My love could have been a Thomas
From Trinity or from St. John’s
We could have had our choicest fights
By the fire at the Anglesea Arms
My love could have been a cliff at Exmouth
Or grimalkin’s stone third eye
My love could have lain like fog
On the sea at Lady Chapel Isle
My love could have fed me poppies
Drunk my milk and fallen fast
Slept for centuries and awoken
Hugged tight by electric glass
My love could have been upright
Tipper of hats and payer of taxes
Veins as wide as Roman roads
And a fool’s blameless conscience
Boil the blood and pull the rhubarb
Bring the flags down in the suburbs
My love could have loved the land
But my love loves me instead.
I didn’t notice tears making their escape down my cheeks
Until you caught them with your tongue
Raised yourself up and said, “What?”
Your eyes were sea glass in the gathering dark.
I didn’t love, but the evenings went down too fast and made me drunk
And you were the right height, your face was proportional,
A chestnut-brown smell I could almost taste, and the things you said so blunt
That my face got warm and my mouth formed a “What the hell.”
Back then I believed anything anyone said about me
Whether they said I was a poet or a whore
I was better off listening to the voice inside my head
Even if all it said was “More, more.”
Where are you now, with the stripes across your chest like days
Darkness after light after darkness after light
Are your bones weeping collagen in an unmarked grave
Did you meet a woman who treats you right.
Men like you do the dirty work of forcing themselves on history
The muscle of your hearts knotted and hard, but still you do as you are told
If your voice could be here now, what would it say through me
I mean besides that dark sound from within your throat
Deep where no light can go, quickening breath, a smile creeping into your voice
Like sunrise creeps across floorboards now in other bedrooms
What would you say if you were here?
What would you do if you could choose?
I hope you are happy as I am happy and I hope
That you can forgive me for the way I strung up these words
Like lights that will not shine bright enough or true, poetry must be another lie
Though as far as lies go, it’s still prettier than most.
P.S. This post originally featured a cropped version of Magritte’s An Act of Violence in the header. Due to STUPID CENSORSHIP ISSUES I updated the header to Magritte’s The Lovers. Here’s An Act of Violence below:
Continue reading “Stripes”
When I am old and grey and full of sleep
Invite the light in from the ledge and drop a beat
Make the floors shake, enrage the neighbors
Wake the street
When I am old and grey and full of sleep. Continue reading “When I am old”
In Paris they ask the right questions:
“Cognac, armagnac, or calvados?”
And, “Why are your eyes so blue?”
“Do you know how to get back home?”
“Is it finally time to kiss you?”
If the black hole in the center of the galaxy
Is stoppering up a drainage pipe
That leads into another universe –
In other words, if Stephen Hawking is right –
In that place I’ve become your wife.
In that place where I’m your wife
I stand on Ponte Alexandre III, the river runs from me,
And I don’t try to hold it back.
I didn’t turn into a poet
I’m too happy for that.
In that place where I am me
But both the wise and stupid men who called me here
Have been dead a long time since –
And marble angels press their fingers
Against their marble lips.
Some of us will hide our frowns
Behind the sturdy fences of gray beards.
Some of us will turn from fallen women
Into women with fallen breasts.
We will maybe sell some books,
And hug each other by each other’s graves.
Around the corner
Something says, “The horror”
And we wish to turn back
As we fall forward.
But still the dead queens on the walls
Insist the only time is now
And still the stars cluster like clots
Inside the arteries that pump
And twist through darkness’s hard heart
And still you never finish the sentence
That begins with “dans tes yeux…”
And I can’t tell pain from the pleasure
Which is why I would have loved to –
Paris, you know that I’d still love to –
Burn my tongue on you.
I wrote this a long time ago and then thought, “Well, everyone writes at least one stupid poem about Paris. This is embarrassing and it’s not going up.” Because of recent events, I dusted off the poem and realized that it’s actually strangely appropriate. Paris, ILY. Vive la France.
Now that she is old, Helen walks on the beach
Remembering her old lovers
The temperamental merging of sea and sand
Makes her ponder men and women
Currents are wanderers
But it’s tectonic plates that are hard –
The stupid analogy falls apart
And Helen laughs and orders
Half a liter of wine on the corner.
Every woman in a silk dress
Lets her look back in time at herself –
Clavicles now are more fashionable than breasts
But Helen doesn’t mind
The past is the past.
When Helen walks home, the stars
Look down upon her between power lines
The nights are getting longer
The Earth is already calling from beneath
Helen’s light but callused feet.
And peeking out from behind Earth’s shoulder is the Sun
Waiting for its chance to swallow everyone
Though the Sun will deny this and say,
“I’ll only call you home some day.”
At home Paris lies facedown on the couch
Waiting for the camphor and peppermint oil
That Helen will rub into his wide back –
Into constellations of freckles and muscle gone slack.
Love is more than cells that arrange themselves into flesh, Helen believes
But still she likes to think she has a little time left
To keep touching him.