Given my hero worship
and your enthusiasm
let’s hit the road and
we can reshape
Of course we might ignore
active orders, turn and
escape, loose and free.
But first open the trunk,
dig down deep, reach
your arm into the thing,
discover what’s of use, sunk
to the bottom, and read.
There’s a new poem this
Take in the words. Breathe
if you can hear them. Could
be a map, if you squint.
Tilt it at an angle,
shut your mind up good
and tight, say it out loud,
scream it into the blistering
wind, think it. Think
it. It’s because we’re so sad
that we left. It’s because
this ocean’s too close. It’s
not comfortable. It’s anything
but. Listen, please
listen. Who cares if you’re
lonely, sick, depressed, a
poor excuse for citizenship.
When I look at you, for
a moment I see myself
transcribed the way
a mirror does it. All right. I’m
anything but. Or else
we share a history,
harmonious or ugly.
A nightmare, a dream,
So are you with me, are
you with me.
After Wang Wei and Sarah Howe
You come from my hometown and should know about things there.
Has the winter plum2 before my window3 bloomed?4
1. Miscellaneous Poems: Sporadic impressions or trifles that are produced
at any time. Poems of uncertain title.
2. Winter plum: “Cold plum”; plum blossom in winter.
3. Window: Carved patterned window. Here, it is a pattern of silk.
4. Bloomed: “Opened flower”, “opened bloom”.
The lyric protagonist lies close to life, a household mirror, or an artist’s sketch
of miles of streams
of people coming home to see their relatives and friends. Exceptionally warm
familial eagerness. So,
what sort of thing do you want to know about strangers living in different places?
Soon our provocative protagonist’s imagining
you in the shapes of blossoms at his window. Using plum blossoms as a substitute
for many things, not only form, but also poetry,
the commonest household affairs, the cold, things he’s misplaced, and, at the same
time, the lofty character
of his allegiance. The whole thing laid out as
It’s hot in the middle of the storm. It’s humid
gray. Makes the dust bloat. I can hardly breathe in
it, air moving too fast for me to hold onto, wind’s body
swimming over mine. Like being in a room when all
anyone wants is a little power over you, arms stroking
against heads, black wide glass eyes darting, staying afloat...
In dance class we are told to fall forward–
hurtling our bodies ahead, asking to be caught
by our selves once we get there. What I put forward as
flesh gets pushed back by wind. Our bodies hurtle against
each other, one risen from the sea, one made out
of clay... Power is a series of erasures. You fall into it. You
push against it. It pushes back. The wind is full of coyotes
saying, saying –
Some days, I say, I don’t think of it
at all. I wake up having already been loved
by the entrance of the day, the day that says come out
now. The day that says the earth is your friend and you
have a secret between you– it is your life. You walk out
under the blue carpet of night and see planes migrating
overhead, then a fountain, this magnolia tree, its pink
fisted buds newly unclenched, dormancy beat open,
pushing up against the seed-coat... Here we are,
we did not ask to be woken, though it was not easy,
not safe, we open as oblations on a dark branch,
pink-veined luscious mouths drummed open by rain.
A voice inked with water and wind rises. And the black
the brick path worn deep into so a bruise of moss blooms out beneath
the surface of the whole—one day i stood
upon a wicker seated chair & fell at once & that same thing took hold
within both shins. a swollen marsh. among the cherry blossom trees
at alishan, windows are made in certain trunks & crutches bear
up certain limbs. the boardwalk
opens for these bodies as devotional. the cedar forests
blur the light with cedar fragrant mist, from a thousand year
old stump mushrooms another, & that second stump in turn buds
with the grandchild tree. roots murmuring through gills. a placard reads:
the first sacred tree fell in a storm, whereupon local government
arranged a fair election for another one. we arrive at bleachers
semiluned around the newer tree, the vapor rises through us as a chill
or memories of isthmus thin enough that on the road
water entered into each eye, we drove a golf cart along the caesura of a long
rhythmic line to somewhere murderers had once unearthed
innumerable woman figurines. picture working the earth of the body
open with one hand & stretching in
for a shape of clay, of bone, of dark moss in your image. of jelly. for the seam
of loam. under the skin’s a humid place
you won’t want to stay long. now out of which
i conjure a long line of mothers, each one sick in her slow way
holding her cup of water, going towards bed. how tired she is, she says.
can we not let her rest.
The way my doctor goes about it
seems to allude that anything is a well
some distance from total drainage.
It is true that my body has endless
things to say to you who touch me
through the sleeve of this day mist.
The earth was made too vain to consider
that any one thing must gones for another
to preen. All of the parts of me keep
reaching like mimosas for touch
and killing themselves. In the last of my most
hopeless weeks in Boston as it was slow
wintering my only pleasure was to drink
glass after glass of orange juice by myself
watching what could have been the end
of my life. But I don’t think I can ever
be finished; I’m in love with far too many
countable things. And there are all their names
to learn. Whatever you say I’ll plant
a thousand flowers to retaliate. Always
you want to be special in your nothing
but there is the pail of your body working
against its own current insisting
with unweary voice there is no end
just water on water on water.