Humorless, shy, and pedantic.

3 adjectives to describe someone I met in passing, and of which I am aerobically pleased.


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pink fish

drop your face
all that black mask talk
goes to waste

drop your face
it was all a waste
of time

i need a deep sleep
i need a deep sleep

prone to reacting
i dropped my face

prone to reacting
i dropped my place

pick the parts of it
pick at the parts of it
i’ll go to sleep now

with the pink fish
the pink fish

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I wanted to make you a tune
Reminiscent of the pale adolescent moon

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we crossed into the west,
in my dream, at last

the curve of the canyon cut
into the wayward heart of it.

the lazy fish circled
as siesta hours in deep july

my eyes were still
and the glass jar of the sky swung down

the world grew beautiful
and the ache of my spine when
it shattered

lapped it away
lapped it away

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trumpet troo

trumpet troo
good gents and juliets
here’s the moon
to tempt you into waltzing
the old good waltzing
we used to do

trumpet troo
chasing shadows
down the meaty spines
of the dictionary and the pedias
dining as fine
as we used to do

trumpet troo
lost my mama’s brooch
for waltzing too hard
side effect of sidecars,
and being twenty-two.

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are we kin?

well, are we?

i keep asking myself what part to retain and what part to give away.

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California Etude #4

Shoulder your grief, my pale girl
Rend the shroud they wanted to bury you in,
Steal the horse from the squire, and kiss the
Yellow cat goodbye,
Shoulder your age, for though you are too young
For this sharp road, if you find your steps
Stumbling towards the mecca
Blurred horizon, line of trees
Ride forever, and teach your gaze
To go unwavering forward,
I will line the coming storm with
Windbreak birch trees, shale eaves,
Sharp points of birds to carry the cloud shade
For your wake,
Some nightshade bough will catch you
From nightmare, some tawny hawk
Will lift your tiredness on a wingtip,
But go my girl, before the branching
Hour closes, and fate sings you to dull sleep
On a prisoner’s bed.

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California Etude #3

Plant my heart in the deep soil
The gold loam behind the house
Will take it
Because nothing else will,
Get the slanted knife, rust flowering
The edge so lightly, and
I will find the slate-stone sharpener
And make it new,
Afterwards, I will cauterize the wound
Before I bind up
My kerchiefs, long skirts, my Tuesday best,
My toothbrush, my cup,
And buy the ticket to take me
Some town so safe and anonymous
It’s forgotten its own name,
There dress gardens in bleak white lilies,
And be so dreamless, the mourning dove
Makes a stave in my eaving,
And only some nights
Only sweet and wicked nights
Think I am sleeping on the shoulder
Of the black granite boulder
Set over the heart behind the house
Where you keep watch for
Whatever might grow.

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California Etude #2

Caught in the net, the net,
The net of my own hair,
I am not taking care of any part of me,
Fell apart a long time ago
Drove too quick down old country roads
No ghost told me her secret
To carry me through
The crest and fall of each breath
Like the passing of empire,
Then let this be
The net of the world,
Shuddering in its own proximity,
Why else shroud the mountain feet in
Steering mist?
Why else let the night fall on your back
But to inhale the distance of the stars
The ghost of stars,
Daguerreotypes of stars?
You and I in the net, too taut,
Our skin scored with the things we could not know
Fell open,
You cannot fall open, without you die,
Despise me, each shorn yearling,
The month of August will pass,
Come deep harvest your sweet
Guts will paint the earth
In mottled burgundy and palest pink.

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California Etude #1

The day was late –
A decade late, or more –
Still, nothing is pristine
Not yearning, and not this,
Yearning’s ghost, meandering
Past the hunched trolls of
The lobotomized mountains
Shouldering loss stoically,
Telling the pine trees to grow stern
And strong in despite of
Avalanche, axe, and age.
Crag on crag, and where
The green earth gaped
Limpid sky, I said aves to
The still pond water.
And when we reached the ocean
My twisted insides
Unfurled, or twisted and snapped,
Not sure, because the ocean swallowed
The edge of the sky,
An exhalation so long and low
I broke my forehead in its glass wake.

