The Mother of All Queens

This Luciferian tongue, this taste for salt and fire.
This home outside the cave.
So it’s a story not a promise then?
Landslides ruining familiar passage, forcing us into scary detours.
While in another sense, my heart is an angel’s heart, and my body a boy’s just trying its wings on an empty beach.
Snow blurs the only map left, mutes our voices as we hike deeper into the swamp where my father first threatened to leave me for dead.
Deeps we pretend are deeper than they are.
The Fluorescent Telepathic Octopus is the mother of all queens, including you.
Bluebirds in late November, a troubling loveliness notwithstanding the sentence prior to the sentence prior.
That fucking basket floated in muddy reeds a long time before it became a manger then a hospital on fire in Burlington, Vermont.
At critical junctures he did not hold me, being deprived of a mother to teach him how, and so now my grandmother has to leave the company of the other shades to try and make clear to me that no matter how hard I try and demonstrate otherwise, I am loved.
Chrisoula healing us both in and out of the pantry.
Still Corners’ The Trip.
Why do we insist that trauma is not the cause of suffering? And why do we need the one who suffers to be responsible for their suffering by failing to heal their suffering?
Stop making us watch the water for signs of monsters coming up from the graves to which you consigned them – this is not our war.
We sleep on wasp eggs now.
At night Chrisoula touches my cheek and murmurs, “ghosts are feelings you’re still scared to feel.”
Ways in which there is only one kiss.
Something we are together, even though one of us doesn’t know it yet.
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Weary Dogs (are Never too Weary)

Wanted to be Dylan, ended up a poor man’s Gordon Lightfoot. Something the shallows can teach us about skimming, something the deep teaches us about standing a long time on shore. Whose container are you now? Years later marveling at how I didn’t die, the sun so bright I went mostly blind. “You know that ghost is me.” You think something is moving in the corner but nothing is moving in the corner. We pause on the bridge, watching water pass in moonlight below us, one hand tightening in the other. As if? It’s true, you know – we get everything we want and it’s not what we want. The desert crosses interior oceans to rest in our shared heart, sort of like how weary dogs are never too weary to keep an eye on those they love. Falling in love again, miserably. In winter the prism is everywhere, is why winter. Some women don’t know you’re alive, some men wish you weren’t. You get to a point where there aren’t any good arguments left and then what? At dusk I drive home, fulfilling my part in a vast ancestral narrative. Nothing left to win, nothing left to lose. Hemlocks in my skull tattoo the sky with prayers only She can read. 

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Around a Big Fire

We meet at the back fence to discuss an informal cannabis cooperative, exhausted with how readily corporations steal what heals us. This world is not your father’s world, it’s closer to your great-great-grandfather’s world. I put the music aside – Liszt’s Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe – and try to make sense of the order inhering in snow falling. When he cried I slammed his head into the steering wheel. Her yellow shirt falling in – oh Christ, not that again. What do you say we all meet at a remote campground in Maine, eat a bunch of mushrooms, dance around a big fire, see what else the Miracles of Jesus have in mind for us? In those days you had to figure out alone what “faggot” meant. Mirrors need a light source and boys who have to save themselves need dictionaries. By not making sense in ways I’d come to expect, Gertrude Stein loosened certain bolts in my skull. A nightmare featuring snakes swallowing toads, hungry witches, Robert Frost poems and Newsweek articles about Gary Gilmore. She watches me cry from across the room – everybody backing away, nobody helping – whispering in me “go deeper into the grief.” Look at all these prisms! Look at how easily that crucifix became something beautiful. This woman saying gently in the Country of Grandmothers: begin.

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Five Shots of Whiskey

All but three of the poets who changed my life are dead now. This sentence arose in trance. Touches that indicate later more intimate touches are forthcoming. My uncles and cousins meet at the bottom of the sea, wreckage all around them, mocking my efforts to reach them, knowing that my destiny is sky. Something in us that won’t give up, keeps trying to make it all better, damn what the void and common sense point out. Five shots of whiskey left in this life, five more mornings without Her. Imagine baking a pie in such a way that the birds inside it are alive and still remember how to fly! How fast my father killed things and how only now that he’s dead do I understand what he was trying to not remember. The One Mind is not always full of blessings! We shit the bed dying, we puke our guts out in the back yard, we go to work and get it done, we aren’t complainers. Oh hey, look at the pretty snow falling, listen to the river murmuring in the distance. I’m in you in the way you said you wanted, now use me.

