Saturday, December 24, 2011

For a Wild Girl

(on her birthday)

It is not because I killed you.
It is not merely because I killed you.

There are numbers of reasons which justify my intent.
But none closer to the heart of it
(I admit)

To wit:
I have done it again.
Dug you up
and rolled with your bones.

But there is no atonement
or respite
for him who killed
the light.

I feel you, sometimes
behind me in crowds
and you’re on the periphery

of everything I see.
Your vanished voice still echoes
and rings:

Do you still love me?
Then kiss me, ducky.
Finger my wounds
and chase the blues away,
constant one, o constant one.

I had a memory of you,
earlier today. A glimmer of you
from someone else’s face.
That cloudy day on the deserted beach:
You, me. The wind, the sand, the sea
and the smell of rain.

You were reading something.
Baudelaire, I think. Maybe Rimbaud.
You bit your lip, squared your jaw—
that thing you did, when you were deep in thought.
Blowing your hair away from your face
you remembered I was beside you,
gave a start, tilted your head
just a trace, and angled it toward me,
then gave it a teasing, haughty toss.

Leaning over then to me, we kissed—
playfully, at first, then
lingeringly. And I felt the shiver—
the familiar ache—resonate through me.

I wanted to wrap myself in it
to cleave to your shattering
and exist out of time

to fill myself
with the jaggedness
Of your going.

How sharp it was!

But there is no release.
No bodkin, no disease.

No atonement
no respite
for him who slew
the light.

Never forgiven this earth
that gave, then took you away.
Cold, careening rock
that hid you under dirt.

Never forgiven the stupid boy
more in love with love than love could take.
Who for the sake of love and pure
spent your love away.

All was finished, that time ago.
Unforgiven, all we turn and spin
breathe and be
as if you hadn’t been.

What more to say that isn’t said?
Nothing left, but for that I’ve bled
And leave undone—

So sleep, and well, my dreaming one—

And the face of night which is become
the ghost of all your days but touched
will merge to one—one light, and such
as star or sun that heaven’s never seen—
and you will be free.
Of all. Of me.

Dreaming better dreams.

Contemplating one or other
lying noble Roman
searching the bottom of the row
of the history shelf
absently even less aware
than usually I am
turned abruptly
to my right—not thinking
not glancing not giving a damn
for on-coming traffic
you know—
nearly plowed her to the ground
poor thing
almost murdered randomly
on Saturday afternoon
at Waldenbooks
by a book-drunk stranger who
should have had his browsing licence
qualified long ago—
a pretty one she was
kind eyes
brown and wide
with an amused ironic mouth—
and a smile which graced
even reckless men
who menace chain-store aisles.

Mumbled apologies
so little aware was i—
no problem, said she
looking up at me
still smiling
as she squeezed on by—

and i—
and i—
i looked at her
then began my descent
into my favored hell
nothing beneath me
to break my fall
just fell
and fell
and fell
into the place
where’s kept your face
and i reduced
and you were not
and nothing—

nothing was all.
Contemplating Romans at Waldenbooks
nothing was all.

You didn’t see me seeing you
one gray November day
under the old tree
behind your father’s house
as you waited there, for me.

You couldn’t hear
when I spoke your name
under my breath,
not in the way you needed—

no, too reverent and too soft—
like you were Maia,
outstretched in clover and lost
in some reverie of heaven.

When rain began to fall
I wavered before calling out,
trying first to learn the order of it;
leaned back on your elbows,

your left leg pointed at the clouds,
like you were guiding them, I thought;
citizens of that glowering sky
enthralled, by you, as I was.

But you were just a wild girl,
with loops in her hair,
softness in her skin,
and light in her eyes;

no wildness, no softness,
no quality of light
could subdue those bawdy strings,
that pasty elder—

(How thinly,
they throb.
How utterly,
they sting.)

When you sensed me there
Behind you, you cocked
your head around,
And grinned.

I was apple cactus.
You were the moon.
Closed fast in dreaming,
I could only bloom

in your eyes.

