Windows Down, Let It In

A beat-down super-heated morning, and the tainted sun’s a boiling yellow welt.
It stews the roadside table of begonias and geraniums supported by cinder blocks.
The air’s heavy with struggle, charged breath.
I flick the AC knob, pump the air, recycling the cool until
turning on the country road, compelled to drink suffocation,
I press the buttons, windows down.

Bad mustard breath floods the car, smells of muddy creeks,
grit and leaves, breezes shoving, stereo bellowing at barking trucks.
I join something native,  veins swell on my hands like fossil prints in shale.
A pregnant sky cracks: zippers shred, ripped shrieks, compounded shocks.
Gowns of water drape over corn fields.

Beneath monstrous covers, a nuclear heat-bomb
slides off the horizon.
Oppressive fallout spills paint
on my conscience, which has failed
to curb or confess its desires
colored like bloody plums, rotten peaches.

 

 

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From ‘March ’79’

by Tomas Transtromer

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves out in all directions!
I come across the marks of roe-deer’s hooves in the snow.

Language but no words.

 

The Other Side

The nervous whiny groaning fan has stopped.
Windows open now, balmy air pillows push in,
Schubert plays soft, trembles beside the birds.

So this must be the other side of
fruitless blood rush, desperation plucked,
something heavy lifted, cut, gently led away.

A tropical depression looms, not here yet —
the wet stench of groaning absinthe days
staved off, parked off the horizon.

The piano doles impressions, helped by breeze and milky sky,
but how can Schubert, birds and silky air
speak to my sickness, sweat, and wreckage?

They’ve come anyway, compassionate friends
like a pool dive smashing voracious heat
or a wine cork popping off the pressure.

They whisper, don’t suffocate, open yourself,
tell the silent dry streets what you need,
what you want to do. Take a breath.

Thus lessened by longing, weightless and slow,
I feel the melody recede, soften to tonic,
the rope between you and me gone slack.

My knotted fist blooms, and free your memory goes,
that was always distant anyway,
drifting, aloft, held in light.

 
(Schubert -Opus 90, D899, No. 3 in G Flat Major, Andante)

Unorthodox Stiff Collar Treatment

In full disease she sighed two-faced relief,
in the neighborhood with sycamore trees
where they’d met the deep-end, steamy and wet.

She’d smile, reflected in his sunglasses;
every grain of sand unaccounted for;
he thought they had no time for false belief.

He thought, it’s now unorthodox to see
confession as duty, though stiff collars
were back in fashion for the young and slick.

He bucked the trend, confessed desire to her,
like a small man in muddy uniform
delivering a foul, pungent package.

She laughed, the truth incognito no more.
He saw her instinct dressed in black fishnet
scraping the sea beneath a bleeding sky,

his true words stranded like beached jelly fish–
broken glass dials receding in the surf.
Nobody, least of all her, wanted them.

 

Checkout line

“Are you still open?”
She nods, frowns, and scans
the customer in front.

Snickers, tic-tacs, milky ways,
faces in the stalls: askance,
eyes that don’t look back.

Magazine cover girls watch us,
don’t mind if we stare
but can’t offer gum and conversation.

Our nervous eyes deflect,
we swipe credit cards,
wait for validation.

Who would be the first to hack
a way through the sticky,
thick nougat center?

Who would fold receipts into bracelets,
play sword fights with grocery dividers,
sing of ripe melons and aromatic coffee beans?

I wish I could juggle avocados
and announce to every open stall,
“zombies and automatons are out of service!”

Let’s check each other out unashamedly,
say something, anything real —
let Love be alive and available.

Ends of the Earth

When I want to perform special errands,
I map a path to your place,
but boundless earth offers no ends.

My dreams are flung like seed.
Sparrows pick them up
from spent November fields.

Leaves lie about dying,
clouds flash ironic smiles,
invite the coming frost.

Fruitless, I scramble over rocks
draped in slippery moss,
find open doors, rusted hinges, empty houses

follow the coast,
watch boats that could be you
slip toward horizon.

I face impossible seas
like the Irish king
who marched into the foam,

delusional, cursing fate,
a heavy sword hurled at
unforgiving waves.

I drop the regal metaphor,
find horseshoe crabs
mating on the beach,

ancient garbage, dead cliches
revived, living fossils
drawing circles through time

How the poem starts

Take a red hoodie, leave it
on a little league dugout bench
mothers drive off with kids in vans.

In the dentist’s waiting room,
leaf through magazines years out of date
let your tongue probe gums for the missing tooth.

Feel the cool draft sweeping through
an open window followed by a blue
siren stopping at your door.

You might see it approach from anywhere,
the previously scheduled program ends,
a slice of lemon falls in a glass,

after gripping the side, giving way.
Your windpipe provides air
for an overheard or recollected song,

a word gathers in the throat
like a ball breaking into the strike zone;
you make contact, it charges off the bat

a balloon floats away
a shadow traverses the grass
rifle shots riddle the storied sky.