Focal point of repeated ekphrastic stanza

thanks, Gregory Crewdson


All knowledge is partial knowledge,

all being is complete being.


She lies in the bed of the living room’s flood.

In the shower, he reaches under the floor boards

for the dropped soap.

She sits on the bed with the dead rose bush

on the pillow.


Hitting everything you can, asking it

to be a gong which is not a gong, a bell

which is a minding of its own business, thank you.


So much privacy.


Just this strand of hair

I can’t tell you about. Long, yes,

innocent of hair color, yes,

protein, you know that, DNA, the helixing of a code

as the dance can be mapped by feet

on paper: yes.


Still a stranger.


Then I was me and it was snowing.

My coat outside because it had been to the bar

the night before to smoke.

Sheltering the need to tell you something,

that my dog has gone deaf but hears with her nose.


As soon as you open your mouth, you are asymmetrically beautiful

and in error.


Everything you could ever know

about your skewed lips is contained in that smile.


You are in that way epistemology.


You are in that way whole.


You can’t begin something

by denying the propriety of its conception.


She lies in the bed of the living room’s flood.

In the shower, he reaches under the floor boards

for the dropped soap.

She sits on the bed with the dead rose bush

on the pillow.


The woman who lost her purse calls her purse.

Her purse answers with her voice

telling her to leave a message.

Where are you she seems to be asking herself

though she is asking her purse.

The phone listens as long as it is programmed

for patience.


A theory of knowledge is like that.

It gets lost. It calls. It answers. It refers to itself.

It carries a handbag.


He came down from the mountain to magnet a note to the fridge,

“I’m not coming down from the mountain.”


The last step was to make a scale model

of the scale.


She lies in the bed of the living room’s flood.

In the shower, he reaches under the floor boards

for the dropped soap.

She sits on the bed with the dead rose bush

on the pillow.


But I have to tell you:

I was certain of something on the way home

looking out for deer.

It was clear, like a photo staged for itself,

meant to be held before a mirror

as you turn away, your hands

all that are required of you, not your looking

at this private conversation.


Go to www.hungryforbrains.yum.

Tell them I sent you.

Tell them the instructions are in Spanish

and you read them all to be sure

you can’t read them.

Tell them you’ve learned to arch you eyebrow

above the hyperbole.

Tell them every gesture is wanted,

to stop sending “waving our arms at the moon”

to bed without supper.

Tell them the Greek said if we take half steps

we’ll never reach the crackers.

Tell them you are the prototype

of one giant step forward.


Listen to me: so full of advice.

I’m the last person to believe about anything

but being me.

I’m good at that, not that the product is good,

not that sales are up

as far as I can tell. Sales are down.

They broke the mold.

Feel the cracks in my chakras.

Light a fire for me to understand where you are.

This is someone’s happy birthday.

You call it consciousness.

I call it waking in the midst of singing along.





A least feast


A long time ago I knew a woman

who ate only fruit. She was only pretty,

only smart, only weak when she told me

how healthy she felt being motored by apples

and oranges. Then I never saw her again.

I’m still never seeing her again I thought


the other day groping fruit

as you turned your head like she did

into the word “prairie.” It occurred to me

some of us could be related by as little

as fingernails, the same moon slivers

in our reaching, and that I might


burn wires in the same crouch

as a boy in China over an open fire

of getting the copper out, with whom

I’m otherwise in no way connected.

His breath is toast, this boy, this any one

of how many eking a way by killing

themselves quicker than quit would au natural


kick in. The economy of want feeds the ecology

of need, I think is what I said all hush

in my head as you explained how these North

Dakota towns are reverting to wind and cats

and wolves as you bought grapes we loved

to death, one by one on the bench

beside the pond where swans was

but ain’t.





An image play: Center stage


A little boy kneels center stage before a fish tank.

The fish are brightly colored, oranges and blues

out of Cézanne. The boy’s arms are full of white roses.

One by one, he lowers them into the water. The fish

swim around the stems as if nothing has happened.

The boy removes the roses, whispering to each one

a question the audience can’t hear. He’d like to know

if what his father told him is true, that the fish

don’t realize their whole world is a few gallons of water.

He does this several times—puts the roses in, removes them,

asks them a question—before he realizes the thorns

are cutting the water. He drops the roses, runs off stage,

comes back with bandages and mercurochrome. The tank

and roses are gone. Where the tank was, the boy finds

an oily rag. Still feeling sorry for the water,

he bandages the rag after applying mercurochrome

to its stains. The lights go down. When they come back up,

there’s a clear drum center stage with a man’s head inside.

The man is shouting but no sound comes out. A left arm

descends and slaps the skin of the drum. A crow descends

and lands on the arm. A cloud descends and is worn

like a hat by the crow. The lights go down.

When they come back up, a thimble rests center stage.

A woman in a black dress lies down and places

her open mouth over the thimble, seeming to kiss the stage.

The fish tank full of roses descends until it rests

on her back. The boy and man walk out holding hands,

the man wearing the drum, the boy on stilts

that make him as tall as the man. The phrase

“WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” is projected in yellow

on the woman. From the wings, the sounds of a crying baby

and rain against a metal roof. As the curtain descends,

the proscenium arch collapses. A man and woman

wearing tool-belts come out and scratch their heads.