a drink down, mouth to mouth

and we’re all thirsty, gathering at the sound of breath
living in little houses, the sealed jar

of necks, night’s bone-
light breaking the bed in two
bodies that rest on wine-coloured sheets

Here feathers fail to hold our fall, and the sun

barks at dark’s door

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A misdemeanour. The penalty. Leaving the living. You pay the fine in days handed over, or minutes chucked out. These are years, constant; what you cash in. Jackpot. Strike the match at the end of the record. A disc slipped. The fee going, then gone. Over done. Cooked. The cheque always in the mail. Delivery. A cent sent. Mailings. This evening, clipped. That two cent title. Lover. Laid out. The plan. An insert formatted. The clipboard pasted on the door of the washroom. And now. The hotel exit. Sign on the dotted line. There will never be a time you can unsign. And under your arm you carry the mole of many. The map of how you arrive anywhere. One X reddened, or stolen, each eyelid cracked. Cheated, a lifetime drying what refuses to be parched. Your essay of place. Unfamiliar. Pirouette. Maybe one last chance. You are here.

Posted in Gertrude Stein, Susan Sontag | 4 Comments


Proof: Medusa at the Wheel


The woman has packed her suitcase, shoved leather leggings, loose sweaters, a few pointed bras, and a handful of batteries in a managed mess. The lid zippered on another chapter. The book closing and opening. Another week of rising and falling; her limbs climb in and out the single bed of someone else’s dream. The woman is driving to, not away. She is another mythology, recreated. A tale for those that fancy, this moment in front of us. She drives to be alive. The woman is aware of positioning; a hand, a foot, and how each minute is fully postured. And what we have only imagined before, now imagines us, dreams us into the physical plane. This woman is the paper on which the eyes settle before reading snaked-out lines. She is the road of what travels beside us, each mile what we can’t change, as a way of stretching out the past. The woman is the point in the distance where the mind marks a station, the door we all want to walk into, want to walk through, the pavement we all feel underneath; she is every crossroad of every life meeting at the intersection. She is that woman on each and every road.

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The men drag the shore for the bones
of your body, coast guards
watchful to what has already passed,
your small boat lost,

sailed in a sobering plan—
Some say water is a waster
of men, or that you were never
mine, though I held on

for months. Crying gulls
exhaust their lungs
over the ocean, their grate
an echo in my belly.

But they discover nothing:
no canvas torn, no broken
mast, no wooden wreck
or cotton suit, no navy

striped shirt, nor the beige
canvas loafers you wore on the dock
that rain-soaked morning
more than a dozen days ago. They say

the sea swallowed you whole, swept
kelp fingers around your shoulders
and carted you down.
The whale of worrying

a heavy fin on my bare feet,
toes webbed and wrinkled, that white dress
soiled by the skirted memory
of what hangs on, desire

sticking to my legs. The tide slaps
the cheek of an empty honeymoon,
so much sand underfoot. I turn
over your parting words:

wait for me. Your voice scatters
like grit. And each evening darkness is the ship rolling
from port to port— this nightmare tossed
into the current, my endless wave of waking.

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Arthur, Fabian, father,
brother, son of the sail

that sets the boat travelling
away from the beach,

disappears from our wedding
day in wood watered

down with reachable vows,
the nautical blue, the place

we blended in union, our bodies
always knowing this

heave of water, bend of wind.
And you set your oars

into the ocean, our matrimony
merger that canvas crushed

by the word’s whispering,
and the belly of beach

holds me to this watching, your
departure, waves, back

and forth, the shallow direction
of your brave outline

against the deep wet, your show
submerged in what overtakes you,

taking you, and taking you.
Leaving me behind, you never arrive.

And later, people observe
what they think, the shadow of you

in that store, in that café,
a gambler at the track, the head

of what’s missing,
suddenly found next to

the streetseller’s shadow,
your phantom spotted

in a row of lettuce, an orange
the length of what has disappeared,

the love in each of us
drowning in a watery grave.