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The Hammer of the World

And just like that the basilica comes down around us. She led me by the hand away from the village into a grove of olive trees and we made love in hot dust, birds I’d never heard before rustling above us in the twilight. Jesus visits to say gently he’s happy to get nailed to the cross again – will it help et cetera – and when I say importantly “brother we are finished with that evil now” he smiles and points to my right hand in which – but how – the hammer of the world is poised to drive yet another nail into that famous body. The storm comes on slowly, rain then snow, then tiny gems of ice tumbling across the back porch roof. You could be happy with less. I remember a picture of my mother when she was eighteen on the wall in Nana’s last apartment and something awful in me makes a sucking sound, like a body being drawn from mud. As if? One hand on the shelf on which the pinto beans we grew this summer are stored, the other gently cupping her chin. Number of women I remember kissing on a Vermont river: five! We think we’re too special to die is the problem and it follows us literally everywhere. Meanwhile, deeper in the forest, Grandmother wakes the great bear and betrays your grandfather. Oh this bitter salt, this humbucker heart. Face buried in the holy fur, tongue praying the only prayer it knows. This family you undo in me kesidca, this dream of being finished swimming in pools of blood and semen. 

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Virgins Wandering Around with Buckets of Yak Milk

Look at her looking at the camera and ask what she recognizes if not you gazing back from a visitor’s gallery in the Utah State Prison. Iron gates closing, books flying off library shelves. Oh relax, the nineteenth century will not be done with us for another couple hundred years. War is coming, the very crucifixion you dread the most is coming, i.e., not liking what’s next has arrived. Coffee with cocoa and cinnamon, the kids playing Christmas music baking. There is a loss in me that sometimes reaches my throat – not unlike a snake or a ribbon – a spiral whose ascent never reaches my clenched jaws. Welcome to my education? You don’t have to tell me the blind horse is more than just a symbol, I’m the one living in his eye socket! Sucking dick in a Ford Scorpio at the far end of the Alewife parking lot, drunk and in the void. We are not the only ones with secrets! But this is neither a poem nor an apology, nor – actually – a history. I chased the witch from my dream into the earth, went in after her, and came to the stillness of right before the the cosmos is born. Stars in the east, virgins wandering around with buckets of yak milk. Sure, whatever, go ahead, begin.

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Wounds with Grace

All night I was saved by voices in my head that like to play with words. I remember her last apartment, this woman whose anger I was created to heal. Look at the chickadees giving glory to God!
The hemlocks are set in such a way that dawn and not dusk fills them with light. Fuck forethought, am I right? A woman whose gaze has traveled all the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro, whose songs circle the earth, binding every one of its wounds with grace.
What else is “part of being human?” Listening to Fleetwood Mac, wondering what Thérèse thought of dance. I shall not continue to deny my perfect imperfection!
Go your own way indeed. Chrisoula and I stay up until nearly four a.m., talking about our grandparents, their sleeping habits, and their grandparents, who are lost to us. Theora asks why it always has to do with the pantry and I anwer it’s obviously a critical living out of the connection between hunger and sustenance, no?
One longs for the peace that comes from knowing what they are in truth, which they already know but expertly hide. Nobody broke me in a final sense but goddamn there’s a lot of hurt in here. Look at all the separated ones auditioning to be the One!
Recovering the truth is like telling a story but also like understanding the story already being told and somewhat paradoxically consenting to live the story which – in a way I cannot really explain, probably because I’m wrong about it – has to do with being destroyed. Firestone wasn’t stupid so why didn’t he take the last step? The shirt to which I refer was yellow and still floats in that Albany motel where every guest sees it in their dreams and wakes up afraid of the void.
Firestone writes ” . . . most people reject, manipulate or control their environment to avoid personal interactions that would contradict or disprove their early conceptions of reality” (43). Troublemakers of the world unite!
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Forever Falling through the Cosmos