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the city lies to me,
i love you, city,
your lies are crepuscular,
steel sentinels of the dreams
we are spending,
like deathbed misers
on elixirs rainwater and charcoal
quick! quick, the lights
will turn.

the lights turned
chilly wire turned hot
more lies, shard glass
it will pass, this shadow
will pass.

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York Takes the Steam Boat to Brooklyn

i have buried my bones

and buried my bones

and buried them


goodbye, sweet faced stain

run the length of the



sat and suckled

all the sweet summer long

the wounds of your mother

her grasses

her songs

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don’t you know
don’t you know
don’t you know

this is the hole
this is the hold
this is the hole

in your head.

let me into the wound
at the base of the old pine
let me gather and skitter
and skin, to clear a patch

by the cropped capillaries
tenderly sip and suck
your starry axons,

and by the moss that drips
by reddened grass to lie my head
in the good dew

into the hole in your head
into the hold
into the hole

where i sleep under the sleeve
of slowly mending skin.

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my heart is melting like the rose,
pulsing thaw at winter’s close,
between the magpie and its bier,
the mangle root and the holy spire,
there spins in a helium bloom
above the city’s tangled gloom

my heart is tippling like a drunk,
gaslight warbler, warmly sunk
by the maple and its marbled folds
tangling the outward air, my clothes
are turning into the wind’s fingers –
in the wood, a godwit cries and shivers.

my heart a ghost, still ghosting,
in the winter she sets haunting,
watch me, i pass through your skin
head of lead and pressed silk nothings
brave me, the east wind, the lakeside,
stave and holly, root me deep in the tide.

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i don’t like you, natalie shapero,
i don’t like you one bit
what with your avocados
and your slinky wit
and the three poems of yours i scanned
quick and sidewise on my computer at work
before writing this ode to you,
that are bitterly, bitterly sweet.

you are probably skinny, natalie sapero,
(I just checked on google, and you are,
and you are probably a good person too,
just my luck)
i don’t like you, natalie shapero,
but i can’t hate you, natalie shapero,
because we both went to law school
which, admit it, you,

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in the west

is it eternal flame?
some hidden particle –

i slept
i slept on a bed
the bed was made for me
with crisp linen and cool sheets

and i rested my cheek on your rib
smooth and white
tucked neat by my eye
and stripped of flesh
so soft and so worn
like a friend’s palm
in the long night to keep me

the wind rose and fell
the wind rose and fell in my hair
and made the bed clothes shiver

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the this



first snow
you stood on the bench
outside the bar,
bellowed: snow!
to the red chicago sky,
my towed car
stalled, while
we drowned pine cones
and pair of bewildered cats
curled on aubergine sheets
winter passed over
your mother of pearl walls
and threw light
like street salt,
unblinking january sun
and drugged by terror, tempest, touch,


my bones moved
they grew used to you
(you always smell like laundry and you,
sometimes now i smell like you)

sometimes now i don’t know
the way i lived when it was just me,
some days
can’t remember how the world looked
when it was just me.

your spring allergies
trail of kleenex, neap tide,
snail we saved from the tent was
the eye i saw in your eye,
the fan makes me cold
huddles me nearer
time moving and i not moving
not moving away
from this highway light
this blue line light
this red string
light is better
in the trees

i sometimes knowing



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someday I will sail in a wooden ship
a wooden ship with snow white sail
I will forget the pain of you
my best and dearest friend,
on the cold and careless sea

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fall cleaning

the old cogs she brought back
even recent pieces dated decades
ago, and i shook the boxes
to find an empty
so she could fill them
with these things.

they sit in the attics
awaiting judgment
that will never come
no place in our soul young enough
to dare this again – this
propelling motion
these antics called hope

i marked them with a sharpie
and told her i’d mark the world
for her.
i yearned for this –
still, the fruit drops from the tree
and the city grows daily colder

i can tell my age by the wear
on my skin, the flesh turning sour
and dry, and this i tell myself
is proper
where did the tale go, though?

the good tale i told my child’s ear
when we lay in triumphant death
the field gory with effort
has trickled to a fantastic end:
bedtimes, taxis, new socks, disease,
still courage is tomorrow
i suppose,
when i will hurt myself remembering her hurt
and toss the old boxes
on the curb.

