Our bodies are urns full of rain,
spilling during the harvest. The elders
speak of clemency. The army marches on.
We watch them across the ocean,
speak their undead name in our sleep.
Some of the sisters still make mosques
in abandoned lots. They auction their gold
for Allah’s ninety-nine names, while
the neighborhood boys hawk the spires
for cocaine. In the hour of the blizzard,
the devout speak of owls rising from
fossil. When they bathe, they hear
children’s voices in the pipes, open their
mouths wide to catch that scalding
song. Their wombs are empty now.
They name the trees in the projects for
Hagar. Snow fills the minaret and they wait
to arrive, finally, shaking, to god.
Even in the most inhospitable circumstances there is always time for a cup of tea.
Say you live in a cup with a hole blasted in its side in a blasted landscape, by a blasted tree
and an empty barrel. You can still park your worn down shoes side by side
at the door and steep your questions in hot water. Since you are a man of letters
I imagine you have many. As steam brushes your cheeks you may read the leaves.
Take your time. The wind is aroused and the clouds are either massing or clearing.
You have lost everything but not what makes you human. I don’t mean your coat and tie.
The forebears have gathered. The clocks have split open. Clock hands lie on the ground
like bent utensils. The forebears emerged through the rock. They are ruins. Dissevered.
Parallel faces frozen in profile. The forebears are listening. And there you stand
(I almost missed you), memory’s king, an ant among giants, hands tucked in your
pockets, downcast, with a stone for a shadow, waiting for whispers, husbanding
wisdom, at home at last in an old stone Eden. Whose face does the rock face bear
and repeat, each and every — your face, God face, Jew face, membranous blessing.
What do you know
of the former
He lives in another
city or speaks
in the guise
of an owl, he appears
in the guise of a scrawl.
In a series of paintings—
your two selves
and played by
a bunch of characters.
You are close and you
are friends and you recede
endlessly from one
It means you,
singular, string beads.
You make a lot
of bracelets. They grow
up your arm,
static of the
(plural) used to make
creeps across the lines in my palm. He erects a house
with a tree in the front yard and a dog running the length
of the lawn. Yesterday he fashioned a weapon
from sharpened sticks and twine to protect what he owns,
though I hold no one else and there’s no room for expansion.
Once I thought an itchy palm foretold a windfall
but now it’s him mowing the lawn or taking the dog for a walk.
Sometimes I whisper secrets and he thinks it’s the wind
and zips his jacket, tucks his head down. Friends ask to see
my hand and wonder at the world I’ve created, but it’s really
what someone else created when I relinquished control.