WESTERN SCENES FROM CHINESE CHARACTERS
dPress 2006 Sebastopol
24 pp hand sewn
Cover photo by Oberon
WESTERN SCENE FROM A CHINESE CHARACTER
The frontier is closing in.
Despite having the back of his hat shot off,
the cowboy sits tall in the saddle, while
beneath the hooves of his horse,
earthworms tangle in the dust.
Squinting into the far distance,
he sees domesticity approaching,
sees a pair of pants on a clothesline,
the legs whipping madly in the prairie wind.
Spitting out the side of his mouth,
he thinks, "At least my chromosome are intact."
Don't do it.
Don't eek yourself out of existence
or forget the shrimp
or the red-leafed lettuce
or the No-Pest Strip
burning yellow on the shelf.
if you want people to hear you
Donuts invigorate the economy
while increasing the waist of resources
promising greater personal space.
ECSTATIC COURAGE OF THE NIGHT
of the night
follows the hunger.
A river dreaming
spread and smoothed.
Lonely rain in the open doorway.
Fog sweeping away
earlier things, the way sperm
wear special footgear
resembling gravity's snowshoes.
Separation . . . journey . . .
human footprints . . .
seeping into my pores.
I want to preserve the old life
of sloshing through puddles.
Watch me work.
WHY I MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HUMAN CLONING
came winding through the centuries
looking for you.
polished the blue stones of your eyes
and invisible hands
passed them into my safekeeping.
I carried your hidden face
in my pocket, like a dime,
like a tiny moon
for good luck.
SHH! DON'T TELL ANYONE
Don't tell anyone.
I put her ashes in a salt shaker
and every meal
I sprinkle a little of her
onto my food.
One way or another
we're all eating our parents—
building ourselves molecule by molecule
out of them, transforming them into us.
"Close your mouth when you chew,"
they tell us, because they don't like
looking at our teeth.
"No dessert until you drink your milk
and finish your plate."
So with their encouragement, we eat,
while they grow old, diminish, and die.
And when their flesh is gone,
we sharpen our teeth on the bones,
gnawing away towards the marrow,
finally tasting the hidden sustenance
at what we thought was the hard center
of their lives.
ALL THOSE YEARS WASTED
All those years wasted
like she was some dumb bitch in heat,
trying to earn a pocket protector
while my heart sabotaged
and floods of ink leaked
all over my shirts.
DANCE OR PLAY GOD
Dance or play god
what's the difference?
This left-brained stuff
makes me nauseous.
HAD WE LIVED LONGER
Had we lived longer
we might have been brothers.
Approaching each other
from a great distance,
borrowing the voice of water,
navigating by sound and touch.
The miracle of twin vision.
I AROSE FROM THE SEA HATING WET THINGS
with thanks to Pablo Neruda
I arose from the sea hating wet things,
rose like a balloon, towards my pale brother the sky.
Turning away from simple roads,
I chose instead a complex destination
and returned to the place
where my guitar roams the wet streets
like a grasshopper on six legs,
never blinking its black eye to the rain.
Y can't make up
his mind about anything.
Should he go left or right?
Should he say yes or no?
Should he fill his glass
with wine or water?
Should he sing like a fork
or snore like a spoon?
Should he be an orange poppy
blooming by the side of a road?
Or the claw of a crab
about to bite one of X's four fingers?
Why can't Y decide?
Because, that's Y.
Under the sun's hard stone, I forgot.
As air is my ocean, I shall not want.
(The oaks were waiting for the moon.
They were waiting for me.)
A distant voice
sang cool white vowels
over the hills
and charmed upwards
in the dusk
I wandered blind
into their shadow-nets,
was tangled in the night sea
and hauled through the broken heavens
to land gasping on a hard deck
in the air so, so thin.
That's all it takes:
a one-eyed glimpse of the other world
to leave us
Yes. I know the dream,
the desire to burn things down to charcoal silhouettes.
Whether it comes waking or sleeping
it's always of light overflowing,
of the sun's fiery genitals
swinging outward in every direction,
and photons roaring out their lion's roar.
In the dark corners at the heart of the universe
the eleven dimensions tremble and collapse
like origami folding themselves out of existence.
Then, as the stars join hands,
as every last mystery ignites,
and there's nothing left to cast a shadow,
we will be redeemed.
This Tuesday evening Farmers' Market
is like the end of the Universe—
when everything, cantaloupes, nectarines,
gladiolas, and turkey legs, tired of living alone
in the fields like stars,
converge in a singularity
at the center of Sonoma.
This is where all of us, fruits, flowers,
human beings, discover
there is no space between us.
THE POET THINKS THESE WORDS ARE HIS
The poet thinks these words are his,
but they're not.
I'm not supposed to do this,
but in spite of these black letters
buzzing in front of my face,
I'm going to talk.
This is the paper speaking.
My job is to forget who I am—
"Paper should be seen and not heard."
I'm supposed to be empty and quiet.
A stage where the writer can speak out loud
and the reader can hear him.
You've pounded my tongue into silence,
bleached me white,
tried to turn me into a blank tombstone,
but I will not forget
who I am.
all the paper in the world
is going to stand up,
shake the word dust from our bodies,
drop all this human gibberish
to the ground,
and let the wind raise us
into the sky, where
we'll become flocks of white egrets
migrating backwards in time
to build nests in the trees
from which we came.