Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not looking to the wind for answers

The wind didn’t blow it to me,
Bob’s answer. It didn’t blow any
answers. It riddled instead,
both soil and sea, then it fled
without its debris. What it takes,
it puts elsewhere, then it makes
amends, by giving this place something
back, whatever’s at hand, anything,
when it returns. Returning
begins to feel a lot like learning,
if you do it enough. The sun didn’t die
when it went away. It doesn’t lie
in wait behind the clouds. It keeps
to its schedule. Repeating its sweeps
around us, like the wind. Unlike it,
it only gives. Heat. Light. And what’s lit
doesn’t come with any more answers
for me, or the wind that comes after

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For what was taken

They’re not the some left,
those some, just some, yes
them, here. The golden
browns, they tuck thickly
around their honey
locust’s hem. They hear
her soughs, so unlike
the hot-throated wind.
And they hear her soft
sadness, not at all
like the wild-eyed wet.
Her soughs, her sadness
she gives, not for them.
No, not them. They, she’d
given. Not for them,
for what was taken.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I’ve stood up
tall into its porcelain
mists, stood up
into this vitrified blue,
and I’ve watched them.
I’ve watched the people move
across hard sidewalk, across
leaf-litter seconds. They move
not unlike my idle hours,
some faster, some slower.
And as I watch them,
I try to catch them
up, in my mind, these people
moving. I sweep my arm
through the blue and try
to take them up as they happen
by, before they happen
away and into the hungry
mouths of market doors
and subway stairs. I take them
up one-by-one, in my mind,
to place them, taller,
higher up in the 3-D puzzle
pieces, atop the extruded jigsaw
pieces that muscle up
to a ribboned brown.
Shoulder to shoulder,
and foot to shoulder, and
shoulder to foot, they’ll stand
and their small faces, so much
alike at a distance, will be
windows. They will be
mirrors, and they will
pattern over the porcelain.
They’ll honeycomb into the blue.
I won’t move, like my idle hours,
and they’ll watch me back,
and they’ll catch me up,
and they’ll take me with them,
even higher.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It won't be long

It won’t be long, now. It won’t
be, yellow-orange tells me. It lies
across the damp, and it tells me
It won’t be long. I’ll belong to it,
but not now. Not yet. First I’ll get
to the oak and see five hundred
years. I’ll be the oak and its tossed
limbs, our mossy elbows down
on soft yellow-orange, and the damp
we'll tamp down, till I belong to it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A leaf, it doesn't know

I could be this pavement,
here. It’s here,
where water’d recently run.
And when it ran, that water,
perhaps this morning,
in that morning
it was done,
done running, done
but for what remains
of it. And what remains

for this day,
not not young,
but getting gray
are the grayer marks,
the reminders of where
the water spilled out,
from cracks. There
its wet followed, following
the cracks for one wink
before breaking free

to mark more pavement
with its passing.
I could be that pavement,
but I’d rather be the one
dried leaf on the road.
It skitters by. A leaf,
it doesn’t know
the water was here,
and it’s blind
to all signs of it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

They say. They said.

They say.
They said. They
said, “It gets
easier.” It does get.
It got?
It got
to the point it gets,
and then it gets
what it’s not.
What it got
is, and it isn’t that
it’s easier. It’s that
it isn’t that. It’s this
now. It got, and it’s
but what it’s getting
to be is an else.
Some thing, not itself,
and not what they
said, or say.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Their glass

Their glass was disposed
to the repose of steel blue,
but yellow-orange fell. Oh how
it lit them, reminding me of you.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

While the cold's still young

The radiator rattles. It rides,
riding the cold out, out
in its rusty cart with one loose wheel,
one of those wheels that jiggles

and sticks, as it rolls
across a pebbled lot. The cold’s
not bitter. It still fits, but it will
grow. Give it time. Give it

a little time to live
a little. Give it a little more
time to build up, and build
the aches in its bones,

its joints, its sagging
muscles. The aches that push
this dying fly to fling itself
against walls and ceilings, to try

to break itself. To remake itself.
Then watch it, watch
the cold grumble. The radiator
knocks, a wooden block, to chop

the cold, while the cold’s still
young, and thin-necked,
and vulnerable to its taunts
and hisses. It’ll thicken. The cold.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Belly, the conclusion

[Well, this is it. The final piece of my puzzling Belly. I'll do some clean up and perhaps some re-ordering and then post the final version on my website. Thanks to all of you who stuck it out with me until the end. Once again, if you'd like to start at the beginning, please click here.]

“Have you taken the medication I prescribed for you?”

