Friday, December 31, 2010

Flooding In

Flooding In

From the chasms of outer space
that are unreachable.
Down through the atmosphere,
and the balled-up air underpinning it.
Through the clouds and smog,
through the upturned arms of branches
and into the scalps of evergreens.
Down through roofs,
wooden beams and brick chimneys.
Through pale and bowed ceilings,
and down through our skulls
while we sleep,
and also flooding in from within,
a tide, higher, higher.

Thursday, December 30, 2010



What is standing across from me
on the other end of my seesaw

to prevent me from catapulting
into the sky. Or smashing down

through the floorboards, splinters
floating up like volcanic ash.

What is my counterweight, and
what body does it borrow when

it manifests itself to me. Does it
jump on and off, rattle my stance

by jiggling a foot. How steady is
the ground, right now. On a scale

of Richter-registered tremors to
Mount Sinai composure, where

is this patch of planet. Dear deity
of gravity, I feel there is something

between us. Thank you for sharing
this fulcrum so very graciously.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010



One night, when your body is readying
itself for sleep, you resist. Instead,
you go to the living room, twist the little
knob at the base of the lamp that calls light
back into the bulb, the shade. You sit
near the lamp and make plans. Tomorrow,
what friend you will call or visit,
how she takes her coffee. What errands
you will complete, a new umbrella
or bar of soap to purchase, the shops
you mean to explore but never do,
their windows full of glittering cookware
or single shoes turned out toward
the street, as if the wearer had stepped out
of them, through the glass and into
the world, vulnerable. Which restaurant
you will select, and why. The Japanese
place for its emptiness. Or that healthy cafe,
for who you once ate there with. You plan
not to cancel your year by eliminating
all space from it, shipping away your time
box by box. You will plan leisurely,
at the same pace by which you recall
dreams in the morning, kneading together
the pieces that surface by returning.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Forgot About the Car

I Forgot About the Car

I forgot about the car.
I parked the car, and left it in the lot.
The lot was empty,
except for me and my car. I forgot
it as soon as the door
recoiled from my hand, a wing,
retracting. One moment,
I was in the car, braking, parking.
Days were fed in. Snow
fell like pollen and coated the floor
where civilized people
walked, shivering. The more
it snowed, the less I knew
about how I had gotten where I had.
Why had I come to the city.
Could I track my own prints, add
them and yield an origin.

Friday, December 24, 2010



Someone held this apple,
turned it beneath the light
to judge the grain of its skin, the color,
its resistance to being gripped.

To spare us this phenomenology,
apples get labeled.

Granny Smith, a sticker reads, and we ready
our tongues for tartness.
We know that our teeth easily dig into Gala,
and that the deep red skin of the McIntosh
is tough, slightly bitter.

So few experiences announce themselves to us
in this way.
At very least we can agree on
what happens in the unnameable darkness of the mouth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Have You Been Living With

What Have You Been Living With

With moths who have flattened themselves
against the door, and flutter out in front of you,
entering your home before you.

With termites, manufacturers of holes.
Cracked window. Faucet that cannot stop
entirely. Shifty bookshelf.

With hair treated like a calendar, growing
and growing to mark some event or ending.
Minor cavities. Mild vertigo.

With noise inside of you. Or quietness.
Images you can’t wrap your voice around.
Static-edged transmissions.

With untriggered ailments. Your own
digestion of time. The hours you are making
and storing. A silo. A stream.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



Hang the pots and pans from hooks in the ceiling,
a cluster of low, steel planets.

Insert all knives in the slotted block,
blades safe in the wood.

Slip books beside each other in the shelves.

A thick, white roll of paper towels
should be suspended horizontally.
It offers you its arm.

We make an item, and invent for it a holder
so that we can better reach it,
so that we can put it away,
satisfied with how the things we need are kept
for us, stable, contained.

Monday, December 20, 2010



Thataway. Farther. Further.
Keep walking. Yup, that’s it, keep going.

You know the territory here.
Are you concerned. It concerns you,

this place fits so snug into what
you expected. How to experience this

gridlock of verb tenses, hindsight
yanking on the needle of your compass.

Keep going, pass the post office,
past it. You passed it, actually, about a mile

or twenty back. I didn’t tell you
at the time. Because I didn’t want to hurt

your feelings. You are doing such a fine
job of navigating. I can’t take over for you

now, but I will help. You’re getting
warmer. Warmer. Hot. Hotter, hotter, burning,

excruciating solar heat. Whoops,
there go your wings. Melting. Burning. On fire.

Friday, December 17, 2010



A baby turns six, begins devoting
hours to training. Here is how to assemble
a bow from shoelaces. Because
this world is made of things that break apart
and then pile up, we learn numbers.
We sing the litany of our alphabet as if it
had narrative, and when it ends,
we sing it again. Each day, we leave school
to walk home. We learn to return
to a house. We fight bedtime, an instinctive
stalling before the lapse in action.
As adults, we make agreements about time:
a year working for this company,
another year in which we promise to sleep
and bathe and enter an apartment.
Every twelve months, time topples over
onto its head, struggles to stand.
See how much better we are getting with
endings, we have been rehearsing
from the instant we first lifted our eyelids.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What the Body Is

What the Body Is

Symptom. Effect. The shadow that follows
our decisions.

Pushpin in the world map, clinging as it goes
from cape to sphere.

Calendar. Collection of dates, appointments,
behavior. Daybook.

Thin duplicate of every check written. Footprint.
Tracks. A trace.

The block of marble that we break. Sculpture of ice,
butter. Sandcastle.

Bullet. Bee. Chasing a trajectory. Satellite, asteroid.
Chewed tennis ball.

Bandage, carrying injuries. Plaster cast, its messages:
Get well. Feel better.

Not the car, or the road, or the house. The doorbell.
The knob. The lock.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010



The year is nearly gone.
It pulls away from us,
a bus attending to schedule.

To honor any leaving,
talk to where you are by looking,
purposefully. I tell this building
I will miss its windows,
small and square as stamps.
Goodbye, petaled cactus
called sempervivum.
Farewell, layered California Avenue graffiti,
a pink, dripping heart,
recently emblazoned with heavy.

At sunset, the sky is full.
Be well, I say while memorizing its pieces:
planes, the moon, orange clouds, smog,
plenty of light but no sun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum

To see design more clearly, sprinkle tormented
gibberish across the page, flouring a countertop

so dough can be flattened without sticking.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur,

adipisci velit. The letters are a page. To a reader,
they signify Your name here, a story about the work

you do, about all you have accomplished.
In these pretty words, breath and boundary.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Blah blah
blah reverberating. It is sweet and becoming

to erect paragraphs, cardboard cut-outs standing
in for architecture. Don’t lean on that column,

or look too closely at this text. It is only here
to protect us from silence, to invoke the pretense

of grace, greeked. What can fill this lonely room?
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit,

nonsense, scissored Cicero loosely translated as
There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks

after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain.
A most versatile text. Embroider it on dust ruffles,

print it on potpourri. Spell it out in refrigerator magnets
and on exposed beams. Use its invocation to decorate.

Design something for your reader, and in the meantime,
let them see the exquisite potential of your project.

Murmur it into their cheek, the spine of a book,
a page: lorem ipsum, this is what we build with.

Note: this poem owes much to this article from The Straight Dope.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Get to the Other Side

To Get to the Other Side

The pigeon scurries on matchstick legs,
head pushed forward to help it to run faster,
to get out of the street and away from the car.
It has forgotten about the wings on its shoulders.

Six deer lined up on the riverbank,
a garland, a paper chain, headed up the grass
for the road under the snow sifting down.

The spider showers with me.
She has learned that the steam makes the ceiling,
her floor, slick. She lowers herself a millimeter,
her body the harness.

The parking lot is full of evergreens.
A seagull guards the entrance.
What a weird forest
we are inspired to throw together.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What We Know Too Well

What We Know Too Well

It falls from us,
a towel heavy from having
taken the water from our skin.

The familiar melody
that wormed its way through
the brain, to wedge itself

in a slim crevasse--
we sing it without knowing
we are singing, our voice slides

so easily around
its grooved and bony frame.
What we do most often exists

only in average,
its commonest take. The black
grounds flecking my index finger

after pouring
the coffee into the filter, the button’s
give and green glow, the scream

of the hot water
through the pipes, the showerhead:
None of this is happening now.

Today’s shower
is yesterday’s, the car is planted in
every parking space you have ever

chosen before
at the grocery store. Even with
your new winter jacket, in every

memory you have
in which you are cold, you are
wrapped in the same blue wool coat.