The earth turns away from the sun, the sun forever slipping away beyond the Taconics. The moon is a bundle of clouds. The Christmas cacti are blossoming, they look right now like pursed lips, teasing a future kiss.
Truth is so pure, like melted amethyst, like our love before either of us were born. My uncles and cousins drink at the bottom of the sea somewhere off the coast of Rhode Island, forgetting me as our shared mother insists they must. This is not darkness – this is another way the light appears.
When the petal fell off the poinsetta Eleanore left as a going away gift it seemed to call for a poem and yet I resisted the impulse, holding the petal in mind – seeing it fall – and thus know it falls forever through the cosmos, like Denise’s yellow shirt in that Albany motel. We joke via text about Doritos, sex in the shower, fudge recipes and our tax returns. It’s reflections all the way down – did nobody ever to tell you?
At a distance voices that have no gender but are clearly happy. A way that cities appeared in the 1970s when I was looking with eyes that had yet to declare their allegiance to prerogative. On the other hand, maybe it would be nice to take tea with another woman.
Whiskey shakes. I pause as always after throwing morning hay to the horses, letting them know I love them, checking the fence lines and the sky. We are like molds through which quicksilver flows, we are like whatever the molten metal poured through on its way to becoming a mold for the quicksilver.
Moonlight at three a.m., wandering through the pasture to the town park, sitting on a swing and floating a little, happy and amazed that such gifts are still given, the world the way it is. Days pass without word and one grows quieter, going deeper into an interior landscape for which no map or fellow traveler has ever proved sufficient. The things one misses when one is attentive mostly to sentences.
Sorrows, solaces. I mean going back to bed for once, letting suffering go.
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Capitulating Near Dawn

A petal falls off one of Eleanore’s poinsettas. Years pass. In Albany my heart broke, ever after in need of suturing, and yet I would undo none of it, not even the yellow shirt nor the cheap motel in which it floats forever. How lonely one can be at Christmas! The moon half full, somewhere off to the west, pulling with it many seas and rivers. We are all mountains capitulating. Near dawn an octopus waits for me by the hemlock trees, a loveliness undulating I accept on my knees. We can in so many ways fly and do! Moonlight in early December renders the whole earth a cathedral, and one passes through it both wondrous and grateful. You are not forgotten but nor are you precisely remembered. Eden becomes Purgatory, Purgatory a city you visited as a child, and the child a confused but not unhappy man. The envelope is closing – you must choose quickly to leap inside or out! A storm coming, a bad one, whispering to me in a language I am sure to one day learn.

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My Loneliness is Nothing at All

I write hastily – shitty coffee, Jeremiah making breakfast, cat on the table. When we want to run, is it towards or away? Nontrivial questions that it turns out are trivial, my attention about as sharp as soft butter these days. And yet always “and yet.”
Bittersweet encircling the second-oldest apple tree grows dull as temperatures climb in unseasonable ways. Conversations about ice-skating to pass the time, mind ranging – skating perhaps – over half a dozen memories of skating, each moving me further away from all frozen surfaces. How much of our childhood reflects our parents’ experience of childhood! I prefer mittens to gloves unless I am working and even then.
We are bound to repetition in ways reach beyond our narrow sense of “self.” I write “desert” – and it’s the right word – and yet there are oceans hiding somewhere, happy to be noticed, not needing to be chosen for this or another poem. When Rilke felt his rhythms go slack he started sleeping on the floor, and James Joyce often sat in the backs of Catholic churches across Europe, thinking God knows what. What is the moon but clouds embracing?
Jogging past the village into darkness thinking about bears and trout and what it means to be hungry. Stars are not lonely yet sometimes when I watch them alone – the vast celestial landscape against which my loneliness is nothing at all – I wonder if maybe they’re lonely. City traffic. Somebody mentions their dog in a conversation I’m not even part of and I start gasping and choking back sobs, have to leave the room, wander outside to where I think nobody will go and curse certain ghosts and allow certain others to come close enough for whatever thin comfort in my grief I know to offer. 
There is only ever truth and the winding roads of which it is comprised. “God is in all things” is a way to see it, but “there are no things” is better, and God is beyond the reach of language but – Wittgenstein notwithstanding – you and I shall speak of Him, and all things shall be made luminous thereby. Kisses at a late juncture in order to learn that time is beside the point. Damn but that manger filled up fast!
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