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pourquoi tu me manques?

pale Illinois, gracey fields, shorebird
no Andromeda me
the revetments
giant teeth
too tired to snap at my feet
and still i drop
a collapse of limbs
people see
the stone i carry
under my burial shroud
face, skein of flesh,
drawn to earth,
drawing the monsters
from the lake,
i want to clasp
you so hard
there is no me.

i am defiled, crumbled,
hard by the road
no movement but the thin tremble
of the branches overhead
like puppet joints holding theater
in the upper air

i am this slight pain
this pain that wants
the black knife in your hand,
can i give you a black knife
to hold in your hand?

i am disrupted, the course
was crooked, unpure, i was
unpure. another soul would have
grown straighter, or clearer
or had her purpose taught with

i want to hold you so hard
there is no me.
i want your monsters
in the space between my flesh
better tales than what i say.

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you don’t live here anymore

i cannot tell, i cannot tell
the monsters ring the vesper bell
the spiders in their nests confer
the child’s doom by sunken well

i cannot say, i cannot say
the asp, he took my tongue away
to mute the night in shadow
for shadow doesn’t want to stay

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the gyres in the morning

Describe the sand –

In the cold – the pale the moon
Describe –
Beryllium she, beryllium she, beryllium she in the corps turning
Take my hand, god
The last roses are blooming in the back garden
There your soldiers are sinking
In soil, like those temperate flowers,
Rusted in the demise of frost

Take my hand, god
The wooden boats –
We broken – beat the soft sallow trunk of the slowing willow
And know, god,
The fright of our meekness
The stars, the low, the prize
My prize
I slew the meek men in the jungle
With my beryllium eyes
My beryllium eyes
God knew, knew and offered
The soft wood’s private luxury,
Condemns the limb – the beaten
Red as a cardinal’s breast
That you at 17 (were 17
Every morning of that year
You were 17)
One single morning was the morning of the cardinal and the trumpet
And the year you were 17
The morning of the red bind and god
And your faces were as wondrous as the ways of the sea
I the ocean
I the wake
I the god of me

Then the bloody wake pours over
Pores over, pours over me
Herodotus the ancients knew
Loved a thistle
Loved the thistle bloom

Take my hand, god
The robins in the wode
The forest thick with the ashes of our coming
And our cremation.

All these things inhabit my pocket linings
Grave anchors, the peeling form of the moon
My distension reforms – a signal

And the faces of your rotating inclination
The down gyres – a pocket fleeced
Distention is absolution
Distention is charm
I the maker and deceiver
Pocket the hull of god’s armament
Down, dear – fly the part away
Tear time apart
Sweep the rusty increments of the anchored street
The poled lamplights
Light the ruddy lamp – steal the farthest
Shore from the jeer-faced mermaids

Shoal the sand – sand sweep down
Seat and strong the palm of my other eye
Sting the poison and the carnal snake
The ashen roll in the pointed wake

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listen in – listen

closer, the wide
door to the world beckoning
tree tops dark insisting

this is the earliest morning
tufted and rooting under the soil,
native imported
gaze from wide round
breaking, breaking is
the way in
strangling is to breathe
breathe deep, suffused in a net
of being

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I. The Girl

Midnight swelled at the crest, as a wave,
Billowed and beckoned the girl transforming
From the part of her brow to the hollow of her nave,

Sang in tremolo when up came the morning,
To peer through the window at the bruise on her cheek
Like some wounded ghost made good his yearning

And touched her finally but could not her keep,
Except that there stays the spot on her face
Otherwise so quiet you might mistake her asleep –

But she is awake, caught breathing, as if chased,
The dew drenched ground dispels its warm breath
And when the liquid gathers, her mouth tastes

Tastes the caudal dream’s briny crest –
Go to your girl-soft thighs and graze
The beckoning fruit and the slant of your chest,

Then call out the window before the rising haze
To the unknown world and its thunderous beat,
Though you in the tower must sit and stay –

She conjures up houses and asphalt and trees,
Or storefronts and chattel, or cars and trains,
Or men and women, or crowds and concrete,

While she combs her hair by her windowpane,
Tipples the broad hours brush by brush,
She conjures only air and goes softly insane,

Then down dropped her hair in a hush
Down from her shoulders, brave with desire,
Like a fall of thick curtains, velvet and flushed,

Burned down the sill in a ripple of fire,
Down from tower and towards the gaped earth
Till the savage plaits tangled with the wicked brier.