We need the
protection that this offers us,
the soothing possibility that

all things can
stay as they are when we last
encountered them. The towel

will be there
when we reach, the man’s face
and throat will still be smudged

with stubble,
the woman will answer when we
dial the number no longer hers,

not for years.
We bury our face in what we know
too well, it is so soft and dark.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dance Stupider

Dance Stupider

Dance stupider. Make less sense.
Order a dish that you hate,
just to confirm that the bitterness
of radishes is still unpleasant.

Be late, but do not rush, do not
look at any announcement of time,
do not will anyone to be impressed
by your goodness or responsibility.

Forget the stamp on a birthday card,
and open it, weeks later, when it returns.
No one expects a four-tiered cake from you.
Stop furtively scouring the grout.

Let an unthinking part of you
steer for a stretch. When you recover,
nobody loathes you. Gloriously small
are our grievances against the self.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Bulls

The Bulls

He’s got this life that’s real exciting,
always on a bike outside. Mountain biking,
dirt biking, two wheels and he’s on it.
Four wheels, even, over the dirt,
dogs all running around his feet,
going in the woods.

One time he calls me, asks what I’m doing.
Watching the Bulls, the Bulls verse somebody, I say.
He says Come over tomorrow.
Next day I go over to his place and we go in the living room.
There’s six little dogs all crawling on each other,
falling on their faces which are beautiful,
eyes pushed wide apart.
Pit bulls’ eyes look like humans, you ever seen them.
Living alone, him and these pit bulls,
pit bulls are what he raises.
He goes, Which one do you want?

Not often you meet someone like that, knowing the land
is large enough and large enough,
giving you your own dog to take home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Deep Thought

In Deep Thought

Down, we are pulled down into it,
our toes reaching for the bottom
of the swimming pool which has dropped away
beneath us.

Every present person dims.
Deep thought shoots out of us, ink veiling
all that is around.

Down into its cavern, where big, monosyllabic words
drip down like stalactites.

We are alone, down there,
lolling in a tarry pit.

Returning from deep thought takes work.
And when we emerge, we are startled
at how intensely bright it is up there, up here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Big Reveal

The Big Reveal

Are you ready for this.
Have you thought of it upon waking
every morning. What do you think
we will show you.

Is there a truck blocking it, shielding
you from seeing what is behind its flank.
And then horizontal blinds,
dangling from the telephone wires.
Two men carrying a pane of frosted glass.

What magical series of obstructions
prevents you from seeing too soon.

The scarf wrapped around your eyes.
The hands beneath the scarf.
Your eyes behind their lids.

At the moment of the big reveal,
knowledge will pour down
from the sky like light.

Remember, it will look different.
Remember, you might feel unsettled.
We’ve turned the cameras off.
You won’t want to be watched.
This is your moment.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

With Love

With Love

Is my wallet in my bag. Will I remember it in the morning.

How much change do I have. Enough for the bus, for laundry later.
Are Canadian quarters mixed in. What did I do with the Japanese change.

I don’t need it, but should I try to find it. Should I get up
and look in my jewelry box, in my suitcase, my house dark
and neighbors all asleep, inserted into their beds like chargers
jabbed in the jugulars of cell phones.

Is that a spider vein, under my left eye.
Do we get those on our faces. Is it a broken blood vessel.

Did I shut the window in the living room.
I remember my hand around the crank. Was that yesterday.

What day is tomorrow. How is the week almost over.
How. And the year.

What if we alternated how we measured years.
December our new January. May reinvented as halfway.
Could we slow it. Or introduce sanctioned unpredictability
into our diets.

Did I pay my library fine
before moving last year. Did I give back that book
someone had lent me. Wasn’t it autographed.
It was, a black-markered message, With Love.
I did. Return it.

The tires need more air.
We need a new spare. When should I buy it.
Is my car clawing at the hole in the ozone layer.
Is it efficient.

Leave it nicer than when you first moved in,
or leave it just as it was when you found it.
Which is more possible.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We Were Engineered to Want

We Were Engineered to Want

We were engineered to want,
to search for whatever can occupy
our hollows. Every type of hunger
is biological. Our bodies are babies,
brats. It is a basic human need
to have needs. Can you picture
a civilization already fully satisfied,
no reaching. We want for ourselves
and for others. The people we love,
when we study them as individuals,
can seem frail, unaccompanied.
We drape our needs over them
to solve their empty-handedness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Apartment

The Apartment

People have been living in your home,
the apartment that you rent, for forty years,
fifty years. Who were they. Where did
they go. The apartment remembers them
a little, a kitten sticker on the inside
of the medicine cabinet, a glass turkey
with a divot in its back for a votive candle.
When I moved in to one place, a toaster
tucked in the highest shelf, in the very back.
It was full of crumbs and dust, a record of appetite,
emptiness. A home is our own because
we decide to pour our possessions into
its pockets. It contains us, helps us to know
what we need more of, less of. Go get wood
and bring it in here. And matches,
the fireplace says. When we snap back,
And where might we find some wood,
it’s not even angry. Go to the supermarket,
sweetheart. We obey it. It keeps us apart
from the unpartitioned, cold wilderness.
We want to be who it tells us we are.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holding Back

Holding Back

Think of when you last held back,
felt some part of you holding you by the shoulders
or clutching the back of your own collar.

How does the division of labor occur.
What part dons police cap and badge, plays bouncer,
sheriff, boss. And what sliver of you

flares up in response, flailing, a thief
with a mouth tied directly to his heart. You are in possession
of dualities, but because they are cuffed

and move together, they could be mistaken
for one big being. They keep hoping you’ll let them swap
jobs, since they can access the same memories.

Friday, November 19, 2010



No sugar. Instead, honey.
Or maple syrup.

No basil. Some other herb
for it, oregano, cilantro.

No milk, cereal in the bowl.
Box already in the trash.
Orange juice. Half and half. Coffee,
depending on desperation.

No finishing nails or screwdriver.
Screws, hammered in.
Quickly and with force.

No top button. A safety pin.
A brooch, pinned with its face
inside the blouse. Tape. Glue.
Sealed with clear nail polish.
Hair gel. Hairspray.
Careful posture.

No gym. The yoga DVD.
What you can remember of yoga class
last year, reenacted in the living room,
blinds closed, towel folded on the floor.
Five minutes of stretching.
Twenty stomach crunches. Jumping jacks.
One push up.

Seven things to finish today,
tomorrow if you do not get to all of them.
Starting one now, and at least one later,
after lunch. At least one more before sleeping.
Four items in a list on a scrap of paper.
Titled Goals for Next Week.
Crossed out and retitled Don’t Forget.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Experiment

An Experiment

Why shouldn’t outer space show up in our veins,
the pockmarked face of Mars replicated trillions
of times upon the rocky edge of cell membranes.
Lava churning at the planet’s core undulates
like flames, like human proteins, and our lungs
contain dense forests of capillaries. What is there
to learn here. Is the message to stay put, that we
are on the right planet. Or did the galaxy fashion us
from itself as an experiment, bodies as Petri dishes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



Like second sets of bones, your undergarments,
ladies, are meant to provide structure. Of course,

with structure and support comes pain. Discomfort
is to be expected. If it hurts, you know it is working.

Our flesh is too wayward to be good. Unheld
skin, jiggling, is unseemly, even in our own

eyes. Also, the undergarments cannot be seen.
They must be worn, but we do not want any

visible evidence of them poking out through
the clothing. We recommend Spanx, as their

punishment is effective, yet not unattractive.
Though they will mostly be covered, they should

be pretty, your bras and panties. Straps should be thin
and beribboned. Scalloped edges are nice. Daintiness

in appearance is essential. Now, we do not mean
to alarm you. But eventually, your undergarments

will turn on you. They all do, be ready for it. Do not
take it personally. Put yourself in their shoes,

imagine bearing their burden. The flowery lace
at your waist will break. The underwire of a bra

will snake its way into your rib cage, poking you
with a talon. It is so sick of you ignoring all

that it does for you. Practice gratitude for the
ingeniousness of undergarments, for how they

hold you in and back, for the way they punish
you and still press themselves into your parts.

Friday, November 12, 2010



Not just South, not below.
The Underworld is inaccessible
unless you are in it. It exists,

a boat collapsed on the bed
of the ocean, pinned to the dark
sand by miles of water above.

To get to the Underworld,
you must slink down into your
method of experiencing

the surfaces we smash
meaning into. We rely on sight
before the Underworld.

