2,254 Readings


There are cases where a fact cannot come at all
and a leaf falls
down in front of me
and I steal this leaf
because I need it
and don’t want to think
about the future.
Just this leaf. 
By looking at it.
Looking at it
regularly, then maybe
under a microscope.
Hours pass in this fashion.
When you got your first microscope
do you remember
how it came with four or five blank slides
packed in Styrofoam
and because you couldn’t resist
you picked your freshest scab
or ran the slide across your finger
so you could see
inside your own blood?  Love
is an emergency.
And every decimal of dew is.
And every time that we are careless.


Love is an emergency 
that slips like a deer          
from the wound of Christ
to land on the water 
without bitterness
in a glister of accident 
and won’t think twice
about climbing that tiny staircase again
in ice
to board a plane
again to fly
back into the kiss 
of the same disaster

no recompense
no flotation device

the kind of suicide mission
where you’re not even free  
after you’ve died

like how

when you hang yourself 
in prison
they cuff you  
before they cut you


Attaching a bird wing
to a fishing line and pole
and dragging it along the ground
trains hounds to trace game.
The name of the game
is kill what you love.
The name of the game
is kill what you hate.
The wings are bait
to teach the dogs to love their fate
which is to find what someone great
shot out
of the sky forever
and point: and it’s my heart
that is the convict.
I have to get the convict
what he wants.


Someone dressed as Santa
shoots everyone
at the Christmas party,
beginning with the child
who answers the door. 
Santa shoots everyone
then self.
In Spain, swordfish in the sea
do the seguidilla
and some make youthful mistakes
and some guffaw
and some are forced into slavery
and some are bedsore.

Some have beauty that is obscene.

We work in shifts
to be equivalent.

He was happy one minute.

12 a.m. to 12:01:
everyone turns to everyone
in their sequined dress
in a snow of silver dots
and kisses everyone’s champagne

Someone’s false eyelash
floating in everyone’s glass
can only be distinguished
as unwishable and untrue
by the tiny bead of glue
that had been holding it in place.

You reach for my face.

A leaf falls down.

It is a featherless bone;
it is the sound of steel on stone;
it is the siren in the dial tone
rinsing out your brain before bed.
The leaf is green but it is red
in the microscope.
When all words contained all others, I said, I hope.
Posted 04/25/12
first appeared in American Poetry Review, Nov./Dec. 2011