds of trees or
hundreds of leaves
from one tree (there’s one love)
& then it’s left
& then it’s bare
& then it’s not
but it knows what was
racing through the days
of this chilly goddamn season
not even rainbows can keep us warm
we don’t need rainbows we need each other
burning up this town
this fragile heart this now unleashing
this ever blooming
because I have a heart
& I have one leaf
one leaf one leaf
Fou Magazine © 2013 /// All images © Brad Soucy
Fou is Brad Soucy, Cate Peebles, and David Sewell.