Slide under, where you
can look back, and see that
sight is only superstition.

Thursday, November 11, 2010



I literally could not believe it. Literally.
I mean, I totally could not believe that it

was happening, again. The information
could not fit into my head, literally, it

would be like sticking a USB plug into
an electrical socket in the wall. Know

what I mean? When you literally cannot
comprehend what you see, how random

it is, this thing happening to you so freaking
fast. This is so random, literally. What

causes us to meet random people, and of that
group, to feel that you have been programmed

on the exact same wavelength, literally
the same one. It totally stretches reality,

how random and amazing people can be.
Even to voice it, I have to shift gears,

drag what I mean into the room and try
to give it life, literally, so that you’ll see it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Arrangement

The Arrangement

Something is different, what is it.
The couch has wandered to the left
side of the room. The ceiling fan
has been cleaned, the stucco of dust
scraped from each blade. The light bulbs
have been switched. They are whiter,
more radiant. You swept. You sat
on the floor, grinding a sponge into
the linoleum, convinced that the stains
were beginning to loosen. You bleached
the floor. Something smells like apples
in the house, you have been cleaning.
Or baking. Or drinking. Your hair,
is that what it is. You never wear it like
that, the top half pinned back into
what do you call that. Or your eyelashes,
you tinted them. It’s your appendix,
isn’t it, you have had it removed.
Or you slept more hours than usual,
no nightmare about the cats escaping.
Whatever it is, I love it, keep doing it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



How would you do it. Show me. Demonstrate.
What is the sequence of gestures. Do I start

with my nose on your wrist, or do I wait until
you have offered it. Or your nose at my wrist,

we take turns being bloodhounds. How do you
know which part of me is a curtain, and which

a window. Do you go around tying back every
curtain you see. What have you seen. Show me.

You gesture, and I’ll guess. Monster. Surprised
by a monster. Hearing. Your ear. No, sounds like.

Sounds like ear. Fear? Fear. Are you afraid to
act this out. Please don’t be, my dear. Let me see.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

There Are Encounters

There Are Encounters

There are encounters that change nothing.
No thing crawls from Earth’s surface. No
cliff or building disintegrates, no one drowns
in splintered rock or brick. No ropes
bind anyone to anyone else through the solar
plexus. No eyes latch onto other eyes, no knees
collapse as if the legs had been deboned. No
meals go uneaten, no water upturned
into a lap. No one leaves their body to look
down at the opaque beings peopling the towns.
There are encounters that change nothing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010



Stores die with the same velocity as bugs.
One day, humming, clicking. Shiny doors
parting like beetle wings. And then, gone.
Emptied out. A shell. The sudden voicelessness
of the SupeRx, its sign darkened and waiting
to be pried from the building. The town talks
about it. This is how they mourn. And when
the people of the town encounter those
they know working a till at the grocery story,
or behind bank glass, SupeRx gets stuffed
into the quiet between them. Always Did you
hear about the SupeRx, mmhmm, isn’t it
a shame. That a strange, new business
can rise to its feet in a body not belonging
to it. Blue signage plastered over red.
Shameful, the brutal reincarnation
of buildings. It’s a pharmacy again within
the month, sentenced to revisiting sickness,
the earnestness with which we fix ourselves.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Similar But Different

Similar But Different

Hold up any two items, one in each hand.
Lift them in front of you and stare into them,

one and then the other, reading and reading
them as if they were passages. These objects

are the same, they are light, they are smooth,
they remain inert and allow the pressure

of your eyes. But this one is dull and old,
has rolled in the dirt. And the other gleams,

unaccustomed to being touched. Your grip,
your gaze ties together what you consider.

These two items lean in, want to get closer.
The act of comparing is a magnet. They inch

toward each other, the dark thing brightening
and the shining one dimmer. Select any two

fragments, objects or people, ghostly-gone
or in our dimension, and see how they indeed

are similar but different. Now what. What
do you do with this knowledge. How can

you go back to seeing any thing in isolation,
knowing that all is affixed, like scissors.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hands That Tremble

Hands That Tremble

Holding a dying creature during childhood
will leave you with hands that tremble.

The bird, tattered and bloody in the grass.
Restrain yourself from touching it.

The upturned, twitching moth, considering
its own mistake, bulb for moon.

The amputee cricket. The drowning worm,
stuck in a puddle. The punctured fish.

Your curiosity and compassion weaken you.
Watching a body go blank will tug

the ground up and down, infect you with tremors.
Yes, our footing is that precarious.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Keys

The Keys

Chain the keys together. The look of their teeth
will tell you nothing, but at least they are fluent

in locks. Keys let us talk to our houses, our vehicles,
identify us as their careful owners. Here I am again,

we tell them, or I will come back for you. Tied together,
they are a record of belonging. Some show what

we used to own, or where we used to go: a house,
states away, or an office bulldozed three years ago.

A key can be homeless this way. And we see purpose
in it. One day, we will encounter a locked place

that we need to enter. And the key that fits into nothing
will whisper into this lock’s secret mouth, Let me in.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sink at Night

The Sink at Night

Confront the sink at night.
The mess will be easier to deconstruct.

While you wet the plates
and pots, you can look out at the dark yard.

Every place outside
the bright box of your kitchen is wilderness.

Connect with it. Task
your hands. The soap knows what to do,

let it. If you press past
the window, the parked cars and garages,

what rises up in you?
You scrub from the dishes what is inside

of your belly. Erasing
consequences is hypnotic. Tomorrow, when

you wake up, your kitchen
will show little evidence of how you have

put it right. You will be
startled by the pallor and emptiness of the sink.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Wait

The Wait

Are you here, or are you waiting. When will it happen,
the next event, a shift. Your mind on your body’s roof,
looking up. The world’s enunciation turns crystalline.

You are concentrating on the future. Readying your eyes
for the bus, once it turns onto your block. Psychically
connecting with the phone to act the instant it is possessed

by the call. Anything not directly in front of you loses shape,
collapses, melts. Signs are everywhere, lightbulbs snap
and die, you run out of postage stamps. You slice a finger

scrubbing a knife. A song begins, slams your inner accelerator.
Now? Tonight? Next year? You’ve been promised magic,
a secret, glimmering door. You wait to be pushed through.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Storm Tracking

Storm Tracking

Thunderstorm warnings for later this evening.
We have just received word that thunder
and lightning are probable tonight. Be ready.
Remember that tires behave more erratically
in the rain. And do not be alarmed by flickering
in the sky; as we have predicted, here is the lightning.
Later, an eyewitness to the storm describes
the scene. Big leaves from palm trees were
blowing all over the road. The lightning
was like a camera flash. All of our machines
are working on tracking the storm. Here it is,
we have located its nucleus. This one dark cloud
is causing the storm. Well, it’s easiest to understand
that way, because the causes are mostly invisible.
Not since Spring of ’03 have we seen a storm
like this one, have we? Up to two inches of rain
is sitting out there on the road, or is soaking
into the earth and making mud. One witness
reports, palm trees were whipping up and down,
uprooting and smashing into cars. This storm
is serious. See how the local residents are
handling the water, the booming, the light.
Clue: they are holding umbrellas. Be prepared
for more rain this week. The thunder might return.
Sources tell us that storms are likely for the rest
of the month. We don’t know when this rain
will let up! Our machines have found the storm,
according to reports, the thunderstorm is now
directly overhead, hold still, it will pass,
just wait. But at least we know where it is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



Thank God for the arrows. What would
we do without them. We wouldn’t know

where to turn. Right or left, and how many
times. Who would warn us that the road

sharply veers. Suddenly, all exits within
a building would be uncertain. Restrooms

unlocatable. Parking structures sites of
exile without agents of decision, direction.

And death. Erase the arrows, and disarm
Robin Hood, soften and slow Diana,

her followers. We have this need: to launch
our gaze out in front of us, to follow

its trajectory. Tell us where to go, where
we are meant to go. We chase the arrow

offscreen to find what we have pierced.
We use it to search, to stab into the abyss

of the computer. Our cursor navigates,
a lantern, the tip of a spear, a stemless arrow.