Sudden startled girl by the stranger’s birth
Who climbed up the rich mantle rope as possessed
In eldrich incantation by a homegrown serf –

Maybe you too, in closed palms at rest,
Heard the heartbeat grown loud, too loud to hold,
No part neglected, your hand still pressed

Deep and tight – the stars start and unfold
Each pale and blinkshot until the sun finally goes
Goes in a long sigh of light and gold.

She stayed in her sleep until she woke
Hearth hot and clambering up, hot hands
Parched her naked neck, as she spoke

Have the girl as she starts and stands
Rough as broken mare or hunted beast,
Run aground on the soft and sinking sand.

(The schoolgirls beset the mincing priest
Display their frail necks and claim they are chaste
Pig-tied and gagging in the bundling heat.

Then she at least will escape the tight taste
Taxidermical and bitter of what canons imposed
Out wicked world to wear a gilded face,

Or a mincing voice, or a stupid pink pose,
To make men content of palace and power)
She let fall as her hair the hug of her clothes,

Naked she walked as young deer do, not a cower
But breathlessly odd and new, a hobbling grace
In her thighs as she stepped through the tower

And drew her form to his arms amazed,
The wordless tomes she had conjured alone
Written in the ink of the blood on her face,

Carve it deep in the long stretch of bone
Still her breath ecliptic rose and rose,
The new lips hungry, parted and shone,

Cleft, clasp, break, inhale, inhale, enclose.
The darkling sang to the muddy river berm,
Sank and smelled the fen mix with the rose,

The boy and the girl entangled wear
As Arcadic cloth or thick sea tangle
The tousled length of her sable hair.

II. The Witch

Drop wing crow’s warning, a cawed cackle,
Wild alarm eaten by the bowl of night
Or lost in the bedside brookish babble

By herald or age or stifling sight
Soddered a fine swift killing shear
Your hands, madam witch, can still blight

Then upturn the bowl and slingshot fear
Dense fear to tear down their sweet clutching,
Too new to cut open, and true, too rare –

Or not rare enough, as memory starts hushing,
But lie still your feeble old walnut heart,
Cracked hands and cane and eye wresting,

To magic on your girl, or bilious age impart,
Don’t you know, my child, by now, by now?
The pang hangs on my hunched back, like dark art,

Though only time and accident deal the blow,
Though no one can tell this pain from the next,
But I’ll scissor you yet, I’ll shear you low –

Dense tumbles down like a violet jest
Jetty the night with a plush plait fall,
Coarsen her face and make her confess

Confess as a saint on some forsaken atoll
But she knows, she knows, your age betrays,
Go to death at peace, apace and full,

Dream of the madder thrush in the stave,
You’ve cut her from her locks at last,
Clouding girl, before you go, I’ll say you brave

Chant, or enduring echo, but the rasp
Of your voice is turned stony and still,
The billowing night scythes you fast.

Take from the tower, children, before somber dawn,
By the tripwire throat of the gaviiform’s song,
Then endure the road and the callow forms
We sometime take in the world below.

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she in the greed green

She in the greed green
Kicked and scythed
The fall of her hair like
The death of a child
Gone in a second, the fall of a
Bloom, torn by a lover
Betrayed too soon.

She in the greed green
Distended, light-haired,
Haunts the house
Singing and laughing
Says the places I’ll go
When the sun sets meekly
When I eat the cold snow
Oh the low places I’ll go.

She in the greed green
Sits in my chair,
Paints thick my heart and daubs
My cheek, in the remnant
Odor of her disease, then
Dines fine on my sapping eye,
She’s a connoisseur of jealousy.