“No, but I don’t think I’ll need it.”


And some amount of time will pass, but he won't know exactly how much. But he will know. He'll know. He'll know it's the morning. It's the morning everything changes.


Jonas, are you alright?


And he’ll be on the train again. And it will move through the black as it always has, morning after morning, but this morning won't be the same. This morning, it won't be the same, the same routine. This morning won't track smoothly along his timeline. This morning will jump the tracks. On this morning, he’ll find a different kind of black within him. And the voices won’t come there, only colors will. And he knows his color now. He can’t name it, but he can describe it to himself. A sunburst orange. The orange of a sun bursting free from the horizon. And he’ll become that color when he closes his eyes and enters that black, the black so different from what he sees outside. And when he opens his eyes again, he won’t see black, or the others, or even a train. He won't be on a train, and it will be a different morning.


Jonas? You missed our appointment today. Call me back when you can, to reschedule. And please take those meds.


And when he does, open his eyes, the special black is replaced with a startling, but equally special white. The white of an empty room, a freshly painted room. The white of a new start. The white not of refusal, but of belonging. And he will occupy this room with the other colors. They're not here in the room, but they're here with him, or in him. And he won’t put anything in it, this empty room, but a single spider plant hung from the ceiling, to keep him company with its parachuting, miniature green offspring. And he'll also put there a single book, leather-bound, with blank, vellum pages. He'll lay it at his feet with a fountain pen, to write in and with, when the words come, if they ever come. They’ll have to come, but he won’t know when exactly they come, because he won’t keep any clocks. He'll keep time by counting the times his spider plant flowers. And then he’ll write. And then he’ll write. And then he'll write some more, his pen moving like the cycling of those flowerings. And when he’s done writing, whenever that will be, he’ll let the book go, wherever it is books go, and he’ll go with it. And they'll go together to speak to others. And they'll leave only the spider plant behind, because there will be nothing else to leave. And then a new story will begin.


Is it time for another first question?

Yes, and I’ve got a good feeling this time. She won’t disappoint us.

Not like the last time? Not like Jonas?

No, not like Jonas.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The fiction of inside

My window mongers
rumors, not lies
of lighter traffic than yesterday
of a starling startled to cry out, then fly
of the cloying sheets neighbors use
to fragrance and dry
their clothes. The house
flies buzz by
assuring me, it’s all true.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Belly, part fifteen

[This is another passage from my short story Belly. To start from the beginning, click here.]

“When I close my eyes, I don’t see black, or I don’t see only black. And the black I do see, isn’t a dead blackness. It’s not a black of nothingness. It’s alive with shapes. Not geometric shapes, but irregular shapes. They’re splotches, or swatches of colors. Bright colors. Forest green, and magenta, crimson and cobalt blue.

“They move through the black as if it was water. Not swimming as much as floating, or gliding, as if their sides were covered with tiny bumps, or little hairs, or something small to channel the liquid past them.

“And the strangest thing is, I know these shapes are a part of me. Or, not a part of me as much as they’re others like me. Not physically, obviously, but somehow, we’re the same. I may not be seeing their actual, physical selves. Or what I see as me, or you see as me, may not be real. I don’t know. I may be seeing their essences. And these essences are my essence too.

“And when I go into that black, when I can close my eyes and escape into it, I can escape from the voices too. It’s not that the voices don’t still frighten me, it’s that the voices can’t frighten them, these shapes.

“Whoever the voices are, whatever they ask, it doesn’t mean anything to these shapes. And they tell me, not with words, but with a pulsing of their color, that the voices shouldn’t mean anything to me either.

“That’s when I start to let them, the voices, go. I feel myself, for a moment, dissolving into a colored shape, like the others. I feel myself becoming one of those shapes of color, someone, or something beyond the voices’ reach. Someone the voices don’t matter to. Someone, or something that knows they’re not real.

“But that feeling only lasts for a moment, at least so far, and then I slip back to reality. Or this reality. I’m not ready to completely let go yet, I guess, but I know I need to.”

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Belly, part fourteen

[This is another passage from my short story Belly. To start from the beginning, click here.]

It feels different.

Yes, as if he’s about to slip away from us. We won’t have much more time with him.

We haven’t had much, and we haven’t learned very much either. Less than the others.

Each one’s different. We can’t know how they’ll respond, and every one’s important.

We do have a little more time. We should make the most of it.

We can. We will. Let’s show him.


Why not?

Jonas? We’ve almost reached the end. You’ve almost reached your end too. Can you see it? Can you see where you are? Can you see you aren’t where we led you? No, can’t you see? You’re where you’ve always been.