And we unearth arrowheads from the lawn,
place them in a palm like stony goldfish

who have stopped moving. What do you
want of me. What are you pointing me toward.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Make Like a Tree

Make Like a Tree

Make like a tree
and leaf,
leave behind

what will later be called
your estate.
Look how small

your belongings get once
you see they
are a pile of wood,

metal smithereens dusting
the top like snow.
Make like a tree,

stand over roads, arms out,
peering down at
the little beings

accepting your shade.
Make like a tree,
plant yourself

in the park. Sip light, grow
even as they think
you are finished.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comma Comma And

Comma Comma And

Milk, sugar, and eggs.
Flour, butter, and salt.
To illustrate the comma,

we make a list of three
things, make a story
of the list. Ingredients

for bread, pie crust.
This, this, and also this:
the commas mean

addition, combination.
These things are unified
by our appetite for them.

We ask for what we lack
or want, reaching for it
and pulling it closer

to our bodies. A mixing
bowl is implied. A counter
is implied. In all lists,

an emptiness. Bring these
things to me. They belong
to me, to us, and this home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010



If you can’t see my mirrors,
I can’t see you,
the big truck says to my car,
to me.
The truck has eyes in the back
of its body.

I hide for a few miles. I go
creep close to the shoulder.
This agreement
allows me to disappear, because

depends on letting our eyes
I don’t know if the truck
has seen me.
The sign keeps reminding me
I’m here, barely.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting the Darkness Out of Our Systems

Getting the Darkness Out of Our Systems

The world takes its turn away from us at night.
Night is difficult. It hurts. We hide from
its darkness. Drag light toward us, slosh it everywhere.

The window plays mirror, shows us the faces
we make. Beyond our transparent selves,
the yard, the empty street. We send our
vacancy out into the darkened world.
We doubt the things we own. That looks like
our car. Is the gate closed?

Lack of light unites the things swimming in it,
all slumped shapes, all shut doors.
It leaks into closets and under beds,
a bog beneath us, rising.

Children locate creatures here, in the dark,
in the places that promise disappearance.
We knew to fear it even then.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Storage Unit

Storage Unit

You don’t have room for it, or present need.
Twelve place-settings of china, inherited.
A hulking, dusty treadmill, adjustable speed
and incline. A set of golf clubs, their heads

pushing out of the bag like hungry cats.
Your toys. Barbies naked together, piled
on plastic shoes and metallic gowns, flaps
of cardboard folded in on top. Files

crammed in a metal cabinet, not sorted.
Your apartment is small, only one closet,
and no basement. So you pay for public storage,
park the boxed oddities that don’t fit

at home. You visit once or twice a year,
dread the shhhhh of cardboard being slid
on concrete, the horror of spiders nesting here,
the uneasiness rooted in lifting up lids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010



Reaching out over the balcony,
imploringly, a wetsuit.

A discarded shell, doubled over.
Arms unfurled toward street.

Shriveled and flimsy, a flattened
body bent in half, reverent.

A headless silhouette, arms cast
down. Balanced between

the railing and the tugging temptation
of falling, of the ground.

Contracting as it gives up particles
of ocean salt and sand.

The owner will climb inside it
again, and it will stand.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



The English Department crawls through the grass,
the summer softball game stalled.

A professor has lost his wedding ring. The grad
student (an Americanist, Melville,

Hawthorne) lobbed the pitch toward him.
The professor swung, made

contact, stumbled onto first base. We’ll still win,
the girl on first taunted, a third

year Foucauldian. Gathering her hair in one hand,
she slid the band from her wrist

around the hair, secured it against her neck. The man
waited, bending his knees as if to test

that the ground could hold him. It was then that he saw
his ring finger, empty. By sunset,

the Department is still on its knees, staring into the lawn,
consoling, Don’t worry, we’ll find it.

Monday, October 4, 2010



From outside,
a young voice calls out numbers.

The voice
could belong to girl or boy, it is high,

sweet, sexless.
I part the blinds, as if nudging bangs

from an eye,
a brow. A girl, fingers over her face,

counts. Twelve
Mississippi, thirteen Mississippi, fourteen

She wants the hider to hear her, sends

the vocalized
seconds into the yard, the red bougainvillea,

the parked cars
lining the block. Twenty-one, twenty-two

twenty-four. She switches to only numbers

as she becomes
confident in her pacing. She was right

to put the state
inside the seconds. What a struggle it is

to stand in
the territory hidden between moments.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010



The first time she read the book
the ceiling cracked.
In bed, she watched the plaster
above her. The crack
looked longer in the morning.

The second time she read the book
the house creaked
and popped, as if uncrossing its legs.
Her bed shook for
a few minutes, waking her briefly.

The third time she read the book
she turned pages
cautiously. A test. In the morning,
her hair was full
of plaster bits, brittle as broken eggshell.

She left the book on a bench.
But she dreams
of the book, and when she wakes,
her body is covered
in shattered plaster and shards of wood.

Monday, September 27, 2010



Before the train can run, it needs context.
Hills and flat expanses for you to glue
grass onto, hollows for you to fill with resin,
your water. Glue a roadbed, and then the track.
Decide where the train will go, and who will
take this train. How far along are they
in their journey? Suggest the presence
of the people, a town. You can name this place,
paint it on a sign with a fine brush,
stick the sign post into the green once it has adhered.

Now that people live here, you give them
businesses, trades. The post office.
The bakery. Almond-sized loaves of bread
and a flag and flagpole that you sink into
the land like a birthday candle into cake.

Two deer at the edge of one pond.
You dip a toothpick in white paint
and touch it to their eyes so that they leap
into life. A mailman heading west,
his blue satchel heavy with correspondence.
A woman in a red coat and her boy
approaching the bakery.
What joy she must feel when the train passes.
Her son turns his face to her, grinning,
then turns back to watch the train leave.

Thursday, September 23, 2010



Three things in the air at once:
plane, pigeon, fly.

I drove the fly here. It clung
to my windshield,

little fly wings almost ripped
from its body

by the speed, the wind against it.
This red light

was his cue to hop off, his stop.
The pigeon sat

with four other pigeons within
telephone wires,

resting on alternating parallel
lines. Sheet music.

The one pigeon flaps frantically,
as far as I can tell,

uncued, rises over the intersection.
A moment later

the others join in, leave the wires
bare and silent.

The plane is small to me, no bigger
than a bird

and its flight is linear, unhurried.
We all must

move while others watch, us Earthly
passengers, pilots.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Resort First

Last Resort First

The last resort, we try it first.
We pretend all else has failed,
elbow our way into desperation.

Big changes happen faster.
Families leave large homes
for small ones, or for condos.

Cartoons provide a model
for effective decision making.
Shove the broken car off a cliff.

Popular new first date activities?
Elopement and annulment,
and shopping for burial plots.

University enrollment skyrockets
and plummets. Those who have
tasted failure rush to the bakery,

the bar, beg to work the register.
Abandoned houses are bulldozed.
Concrete is poured into the cavern

formerly reserved for the new
subway line. Long before that
beachfront commune opened

and citizens of Detroit fled to
Canada, as refugees, we forgot
that our panic had been pretend.

Monday, September 20, 2010



In one section of the woods, the trees began to burn
with messages. The townspeople took it for fire,
at first, but when the little Thornton girl grabbed for the light
and pulled her hand out, unscathed, they knew
that this light didn’t consume what it touched.

It was decided that this was an Oracle. After all,
the light flashed enormous letters through the trees,
one after another, as if sprung from an invisible giant’s hand.
In shifts, the townspeople gathered near the Oracle,
transcribing the letters as they came onto a computer.

The Oracle was undaunted by weather. Through rain,
letters blazed, and snow stuck to light for only an instant
before vanishing. And though they kept recording the letters,
making sense of the Oracle’s words was problematic.
They could not agree on where to break the light into words.

Sometimes the Oracle shone characters they had never
seen. Others, the transcribers disagreed on the letter.
There were discrepancies among the texts, and after a number
of townspeople complained of headaches and blurred vision,
it was determined that prolonged exposure to the Oracle

damaged eyesight, who knew how permanently.
They kept coming to stare at the Oracle, but stopped
putting its letters into a computer. A woman packed up the equipment,
and a man watched her, her face translucent and lineless
in the glow. Janie Thornton, will you marry me? he asked.

More and more frequently, the letters don’t belong
to our alphabet. Or any on record. The light never
flickers, never goes out. The townspeople visit the radiance in the woods,
and the older ones can’t shake the habit of staring
into the light, waiting for a word that they’ll know.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Intercom On

The Intercom On

You left the intercom on.
When you left, you left it on.

Intermittently, it transmits
bits of movement: a mouse’s

whispered click, windchimes.
Pages turning and rubbing against

other pages. Maybe it’s my
intercom, acting up, picking up

little noises, echoes. Static.
Inner intercoms do not have an off.