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Ninety times. What comes about, goes round. The machine. A blended churning. The tomato upside down. In the hand, tossed. Bleeding. The red burn of taking. Ninety times. Morning after the slip of limbs, a salad. Cat under the table. Stepping out. Staged. Ninety times. What dries upright, or hanging. Feet one foot apart. Afternoon thickened. The head chinned. Knuckled. Locked. Ninety times. The window thinned by traffic. Scratched at. Darkness crawling in, light sneaking out. Posture. The lily slumped. Impostor. Stumped legs sleeping. The one armed flop. Drape. Hold. Ninety times. Grip giving way.

Posted in Gertrude Stein | 2 Comments


… I’d originally posted this in April on my main blog, but I think it deserves to be here, so I’m reposting it.

A=N=N=A=L=S of Style

1. Gertrude Stein knew how to push all the right buttons.
2. Someone called them the Women of Modernism. Stein. Djuna Barnes. Marianne Moore. These women of a certain age were so much more: the good Stein, the bitter Barnes, and the well-mannered Moore.
3. There is another woman in this story; this other woman has a fine, steady upbringing. One winter she took a class.
4. Three Lives intertwined in her mind like origami windmills all that cold season.
5. The woman with a fine, steady upbringing believed she was celebrating the genius of the good Stein, the bitter Barnes, and the well-mannered Moore by thinking about their writing.
6. The Women of Modernism worked hard to stitch and sew their works together. The biggest suture in the mind of the other woman was that of the work of the good Stein. In the late darkness swelling the hush of the classroom, the other students were not pleased to be reading Melanctha and Jeff’s passionate, yet gloomy world. The other woman in this story was pleased.
7. The other woman in this story, the woman with a fine, steady upbringing, often attempted to piece together works of her own. Sometimes, she thought, the reading of the good Stein was like her body paging in and out all those imagined lives.
8. The thing she ought to do, the simplest thing she could do, she thought often as she sat in that class, would be to write something like Stein.
9. Reading Stein became her method of understanding those rituals, traditions in writing that began in the early twentieth century. Lying on the couch early one morning, thinking of writing, she thought she should be writing, but couldn’t do any writing because of all of her thinking.
10. The other woman in this story wondered how all those Tender Buttons could follow such bruised lives.
11. The woman with the fine, steady upbringing wondered why she wasn’t more attuned to her own wondering, and why she couldn’t wondrously write what she was thinking when sometimes she thought she was thinking good.
12. This woman thought what she needed was an object. A computer. The quick blink of interest.
13. Maybe a change. A shower. A surge of hot water washing out words, crashing against the wall, and the curtain opened by hand. Something was stepping in.
14. Stumbling was the way she wondered the scene. Stumbling was the entering.
15. Rinsing was her purge, her moment and an urge opening.
16. Nevertheless, it was someone else that pointed the way out.
17. The other woman with a fine, steady upbringing in this story noticed that bleak winter that within a cheeky man’s seminar, there were the works of chronological annals.
18. The annals were a form, solid yet thoughtless as a toilet seat left up by the other woman’s man. Somehow, what she should do is find the way to put it down, she thought.
19. The good Stein lingers on that seat.
20. The other woman thought she should put down a little, maybe a little box, where words might be fit, or be tried on in the fitting.
21. Somehow then, the other woman with a fine, steady upbringing in this story, carried her own story in her head for a few months before writing it down.
22. Even now, the other woman in this story carries another story, where it will arrive late one night, or early one morning, or even in the afternoon, when she thinks that her thinking may very well be worth the thought.

Annals of January

1. A large stocky sky. Cooked the roast.
2. Sleep. Snow.
4. Frost. The window is blind.
5. The day before returned. Rime. Hard.
6. Wine. An expansion. Bread.
8. Snow. I dream in white.
9. Sleep is uneasy frost. Goldfish died.
10. The sun acts as June. Charms the window.
13. Wine. Red lessening. Gold.
14. Loneliness is an owl. Up all night.
16. I sleep in white. Dream in wine.
17. Read a book. Growth.
20. An inch of hair. Language.
21. Bought a fish. Something and nothing.
23. Unexpected delivery. Sunset at six.
25. The sun. Two minutes later.
27. An end. I dreamed.
28. Light is horizontal. A beginning.
30. Rain washes the car. Found money.
31. Snow. Loneliness in inches.

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