One spark doesn’t cast much light, but the stream of sparks the metal wheels spray as they spin against the curved track make the landscape come alive, a liveliness that lasts for the few seconds the sparks still have life.

They light up a tree, these sparks, for Jonas to see, and it is a tree, but it’s more than a tree. In the flash of light, Jonas can see, not just the gray, craggy bark, he’d expect. He sees not just its branches swaying as unsteadily as aged arms, and the small, thin twigs that poke from their ends, the tree’s arthritic fingers.

He can see inside of it too. There’s a warmth there, a color, or a glow at its center. It’s a glow fed by the moments the tree witnesses standing rooted to its spot. It feeds on whatever passes it by, all the daily events, human, animal, mineral. It feeds on them as it feels them. Yes, feels, and knows, and recognizes, and cherishes, both the good and the bad.

There are the small harms, the sharp pains, as little boys stab it with pen knives to carve initials, or mower blades gash its roots. There are small joys too. Yes, it feels like joy. Yes, the joy it feels as a May sun warms its newly budding leaves. Or the joy it feels as it recalls its past attachments, to the squirrels and jays, and crows and sparrows who’ve made it a home, by sitting in it for no matter how short a visit. Jonas sees all of this, as those first sparks still burn, and then the tree falls back into the early morning’s darkness.

The train takes the second curve in an ess, and more specks of light sparkle to show Jonas less of what he thought he knew, and more of what he didn’t, like this plain, dead wall of dull red bricks. But the bricks aren’t dead or dull. They too glow, and they move, or what’s inside them moves. They hold the hum of movements. It’s not their movement alone. It’s the movement of all they’ve absorbed in the tens of years they’ve stood here.

They hold within them all that’s been said or seen, touched or felt around them, and they sing about them, all of these stories, to Jonas’ eyes. Every meal cooked, every dog walked, every child tucked tightly in their warm winter bed. And they sing them, all these stories, in a language he can’t speak. Every lover’s hand taken, every little and big betrayal, every boss cursed. And though he can’t speak their language, he can understand them, all these songs they’ve sung in this the briefest of flashes. He can understand them, all their stories sung together so nothing can be lost when the second set of sparks lose their lives.

And wanting to hold onto them, Jonas closes his eyes and tries to imagine them again. But when he closes his eyes, he doesn’t recall them, he remembers something quite different. He remembers the voices. Not the voices who brought him here, but those other voices, and what they told him. And he keeps his eyes shut, longer than he otherwise might. And he looks. He looks more deeply into the deepest black, deeper than any black he’s ever looked through, and beyond that, this black, he thinks he sees it. He thinks he sees just a glimpse of it.


Jonas, are you there?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Belly, part thirteen

[This is another passage from my short story Belly. To start at the beginning, click here]

The patient claims to hear strange disembodied voices. He is under the impression these voices could be in some way prophetic. He describes various hallucinations, all of which seem to be induced at the suggestion of the voices. These episodes occur primarily, if not exclusively, on the patient’s commute to work. There are no signs of unusual stress at his job. He is not currently in a relationship, and hasn’t been in one of any significance for quite some time. He does not appear to be a threat to others or himself, but he does display some anti-social tendencies. He doesn’t make eye contact when spoken to. He doesn’t like to be touched. He says he doesn’t interact with others, if he can help it. He appears to be healthy physically, other than signs of fatigue and anxiety resulting from his recent experiences. He’s assured me the hallucinations are not the affects of current or past substance abuse. I can’t rule out some form of psychosis, possibly schizophrenia, although there is no family history of this, and it should have manifested itself at a younger age. He may have suffered an emotional trauma as a young adult, but he refuses to talk about it directly. It’s impossible to know yet if any of his recollections of past events are reliable. Understanding this better may be the key to managing his condition, but it will take more sessions to arrive there. I have prescribed a benzodiazepine in the interim.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The interconnections of water and time

Their white within the Inner Harbor’s
tea-colored water
first tricks me into seeing
them as trash. They’re floating
too-elegantly for me to mistake it twice.
The biped in me can’t help but admire the grace
of their jellied swimming.

To swim, I’ll swim across days,
up coastlines, to new cities, and memories.

There are fetal skeletons
at the Mütter, and they’re arranged in the display
case according to height. The boy
at the right end’s skull, slightly flattened
makes him look awkward and alien.

I’d feel like a monster to look at him,
and her, and her, and him, each of them,
these children who never took a step, too clinically,
and as my eyes move between their tiny
toes, they move closer to me than any jelly,
no matter how pretty,