The switch can be flicked,
but is only a reminder to listen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last to Leave

Last to Leave

The last to leave stands at the door,
facing in, finger resting on the light switch.
Before stemming the flow of light, he gazes
across the room. He feels such fondness
for this place. His computer, his colleagues’
computers, are tucked into themselves,
sleeping hens. The black netted chairs
have been parked neatly beneath the desks.
The end-of-day tidying undoes the work
of the day. The phone, the keyboard,
the chairs--who knows the last time
they were touched. Satisfied, he presses
the switch. He pulls the knob in leaving,
joins the door with the wall it was cut from.
This flock is his. He welcomes locking up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Visible Zipper

The Visible Zipper

The visible zipper:
miniature train tracks
announcing where
the dress closes,
skinny steel vertebrae
stacked to the neck.

The garment’s work
exposed, a process
accentuated. A seam
meant to be seen.

Decorative, useful,
easily cajoled up or
down. The fence
between fabric and
flesh. Concealment
regularly undone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010



We are on the seventh floor of our buildings,
across the street from one another.

I see you every day, shoes off, heavily leaning
onto an elbow, hunched over the phone

protectively. Below your office, a health club,
a pool. Early in the day, women

in black suits slip in and out of the teal water,
their hair or caps glossy as sealskin.

To the left, the treadmills, four across. Upper
torsos, pumping arms, horses anxious

in their stalls. Is it nearness or privacy we crave,
neighbor? I watch you, and fill in your

silence: the copy machine spitting out sheets
behind you, the clink of her hand

on the metal ladder as she pulls her body from
the pool, the phone bleating

until you to touch it. Answer it so that a voice
might fill your ear. Answer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Once More With Feeling

Once More With Feeling

Once more with feeling,
and then again, without.

Startle the pigeons.

Try it low and flat,
so absent of panic that
I am alarmed.

Lose the triumphantly raised fist,
but sure, give me your hands
upturned, reaching,
wrapped around my throat,
my pulse on your wrists.

With gusto, with force,
the way you would eat alone, in the evening,
after not eating all day.

And again,
haltingly, as if struggling
with pronunciation or legibility.

Kick aside the podium
to show me how much you love me,
and stub the microphone out
like a cigarette.

Ask a question you do not expect anyone to answer,
and wait, patiently
until someone speaks,
most likely me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Use the House Against Itself

Use the House Against Itself

Smash the dishes in their shelves.
Take a shovel to the oven, the windows.
Rifle glasses at the ceiling. Rip handfuls

of blinds from the wall. Fling forks
into the walls like darts, and hang
from the blades of the fan until

they snap off. Use the house against
itself, level the place. Unbury every
covered thing, even the mud

beneath the floorboards. Pull the bricks
from the wall to see how they land.
Wreck the house. Rebuild it into rubble.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Cutest Thing I Have Ever Seen

The Cutest Thing I Have Ever Seen

A cute thing begs hyperbole,
rhetorical questions:
aren’t you just the cutest...

It is little, an it, a thing, small
and low to the ground.
We bend to it, make ourselves

smaller, and squeal in baby voice.
Speech gets tiny and high
to match what is cute, a dialect

of cooing and mock surprise.
We widen our eyes at
the helpless little creature,

it is so small, after all, and
all alone in the big bad
world, weak and can get

picked up by any pair of hands.
In the presence of what
is so cute that we cannot stand it,

we want to eat this thing up,
to protect it by eating it,
hiding it from any pain.

Thursday, September 2, 2010



Cork is talented with holes
because it is inlaid with them.

Cork can close them up,
can crawl into a bottle’s mouth

and silence the wine
in its throat and belly. Cork

welcomes the nail and pin.
It is good at getting pierced,

at gripping the sharp edge
back. Similarly, we are gifted

in loss. Experiences fall
from us as they happen, baby

teeth, jettisoned potential.
People leave, get shipped off

to other dimensions. Even
memories go away, burn out

like stars. Let us learn from
cork, from our talent for having

things taken away, our
adoration of the irretrievable.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In Broad Daylight

In Broad Daylight

In the light, in the fat-tipped fingers
of light flung on earth. Easily seen

by the naked eye, readily identified.
Acts on display, splayed under the sun.

In public, available equally to passers by
and nearly-imperceptible lifters of drapes.

Wide light, amoral, indiscriminate.
A climate best suited to pleasantries

or exhibitionists. Well-lit, unflinching,
the conditions that promote noticing,

awareness. A sequence of events
rendered undeniable, plain as day,

true. An occurrence to be viewed,
witnessed. The authority of surface.

Monday, August 30, 2010



Summer sleep demands a fan.
We purchase them collectively.
Within a week of the heat,
the fans in the town have all
been sold, lugged home.

The heat is a disease to fight.
We are subject to it. Evenings,
fans get dragged into bedrooms.
We tilt their faces toward us,
push a button, and savor

their cool breath easily washing
over us, each of us alone
behind our eyes. Months go by.
The fan still stands at our bedside,
shushing the scuttle of night noises.

Friday, August 27, 2010



A truck is loaded with grain,
filled with this dust that will
build the foods our nation’s meals
are structured around. Like many
crops that we hack from boundless
grasses into specks, it is uncountable.
One crumb, a big rig’s freight,
both grain. The market responds
when we call it whole, slice less
of it away from itself. I can’t fault
us our hunger for what is whole,
what is wholesome. We grow grain,
tear it, grind it up, and feed our bodies
with it. We construct our food pyramid
on top of it, are told to eat six to eleven
servings of it. Ancient civilizations
would rightly call this worship.
And why shouldn’t we identify this
practice as sacred: fill a big rig
with cut grain, and send it shuttling
down black roads that cut through
fields of tall, nodding stalks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



Some bodies never get opened,
require no surgery.

Nonetheless, we trust that humans
are equipped with matching

machinery. In every attic,
a brain, and downstairs,

two lungs, a liver, a stomach,
intestines spooled up

like a garden hose. Same make,
slightly varying models.

This collective trust pumps through
cities and villages, governs

survival. When the traffic stops
because the stoplight

burns red, and the glowing white
man blinks above

the street, we walk without fear.
The driver puts a foot

onto the brake, agreeing to not
run any pedestrian over.

Because we were made according to
rules, we continue to

make them so that we might feel at home,
these old family recipes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Most of what enters us is not visible.
What if there were a tracking device for it,

a dye, a dust. Like the powder that clings
to surfaces that fingers have pressed against.

That is some detective’s job: to manufacture
the moment of contact, to prove who has

touched what. If you could toss this visibility
powder onto me, what impressions and streaks

would materialize. An infection snaking up
to my ear, or a sooty veil of doubt shrouding

my face. An exit wound in my back, just
below the heart. An iridescent film along

my whole body, indicative of experience
nestling into memory. What would we be

tracking. Would shapes and shadows pulled
from the air show what looms above.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stones and then Breadcrumbs

Stones and then Breadcrumbs

Because you mean to return,
you mark your movements by dropping stones.
Pebbles tumble from your twisted grip
like baby teeth from gums.

Someone creeps along behind you,
pocketing the rocks.
The way you came has been erased.

You try it again,
shredding bread as if to denature it into grain,
scattering that.

Later, you search the leaves
for any message, how did you come here?
Did you flatten any foliage
by stepping on it,
or does the world simply fill back in
any dents, any record of your displacement?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good Grief

Good Grief

Obsolescence is the leading product of our national infatuation with technology, and I now believe that obsolescence is not a darkness but a beauty.
-Jonathan Franzen, “Scavenging”

Scientists flip up a fern deep in the forest. Beneath
it is a yellow frog, the likes of which we have never seen.

Over the next month, thousands of dead yellow frogs
stiffen on the ground, dead just as we learn of them.

Species disappear every day. The same velocity
is invoked in the illustration of crashing anvils.

Whoosh, thud. The departures hang around
above us like smog. Grief is thick and sticky.

The jungle of loss is not all translucent blowfish
and tree frogs. People fall. We’re hoarse from

calling out Timber! to warn one another.
With every individual, an ability is extinguished.

One day, the last woman to never have a cell phone
will die. The final speaker of an exquisite dialect.

Information dies this way. No more phonograph needle
replacement experts or cassette thread weavers.

Recipes for cold soups will go, and some large truth
will be revealed as pseudoscience. The nature

of all interplanetary substance: things go away.
We wave, and soon forget what our hand is doing.