I noticed you right away
leaning against a wall across the room,
your long dark hair bound back
but spriggy rings of it dangling free
around your ears, like stray flowers
refusing to adhere to some prosaic gardener’s
sterile decree. Your eyes grew wide
and you caught your breath
just when i did—i swear, i saw you do it—
and you nodded my way, and smiled.

I saw the gap in your teeth.

Nothing could be done, then. I was gone.

You were standing with your back against
a crooked tallow tree.
And your head was raised, just slightly,
anticipating me.

But Zeus was hiding,
behind the hedges;
lethal, profane
and soft, around the edges.

I know a sad case.

A backwards guy.

A sanctimonious God-talker, who grew into confusion.

Long ago there was a girl, with a gap between her teeth, and long dark hair that flowed like tiny wreaths of silky vines over her shoulders and along her back. She smelled like sunlight, and had eyes that transfigured what they saw—they transfigured even him—eyes that glinted possibilities that live even in the meanest of moments, and people.

The darkness knew her name—hated her, desired her. Used her, tried to consume her, to make her part of the its massive, glowering emptiness.
She ran from it, hard and fast as she could, racing for the light that lives in the shining water, and the glittering sky—saw it, in front of her, somewhere down the road—remembered it in her flight, as she tumbled down the hill. Held it close, as she twisted into metal.

(On the flutter of an eyelid, everything turned)

Time froze, and contracted to its beginning. Awareness loitered palely about the edges, hollowed-out and stopped-in-place, while he faltered, reeling; captive to it, undone inside it—before everything unwound again—in a tsunami of gush and ache that remade the entire world. And even him.

But everything was out of synch, when time rebooted, a dissonance which remained; he persuades himself sometimes this has abated, or at least his sense of it has. Deep down, though— where his heart will not beat in common with illusion—he knows it never will.

She was, and must be.

He barely is, can barely be.

Time is an irrevokable moment, from illimitable perspectives; witnessed by stars, which see everything we can and cannot see; possessed, all, by a transfiguring girl, in the arc of her flight, on her crooked journey to a kinder home, and a truer light.

That is what he thinks, at least. It's the only thing that makes sense.

And it comes, I think, to this:

All’s been done so many times
and nothing’s left to say. Desire.
Need. Possibility. Just words,
anyway, and they’ve all been said.
Tellable told, thinkable thought.
Saleable sold, buyable bought.
And what has changed? Not a fucking thing.
Cause I’m still here, and she’s still there
and you—you’re wherever the hell you are—
and I’ve grown tired. Really tired.
A dragon, I think. A pyromaniac
gone weary of fire—and of everything
but stars.

And maybe, in the end, that’s all
there ever was.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Ave Maria. Barbacoa tacos, with lime, cilantro, and a wedge of avocado. The 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon. The smell of oak, wet with dew, at 6am. Cactus roses. Prufrock. Adam’s Curse. Peter Quince at the Clavier. Chicken Masala. Lady Lazerus. That Morning. Kindness, whenever it happens. Iced tea. Red Wind. Weaver’s perfume, wherever I may find it. As I Walked Out One Evening. The Ode to Joy. Look Homeward, Angel. The red dirt of home. Cherokee Creek. Spunky Holler. Tamales. When John Wayne holds Natalie Wood up in the air, and says, with gentleness and humanity, Let’s go home, Debbie. The British version of The Office. The Lady Eve. The Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. Gatsby. La Mexicana. Nessun Dorma. Redemption. Compassion. Red beans and rice. The game afoot. The Royal Tenenbaums. Buffalo grass. Sunflowers. Nothing but net. Love and Mercy. Thunder Road. Noir. That’s how it crumbles. Cookie-wise. Chana Masala. All things Gonzo. The smell of a baseball glove. My wound is geography. Baba ganoush. The Grievous Angel. Crossing the Colorado River, into San Saba County. If You See Her, Say Hello. Batboy. Colonel Blimp. The Big Sleep. Nigel Tufnel. Hey Jude. The Diary of Adam & Eve. Happy endings. The Lubitsch touch. Texas. Uva uvam vivendo varia fit. Mystery Girl.  I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me.