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if it’s the beeches

there down the rum muddy mill road
the massy wood sifting cotton flowers
in the fallows, the fallows,
so thick they lie like northern snow on the
green and the loam, stippled with
star moss still speckled with needy dew
there down the mill road rumbling,
up and over, wind and winding air,
bringing the fern and the pine sap smell deep
from the dense steep hill baked in old sun,
there your hands took the path along me
took to a restless churning as a leaf
spins, almost a wing, tined by a single fish line
to these beech trees, tined by a single
hair from my head, i was the last one to catch you
by the odd granite shelves jutting off
of the dun brown hill, the last one to touch
your beech brown hair, to steal the cold in the night,
and when i wept, the river swept you in,
skittering like a whipple branch, but if you
need the wine, the wind, the moving world
still haunting these up and down paths,
if these still trees pierce you,
i am restless enough to go, to leave the beech tree home,
the sky blue downs and the embered domes
they turn in October. Until you tire
i will pick the tins and the strings and walk
my mucky heels to you, to dance until no more
can be danced, to move through the spite
and speared promise, gunnysack tilting aside
the spreading bruise like a new eye filled
murkily with powdery breath and rough hides.

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Defense calls Demon
high, cheerful,
hungry as the riptide)
Dismissed, your Honor,
Dismissed for lack of cause.
Call the witness
You have seen
How I strangled the baby,
The high beam, and even
my dreams are tortious.
Nolo contendere.
Sodom is dead,
Who gives a shit –
Order. Order. Order.

Then Demon’s neck twisted
We saw the tattooed
Plaint of his neck.

I vanished without paying bond,
Last Tuesday.
They carried my body
To the County grave.

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the honest salt

aglow i wandered in the noonlight
like a soul tethered to the post
only going to stray to the end, the bend
the light’s bend from the angled
wall, the slope roof, tangled masonry
and the proof that the sun had risen,
bruised in mind the mind rekindles
half-consumed as ash and as ashen
not known what halves would have it
rekindle, not knowing what touch
would have it flame up, if the flame
were aglow but prescient, meant for
another world and not this world
this world where the water is split
where the milk sours too quick
where i can’t drink the milk for it
sours in my gut like the children i
will not bear, not knowing how to
consume the time as the sea consumes
space, generously, widely, mazed depth
aleph, beth, offering, wave by wave
the honest salt, and its melancholy dead.

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memento mori

I dreamed I died
surrounded by clowns
their clown faces
downturned by grinning
absolving me of
long hours wasted

they pressed mutely
in my palms dried petals,
coddled sanction,
they pressed mutely
into my eyes soft bulbs,
quiet lights from bright
prison windows

they pat my hair –
absolving me of
sinning too long,
and too little,
there, there, they murmured
and there.

then i in fetters clothed
chanted the cities
down into fire,
and myself burned
in eager tender flames
abruptly found death,
the young boy waiting
arm extended,
a little anxious of
our dance.

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move to the moon with me

between assignments, buried in paper,
found an article saying they wanted
to put us back on the moon.

(us and US.)

nothing big, of course, no greenhouse,
no glass globe lunar party dome,
perhaps a cinderblock, cubed,
a modest place, with just enough
window to see the earth up
at night, or morning,
or whatever they call time on the moon.

i would move to the moon,
if it meant no more rain, or roses,
it means also no more lines, waiting,
no more broken expectations, no more
waiting for the sun in late spring.

i would move to the moon,
if it meant cold food, dried fruit,
if it meant losing the snow,
and deeper, if it meant
losing the sea.

i would live myself, and listen
to nothing, to the absence of air,
the absence of wind, and wings,
and i would stare for hours
into the everywhere.

long enough there, i might heal,
these crabbed wounds close over
and peel into skin, smooth as
river stones (i would keep a river stone
on the moon to remember
what water does, alive)

long enough there, i could breathe
again, without this pain near constant,
and i could stretch without spasm
at the long past against me,
in the rarefied air, without want,
without need; and though you
are the particles that set my pain
stenching, would i mind, mind at all,
if you moved to the moon with me?

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