Monday, August 16, 2010



Fires singe your lashes and arm hair.
The pigment beneath your scalp flees.
Names bubble from you, unsummoned.

Your spine buckles, a tendon snaps.
Seismic disturbances lurk in this mud,
in our anatomy. Sure, we own the land

we live on, the body that we pilot out
into the potholed terrain of time.
Cells halve and double. Blades slice skin,

blood surging out like a choir, like oil.
Almost none of experience needs
your consent. Wrestle that to the floor

and clutch it against your chest, and
remember our planet, how no one asked
it if the moon could latch on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Dress

One Dress
A Myth

When a girl is born,
layers of her soul are stripped off
and sent into the atmosphere.

The lady-shaped shadows
flutter out into tailors’ workshops
and textile factories, into

closets and shops
where garments dangle, bodiless
skins. Like dress patterns,

the cross-sections of soul
crinkle as they meet fabric, pressing
themselves into being.

There comes a time
in a girl’s life when a gown is needed.
She will be married,

or will attend a grand
dance or party. There is only one dress
for her, and it waits

for her to select it, to
occupy its fabric as muscles stretch flesh.
If she chooses the right

dress, that one dress
lined with her soul, she will know it
by her anatomy’s instant

and perfect alignment.
She will know that she has been formed
in order to fill it out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Better Feed the Ghost

Better Feed the Ghost

We feed the ghosts
as if they were strays, other
people’s pets. Daily
we call them into the yard,

affixing the idea of them
to habits. Better feed the ghost:
we never need the reminder,
so fully are they incorporated

into how we hear thoughts.
We feel responsible
for ghosts; we didn’t make them,
but they were bestowed

upon us. They feel familiar.
Some are made of helium.
Others are made of paper, pine
needles, plywood, iron.

A ghost’s weight fluctuates
based on what you plate for it.
Just keep on feeding it,
and you will never be alone.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Every City

Every City

The top floor
is vacant, has been cleared, lobotomized,
yet windows freckle the brick near the roof.

Most are blank,
have been boarded up from the inside
but are too high to correct through removal.

Squared glass sprawls
across brick, a clothesline constellation,
a kinked garland. This whole building bears

correction from having
twice been toppled, brighter brick slicing into
rustier stone, scythes, shark fins, sails.

Forward flight, resistance,
every city rises of it. Tenants settle around what
exists, barnacular. There have been witnesses.

Friday, July 30, 2010



Where would we search for the impulse.
In the pulse, the solar plexus, the temples.
In the inner itch of fingers reaching for
a pen, or other fingers. Abruptly.
How does it happen, without warning,
unexpectedly. Out of nowhere, from
where do you derive this inspiration.
You find your mouth moving,
words rushing out, winged. An impulse
enters, instantly materializing.
Has it always been there, implanted
at the molecular level and waiting
to detonate, all of a sudden.

Thursday, July 29, 2010



I know you,
I want to know you.

I recognize you,
your mannerisms comfort

me. We must already
know one another, for I

expect the skin
on your face to behave

as it does, your
vocal cords to resonate

like they do,
as cables stretched by

an elevator’s
weight. See how we are

each other’s
authors. As choreographers

create on a dancer,
I observe your musculature

and movement
to show you what I see in you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That’s No Moon

That’s No Moon

That’s no moon, that’s a
searchlight, beckoning superheroes,
criminals. That’s no earthquake,
that’s a helicopter grabbing hold
of the windowpanes, rattling them
as you would a collar, transferring
urgency from fist to fabric.

That’s no ditch, it’s a hole
set in the lawn like a dark gem.
That's no dog. I don't know
what kind of creature that is
shaking the evergreen's petticoat.

Normally, it's not this tough
figuring out what is what.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Iced Water

Iced Water

Water cradles ice,
expertly carries this other phase
of itself.

All the while,
water softens the cubes’ surfaces,

ice, coaxing it
to release, to be integrated within
the liquid.

So elegantly water
has been designed, infused with
so much give.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Off Days

Off Days

Days when something is off,
not as in switch not flipped up
but off a track, a spine misaligned
or stuck zipper with fabric shoved
down its throat. Or maybe as in
a sick day, an appointment cancelled
by your better self, unable to perform
the customary whatever. You are cautious
on your off day, creeping up to examine
your own moves and motives. Better to
hang back, wary, a dog sniffing at a stranger.

Thursday, July 22, 2010



The wings we make
make use of this basic rule:
Flight depends on tension.

To harness force from air
we need a thing for wind
to rush against. Flight

is filtered. We fashion
a kite, a sail, a parachute
to be freed from the body.

We keep hoping our skin
will turn aerodynamic,
will lift us up as would wires.

It won't, so we charge into
one another, cold and warm
fronts meeting, making storms.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You’re Like Me In That Way

You're Like Me In That Way

A grappling hook of comparison
or an even trade, an emulsion.

You’re like me in that way,
you and I are the same.

Two reliefs: in reflection
or reduction.

Bowling ball rolling,
capsized pins.

What are you like,
what are you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Storialist Turns Two

The Storialist turns two today (never fear--there will be no tantrums!).

I am so happy to celebrate two years of writing every weekday, of challenging my process, and of connecting with artists, writers, and readers.

Thank you to everyone who has paused here to read my words; I write for you.

Onward! Shall we?

Monday, July 19, 2010

By Now it Should Be Obvious

By Now it Should Be Obvious

By now it should be obvious
that appliances want a firm hand,
that we are used handling them

with roughness and a small amount
of irritation. I rev the blender
like a motorcycle’s engine, punch

the highest setting on the fan every night.
The blow dryer expels its hot breath
whenever I demand that it does.

They are compliant, our appliances,
so useful. And with every use
we push them towards death.

Friday, July 16, 2010



Full of forgetting,
for getting unfull

not through emptying,

and dump, not that
heaviness at all.

Where does it go.
What is forgotten

is never fully gone,
not a true departure

or evaporation.
Every last thing

you have forgotten
is present, has just

ducked under or
slipped behind,

integrated itself in
you as water sipped

from a glass and
then topped off.

Thursday, July 15, 2010



On the pillow, while transitioning our bodies
into sleep via immobility, we must confront
the ceiling, the seams and streaks of paint
suddenly noticeable as the edges of an ace bandage.

If you were a baby, and your bed a crib,
this would be the spot for a mobile, for stars
or clouds to be strung up, suspended
in slow orbit and bringing the galaxy in from outside.

This trains us to accept stillness and staring
as conditions that allow for sleep, to know
that in falling asleep we are falling into ourselves,
that each of us is a universe, ceilinged and spinning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What a Camera Means to a Person’s Life

What a Camera Means to a Person’s Life

You can remember less during,
less of the ocean’s hem
settling onto sand, the edge
of a sheet easing itself over the curve
of a bed. In a way, this frees you,
raises your finger from the record button.

The camera has done that,
stuck its head beneath your hand and lifted,
as one might lift a record player’s arm
to stop the sound.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Once Bitten

Once Bitten

As a garden hose cranked shut will still hold
water in its tract, spilling in retraction

As a car clangs and clicks, clock-like, for minutes
after the key is unplugged

Like the memories buried in skin, the burns,
the expansions, the wind

As pillows and mattresses remain depressed
when the sleeper climbs off of them

Like the mouth choosing one corner in which to chew,
away from the tooth already removed

The look toward the open door, watching that
a childhood cat does not squeeze past

The breath you blow over any spooned food
to cool what once seared your tongue

Certain dates illuminated eternally, the reason
for their glowing lost or evaporated

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where Everybody Is

Where Everybody Is

Locatable by description.
Married. Housed. Apartmented.
Working in real estate,
in insurance.
In medicine. In the movies.

Pulled closer by the lapels,
the collar, the belt loops.
With babies. With a dog.
With his band,
with their church.

Inevitably involved. In school.
In Kentucky, in Brooklyn,
in his parents’ house.
In the hospital.
In Sydney, Australia.

Navigational devices.
Happier than she has ever been.
Voice just as sharp.
Softer in the body.
Teeth straightened, glistening.

Hold still.
The company you own,
the restaurant you might buy.
Whose couch you will sleep on,
whose brother you saw.

Your coordinates, trajectory.
The next time we speak,
we will say it again:
how good it is to catch up,
to finally catch up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Thing for Bags and Shoes

A Thing for Bags and Shoes

A thing, an emotion made into an object
that women have: She has a thing for bags
and shoes. You have known her, or have been her.

