after Charlie B.

Be. Drunk. Break through the chatter like a wrecking ball through brick. End in silence like stone ruins of a monastery. But fill in the space between with something beautiful, something with long drunk legs and glittery drunk eyeshadow, something with pillow-tossed hair and a bottle in her purse. Something with something to say.

Be drunk, he said, and across the ocean they were dying by the thousands, and how hard it was to break through the chatter of shrapnel, the whirring omnipotent smack of hate. Thirsty to believe in something, they died. In fields and field hospitals and camp beds, died drunk on belief in some Cause while their brothers slump-marched home, hungover.

Still, he seems to say, still, be drunk. Because drunk is home. Because drunk is the exotic furtherest edge of guessing. Because drunk is you asleep in my bed on a Saturday night, turning to clutch me close as you snore somewhere far away, the music always too loud, the pen never far from the page.

what i found inside the black box

so much
can happen in a decade. in a night filled
with spiral-sta(i)red decline. things

to hold on to, in sacred letters tall as a man:
to touch. you should have known
there: tangere, like want. volare, to fly.

i’ve forgotten the past tense.
plusquamperfect amaveram,*
but only in the wrong tongue. she died.

now that coat hangs hung, like a wish,
starched with thin veins, so much in a decade.
some things you hold against forever.

memoryclamped. what if you could fly then,
glasseyed and steady. beads tight round
white wrist, to want with small fingers.

something many-touched to hang on to
in the night. meant to hold not to cut, meant
to hold not to cut. meant to hold not to cut.

 

*translations all from the Latin. amaveram is the first-person plusquamperfect tense of amare = I had loved.

ghosts always come out better in black and white

untitled
This poem came out of the ekphrastic workshop we did at Crossroads Art Center last weekend, and was inspired
by the untitled piece by photographer Mel Talley above. To see more of the artist’s work, check out meltalley.com.
 

“Koi grow exponentially to their surrounding, as artists do.”
–unknown

There is a poem just outside
the frame of the photographer,
its filter heavy-lidded, its contours
soft-lit and stark. It is covered in a sheet
of memory, like a Hallowe’en costume,
dense and grainy and a little
sad. It has questions like

What regrets do you hold
by cobwebbed brass handles,
only half-wanting to let go?
What doors do you wish
you had left
open? What good is your strong left
arm against shadows, black
on black?

i remembered the fish
in the pond to the side
of the philosopher’s path,
orange and glowing. Then
i read this today, and
understood:
“Make no apologies for your breathing.”

There is no coyness
in creosote dreams.
(You cannot connect.)
The poem will laugh at you,
and still you will try
to catch it costumeless, naked.
Always fuck with windows
open. Always end with a jab….