Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

A bird sits in
the palm of
my hand,
collecting an energy,
its hollow bones a
precious persuasion
to turn
and not

And I was going to
pen a plea
about the collective
hunger of countries,
from Appalachia
to somewhere other
in Africa,
on this black
market day
of fast-food,

But that
faithless bird
collected itself
right into nothingness,
fooled by a
false clarity
of clouds on panes,
and my eyes
(I let them leave),
rolling to
seek the
smudge of truth
at the back
of my id

So here I am again,
with the ink
of my words
on an organ of rain,
feeling for
the perfect exposition
to rub resolutions
that can wring
from Freud
a nod of epiphany,
as he strokes
the leather
and beard

But there are
few arrivals
among the fallen,
only more pains,
more windows,
more flights
and departures
to get lost in
and hungry,
if also
and blessedly
corralled and
fucked and

And certainty is
a black and white
I’d love to try on,
and burrow in,
all winter long
in a reflectionless
that plays
our song,
over and over
and over

I’ll sing something
like a small child
afraid of an
echo's betrayal,
my tune changing
on a dime
or your quicker nickel,
wheels spinning for
the weightlessness
of air
in that doubtful country
between take-off and

Until my bones are
hollowed of
all their finite ego,

this cheap longing

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


To the Ojibwe, she was known as the Foolish Girl. For she refused the comfort and warmth of the wigwam, preferring a tent of stars instead. Even in the winter, her family could not pull her away from the sky long enough to sleep with them.  Yet her sister was surprised to find a warm hand when she pressed it to her heart as a plea. As if the girl’s bones were wood that held a hidden fire.

They called her the Foolish Girl. Because they could not see.

On this night, deep in winter’s darkness, she gazed upon a red star winking like an eye on the eastern horizon. Her lips formed words without thought. An owl answered her, but she did not hear.

She wished to marry that star. She wished for the star’s light to enter her. To pour from her hair, her skin, her mouth when she sang. She wished for the star’s love to keep her warm, far away from the cold and darkness of this place her people called Turtle Island.

She fell into the sleep of silence with ice on her tongue.  Her eyes looked up. 

When she awoke, she was in the star world. It was very different, and very beautiful. Light prevailed. The red star was there, transformed into a man with red hair. He loved her well, as it was effortless to love in this world. She was as happy as she hoped to be. Time passed on the crest of a wave. Unmarked by seasons, hunger, or cold.

An old woman lived in the star world, too. She sat upon a hole in the sky. One day, while the old lady stretched her legs, the girl approached the hole. She could hear a sound travel up from the forgotten world below.

It was the flute of her people. Carried to her on a wind spirit’s back.

In its song was the crickets’ collective memory, an owl’s ghostly call, the breath of her sister’s unborn baby against a soft, wheat breast. It was the beating of snow from the cardinal’s wings. It was a lone wolf’s baying, and a mother’s lullaby swaddling her in sleep.

It was the gravity of home.

The wave of time broke. The flute’s song was drowned under a torrent of rain falling from the sky. The Foolish Girl thought of ceremonies she would miss, harvests she could not meet, a family’s river of grief. The longing to see them manifested itself as lightning, while regret pounded its black fist against the terrible brightness. And the rain poured harder from its hole.

When the old woman returned, she saw straight into the girl’s heart. The light in her soul had turned blue.

“I sit here for good reason,” she chastised the girl.

But gravity was already stretching the hole in her heart. Pulling her down. And the old woman was fonder of the foolish girl than any other of her star children. So she turned her back on the hole in the sky, as the girl leaped from a womb.

A cord of light swung across the night sky. Another falling star.

And before morning dawned, the broken cries of an infant answered the owl’s imperfect call. The breast was offered. She drank its warm milk.

They would come to name her: "Who Lightens the Whole Place."  Because there were stars in her eyes when she looked at the people, and the home, she so loved.

This they could see.


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!
While the kernel of this story does come from an Ojibwe  (also
known as Chippewa) legend, I took many, many liberties
to make it my own.  "Who Lightens the Whole Place"
is an authentic Anishinabe name, however.  

The painting is "Indian Camp" by Carl Henry von Ahrens.  He
befriended the Ojibwe in Ontario and was given the name,
"Cluster of Stars."

I hope that all of you who celebrate this holiday
will enjoy the day with loved ones.  And if you can't
be home, then I hope you still feel the light of
love in that warmest of houses inside our hearts.

I am grateful for you all. 

Monday, November 23, 2009


Pulled for submisison


This photo captured my attention a week ago,
and hasn't left me since. The rest of the series,
taken as part of a university project,
is here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I don’t know, I don’t know.  I never know.

This is what I know.

I remember finding an old tortoise shell in our backyard.  Near the woods at the bottom of the hill.   I slipped my hand into its domed cave, where a small head once brooded itself.  My fingers peeked out to form a Hydra tail.  It was strange, if also perfect.  For the rest of the afternoon, I wore the shell as a bracelet.  I was some kind of mythological creature, or maybe the tortoise from Aesop’s fable (though, in truth, I was always the hare).  I don’t remember the details, just the feeling.  I felt the peculiar, singular joy of a child living without constructed stages.  I was uncontained.

I could tell that my mother was disturbed by the thing.  And I see why now.  This hollowed token of death, swallowing up her daughter’s arm.  My mother had a tender heart, you see.  But children are fascinated by death, and endings.  An ending is the limit of imagination.  The farthest crawl.  To make an ending a beginning?  This is the beginning of a child testing infinity, of being God.

My father made me remove the shell when it was time for practice.   I’m sure I made some kind of scene.  And I don’t remember what happened to the shell afterward.  Perhaps it was buried, like the box you uncovered.  But years later, when we were living in Paris, he bought me a tortoiseshell bracelet.  I pretended to like it.  Because he’d remembered.  And some part of him felt guilty for what was taken from me.

Because of you, I remember this.

And this image in my mind has been played.  Over and over again.  Of sliding my grown hand through that narrow window, and watching my fingers, my palm, my wrist just . . .


Sunday, November 8, 2009


That fist against
the diaphragm
pressing for release
is not a parasitic monster
to be jack-in-the-boxed in,
but the shape of her,
a shadow of him,
knuckling to leap
at halfway

And a true fanatic
of true-blue love
will disown
all tongue-tied parables,
cheek her
and choose instead
to show and spread
a mouth full
of matchsticks
tucked between

You find destruction
You find it

So does he,
so might she,
with all the
crusted consideration
and fleshless discretion
for dots
to be
lied to,

But as carbon breath
freed into its hell cell
of dioxide eyes darkened,
yet unblackened by shame,
love’s skin is as
pure as a
dew of daydreams
kissing its
sulfur blade


The artwork is Klimt's "Danaƫ."
The poem's inspiration was my
re-reading of Henry & June.