An affliction, a desire. It quickens the pulse
of this woman to feel inside the bag, the soles
yet untouched by toes. She lets the leather melt

around her foot or hand, watches her satisfaction
in the mirror. This thing fluttering in her blood
is a safe, strange lust. Pleasure will surely surge

within her during the purchase, as she envelops
her extremities in whatever she pleases,
positions the world at her feet, her fingertips.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Heart Goes Out to You

My Heart Goes Out to You

My heart goes out to you,
this, whispered in corridors,
before drape-shielded windows.

My two hands around yours,
as if gripping a golf club.
Strength and firmness,

I transmit them to you.
Borrow from me, take
all that I am happy to give:

my heart goes out to you,
it exits my body and
beelines toward you.

As knuckles rap a door.
As an eye from the inside
meets the peephole to peer out.

This heart, my own, it lunges
for the ache in yours. If only
you could hand it over.

Monday, July 5, 2010



In old cartoons, the hobo shoulders a sagging,
spotted bundle knotted on a stick. A heavy balloon.
His sadness is clownish. We draw a frown around
his mouth, pencil tears on his cheeks and nudge him
alongside the railroad tracks. The bindle rests
its curved cheek on his back, a sleeping child.
Each day, we hurl ourselves into the unmade.
As we move, we make. We parcel the brightest
and sharpest pieces, keep them hoisted, held.

Friday, July 2, 2010



Gravity, planted. Anchors.
Grappling hooks submerged

in sand or soil, craggy cliffside
or spongy bank. Or even in air,

roots can reach up in air from
water, periscopes not seeking

to see, just keeping the plant
in place, alive. There is a hunger

in roots, a need. They climb down,
branch out, build for the plant

pipes, a stairwell, a basement.
These roots, in the business of

transportation, outreach, intake,
find their work keeps them grounded.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


A List

People who have seen you naked.

People who know your face, but not your name.

Those connected to your tangible body,
but with little knowledge of your life.
They alter your skirts, know the shape of
your waist, the distance between your hip
and the floor. They trim your bangs every month,
know the weight of your hair, how it falls.
Those who have put holes in you,
adorned with metal.

People who immediately place you
under stress by their authority. Driving instructors,
the cop knocking on your window,
the immigration officer.

Those who dream of you,
with or without intensity.

Neighbors who were granted access
into your habits, your reactions.

People who have photographs
with you in the background,
as scenery.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Friction Lesson

Friction Lesson

Tell me what happened,
the way you, a boy,
convinced another boy to kiss you
on his sofa after school.

Tell me how you persuaded him
wordlessly, one hand in the crease
of the sofa’s yielding cushions,
the other just above his knee,
your fingers brushing corduroy the wrong way.

Friday, June 25, 2010


A Disambiguation

A joint share, split fairly.
Equally balanced, equal.

Level. Without disturbance.

Continuance, the seesaw
of time stretched horizontally, reaching.

Leaving no debt, nothing
owed from either sides.

Numbers divisible by two,
neatly paired,

pared. Perfectly expressible,
able to be captured exactly, without fragments

or remainders. Free from
fluctuation; consistent.

Fully, wholly, overflowing,
stressing the truth

of a thing. Emphasizing
how all events in the present are synchronized.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



Dogs dead for nineteen
years guard our email; wrought

iron gates of husbands
and wives and children swing

open to reveal the balance
in the checking account to you only,

once you’ve spoken of them.
Numbers figure in, too. Birthdays

climb onto mothers’
maiden names, signifiers for athletes

follow types of instruments
we adore but have never mastered.

Our passwords mine
the memory, scanning for entities

that affect us so intensely
we wish to write their names again

and again. We call on them
for protection and write them back

into the terrestrial script
of currency and correspondence.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



This piece is old,
from olden times old.
The King of Japan,
Emperor, we’ll call him,
used it to wash his lover’s
hair. This stamp on the base,
this gold character shaped
like a broken doorway,
tells us it was manufactured
in colonial times. It was
carried by horse-drawn
carriage at some point,
can’t you see the crack.
Only a fall from a horse
would create such a crack.
Or extreme thermal variance,
not the heat so much as
the humidity. The other clue
is the blue of the glaze,
quite sheer at the rim
and richer in the hollows.
Only seven factories in
this galaxy can produce
this hue, all of them near
a volcano. Most of them.
But the crack,
the glaze has pooled
in it here, indicating
it broke during the firing
process, you know,
in the kiln, silent-n,
the kill, if you will.
I am suspicious of
this faint fingerprint
here, quite suspicious
actually. This print
belongs to a lady,
you can tell by how
graceful and vulnerable
the arch is. I can tell
you this: you must insure
this piece for seven
times what it would fetch
at auction, and I would bid
should I see it, and would you
consider selling it to me now
or photographing it
from several angles?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Is Is All We Got

What Is Is All We Got

What is is all we got,
would you agree?
What we call beautiful

isn’t beautiful at all.
We are prevented
from watching it

by a layer, we are
snagged by its looks.
The only way

to accept this ordinary
horror is to see
how effervescent it is,

all of experience
bubbling forth.
Eliminate the observer,

dump the eye. Why?
Let’s not argue,
this is true, it is good.

If something appears,
don’t think, don’t even
watch, don’t act.

Witness this: you are
not the observer,
you’re the observed, ok?

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Did I Buy

What Did I Buy

Because a rock got bored, dislodged itself from a planet
and landed here.
Which made a molecule launch into flight like a bee, frantic,
slamming into another molecule.
This puddle, this hive rippled with energy and doubled,
tripled, kept replicating.
Flagella and gills. Tails. Water, heat, ice.
Thumbs. The collapse underpinning everything,
the tendency of stuff to break off and shed,
go dropped-marionette,
leave pieces and imprints.
Because every lull is interrupted with dust,
this is why I have bought a broom.
Every purchase is a solution, a small one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010



These boys are playing at making trouble.
They board the bus from the back doors,
clamber up the step clutching skateboards.
Shoulders, feet, knees: all of these parts
test solidity. Jam a piece of the body into
stuff, a cushioned seat, the plexiglass back
door, and watch how it is disrupted. The boys
want us to watch them assess the bus, the rules
as flimsy. They ride to the beach, unsupervised
by adults, toss curse words over the heads
of passengers, rocks thrown low over water.
Shit, you see that girl, she was so damn hot,
the smaller one says. I don’t give a shit, dude,
the other, bangs flung out of his eyes, jerking
his head up, leading with the jaw. KIDS.
The driver glares in the rear view mirror
barks, Don’t you be doing that on my bus.
The boys pout, chests puffed out. The smaller one
scratches at the plastic seat beneath him
with a key, scribbling as if it were a crayon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010



Two swapped letters, and a new creature
tumbles into this realm. Most often, it is a child
gifted in deletion, in destruction. For example,
exmaple. Former tree, no longer sugary or bearing
pointed leaves. When we want unite, the fingers
can slip, stumble over sounds that untie. Language
wobbles from us, unstable. It can conjure, can build,
and destroy. Destory the sounds in your mouth,
unclasp letters. Take it in, hear the uncomfortable
inversion. Like thunder that unclaps, there is space
filled by reassigned sound. Do you know what I mean,
how the surety of bolt wants to leap up into blot,
metal traded for tissue, locked down into soak up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Note on the Type

A Note on the Type

This page has been set in the typeface
Bodoni, named after the noted printer
Giambattista Bodoni of Parma (1740-1813).

Do something with this information,
with these dates (larger minus smaller).

Imagine a man in an apron with stained hands.
The Bodoni types of today are not faithful,
not true Bodoni, but composites capturing

the manner of the type style. He was known
for accentuating contrast in letter elements,

skinny hairlines ballooning into thick stems.
Seventy-three years he lived, inflating and
deflating letters, playing baker, glassblower.

What shavings are left after playing with type,
whittling, carving serifs like balustrades.

Grandeur for Giambattista, accentuator of
variance, sleeves rolled to the elbow.
And here he is, on the last page of a book,

cramming power into the outlines of letters
as lifetimes are shoved into parentheses.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Everything is Ready

Everything is Ready

Come, everything is ready.
Strangers smile as if they know you today.
Plants pour out their fragrance
as you pass.

Come quickly, everything is ready.
The street is cleared that you might park
parallel to your door.
Graffiti has sprung up on each dull sign,
flowering vines drawn in shades of your choosing.

Envelopes have been licked and pressed down
so you can pry the fibers apart with your finger.
The traffic lights have new bulbs,
greenest, yellowest, reddest.

Everything is ready, come now,
have a look at the asphalt that has been unrolled
to carpet the raw dirt.
Look how the buildings don’t collapse,
how well-behaved they are in your presence.

This is it, electricity exists,
and molecules harden and get cold when they slow down.
Everything is ready, your feet work
and there are beds, there are people who know your name
and will be repeating it when you are not here.
We are ready when you are.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why They Climbed

Why They Climbed

To inhale the fragile atmosphere into their systems,
to feel it slithering, coiling

To force an ache into muscles accustomed to sitting

To cling to an unbreathing enormity

To savor the loneliness in touching
rock no hand has yet touched

To love so staggeringly a tower of indifference

To look out at the smallness of a great city
and think that you have found it, founded it

To face your own resistance to descending

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Idea Takes Up Residence

An Idea Takes Up Residence

An idea takes up residence
slowly, is moved in in pieces,
gradually, a candy dish,
a brandy snifter, a decanter.

Inside, it grows. You use it
to hold things, so it stretches.
Now it is an ottoman,
a rocking chair, a chaise.

It will hold you. You discover
this one day when you give
your weight to it. Have you,
in the seconds before sleep,

sunken into dream furnishings,
and jerked awake when your
body did not find the resistance
it expected? Here you are

testing the invented furnishings.
You will need the space
eventually, so the heaviest thing
goes. It is an effort to move

it out, a dresser with innumerable
drawers. When it goes, there
is an outline embedded in its place,
some nicks, some scratches.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Sticks

More Sticks

It seems reassuring
that those of us in certain industries
will always have work.

Hair will continue
to seep from the scalp, will need
to be scissored, to be taken.

In fact, after death
if our bodies remain whole then
the strands keep seeping,

growing in the ground
like the skinny roots of a plant.
Landscapists, too, have

an enviable occupation.
They ease the weed from the choke hold
it has on soil, pull away

dry or decaying leaves,
clear the sticks that have collected.
The landscapist’s lack

of sadness in bundling
debris at the close of the work day
soothes, On land,

there is no shortage
of things needing to be looked after,
requiring careful paring.

There are bulbs to be
planted. There are always more sticks
to round up and carry away.

Monday, June 7, 2010



Like resurrected pterodactyls rising from tar,
the birds emerge, dragging sludge-sodden wings.

Behind them, a new set of tracks: triangular valleys
flanked by grooves, like the marks left by skis.

Too heavy to be raised, these wingtips rake across
sand. The birds stumble under the mass placed

onto them, a brown-black cloak, a leaden veil.
It was not our intention to suffocate these birds

with their own bodies. We are so very sorry.
We offer what we can, money, soap emblazoned

with the image of a dove, a steady, gloved palm.
Explosion, detonation, flame, death--we understand

these things. Finite. Spill, too, implies a completed
action, finished, accidental. Infuriated, aching

we watch what we made and keep making,
an unnatural disaster in progress. It is undoable,

it is still happening. What trawls the soul about
this spill, that horrible monster down there:

it is an alien we trapped, a dinosaur that we awoke,
a dark beast we tried to harness. We called out to it.

***Click here to visit the National Wildlife Federation's site. If you haven't already, please consider making a donation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Timing is Everything, Nearly

Timing is Everything, Nearly

When to
make a thing
of an idea,
to manifest
what your
mind has
until now
only murmured.

When to

When to
trust the
of ice
to hold
you, when
to give your
and when to

When to
the four
of diamonds,
the duplicate
of the card
the girl
had chosen.

When to
in order
to notice.

When to
sew your life
to another

When to
for effect.

When to
go to
the doctor,
a cough
in your

to rush.

When to
drive home,
and when
to wait
for the sky
to empty itself.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Willing

The Willing

The willing are more easily hypnotized, minds sunken and lifted
as an orchestra obeys the conductor.

More easily they move. Come over there? Yes we will, the willing
agree, we are halfway there already.

Healing is swifter, wounds closing, zipped up. More information
is absorbed by the willing as they listen,

more awareness of silence. The willing have inertia stored inside
of them, have more flexible bodies,

more elastic thought processes. Fluidly go the willing, their inner
compasses wired to accelerators,

consciousnesses agreeing with experience in real time. The willing
will be there, waiting for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Trains

To Trains

To trains, there is no time, only stops and people.
All trains know is what happens aboard them,
around them. Instead of weather, passengers,
how many, what type. The first dark suits
that will return later, quieter. The uniformed children
pushing, laughing, hunched under bags strapped
to their backs. The old women, folded scarves
and bags of bread. The next stop, and the next,
fifty-five on, twenty off. No anticipation of the end
of the line, and still it arrives. Deep patience,
no fatigue. To trains, passengers communicate
by not speaking, except in spurts. Passengers
let their eyes crawl up and around the insides
of the trains. Or they hold books and sheets
of grey newspaper beneath their faces, close
to their bodies. The next stop, seventeen off and
one hundred and four on, compressed within
the car. Observing the behavior of humans
is a hobby, to trains. The way they try to get small
in themselves, breathing lightly to preserve
their tightly-packaged forms. The tension
in their jaws and shoulders, and then the way
their faces open at reaching their stop. Thirty on,
none off. The words mothers murmur to
crying babies, shh, almost there, almost there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Which way to begin a day,
the order of operations. Whether
you are hungry. The temperature
of the water you cause to course
over you, the level of gentleness with yourself
as you step from the shower and bring the towel
to your skin.

Whether you will leave the house
or stay in. Whether you think of all
you will accomplish in this day,
or spend the day released from any obligation.

Which people to speak with, whether
to phone them or find them
so that you might look into their faces
as you speak. Which words to use
as you compose an email,
how to end it, with Yours or Best or Cheers.
With what punctuation.

Whether you will be cognizant of time,
touching your phone to revive its black screen
into bright mindfulness, or if you will let
the hours flow uncounted.

Which bread to eat, and how much of it.
Which ingredients you require more of,
and how you will obtain them.

Whether you will walk down the busy block
or the quiet one. Which person walking their dog
will you smile at, which person will you avoid.

Which answer you select when asked what you do
for a living, which crosswalks you will run across
and which you will plod into.

Whether you look at your reflection as you pass it
in the store windows, whether you look at the people
inside of the stores. Whether you open yourself
to the evening or choose a task to busy yourself with.

Which level of fatigue or routine prompts you to bed,
and which pictures and sounds you draw, like transparent
curtains, over the light of your mind as it dims.

Monday, May 31, 2010



What clue does the body’s symmetry provide,
a seam up the middle, from which each side

reaches.We pull away from our centers, hands
out like wingtips. Evolution’s alluvial fan

has made of us this shape: bivalves pried
open, along nose, chin, navel, groin, thighs,

knees, ankles. On top of our skulls, strands
of hair pull away from a part, light bands

of scalp shining like scars. This split implies
hinges in the core. Buried somewhere inside

the butterfly of your anatomy, a spring expands
and contracts, vibrating like a struck grand

piano’s strings. This weird resonance resides
in you. You have tapped into it, sometime,

felt a tethered energy you didn’t understand.
As thick stems anchor the vascular span

in leaves, or the whisker-thin, firm spine
of a feather branches into a network of lines,

so do our cores hold a force that demands
flight, while we (two-legged, seamed) stand.

Friday, May 28, 2010



Butterfly that has been erased,
its very name a blown-out flame.

Tiny ashen planets inhabiting porches,
doorways, halls, the grounds where

we embark and return. While
other beings sleep, the moths fly.

Pale thing that floats and clings
to lamps, flight shortened, tethered.

To the moth, a light bulb is a moon,
undiminishingly luminous.

When you next reenter your home
in the evening, moths clustered round

the light bulb like a living chandelier,
tell me that the glow rushing over

your porch isn’t lunar. That the white
bulb affixed above your door is not

a personal moon, this version bright,
just smaller, smoother than the other.

Thursday, May 27, 2010



Fish spread on ice like an arc of dealt cards,
the seafood cases at the grocery store
make nightmarish aquariums. Stopped bodies
on frozen water. The silvery skin bounces back
all kinds of light. Fish is what they are called
when swimming, and when scooped from rivers.
Their own name, fish, is also the action by which
they are undone. To fish, to bring what cuts
through the water out into the hot noisy air.
It must feel interplanetary, getting fished out,
yanked from your world into another one.
They are born for this, someone once told me,
in a voice warmed through with reassurance.
It is easier to think of this way, death. As less
of an interruption, a yanking. Put purpose
into their fate, unavoidable verblessness.
Every moment has brought them here.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.