Friday, July 24, 2015

Nashville Witches

Despite the signs everywhere admonishing travelers
not to leave their bags unattended, and to report
any suspicious items to the nearest security agent,
two unclaimed suitcases have been circling alone
on the Gate E6 carousel for fifteen minutes.
They finally topple off, seemingly of their own accord,
and each slowly unzips itself, releasing two slender women
who carefully step from the bags and kick them away
like split chrysalises. They stretch their necks
and smooth out their dresses
and comb the crumbs from their hair with their fingers.
They step barefoot across the carpet
and through the automatic doors,
passing the line of taxis and crossing the parking lot
to flop down in the dry grass beside the runway.
When they close their eyes the air begins to stir
as the scattered pieces of all the birds
ever reduced to pulp
by the deadly inhalation of the jet engines
drag themselves toward one another,
stitching themselves back into the semblance
of winged creatures, patchworks of splintered bone
and knotted entrails and broken feathers,
tens of thousands of them flapping clumsily
above the tarmac, circling the tower
where the air traffic controllers look out in horror.
The eyes of both women snap open
and they leap to their feet and dance across the fields
toward the town, toes barely touching the ground,
accompanied by the ragged music of the flock
as its claws pluck the electrical lines
like bloodied fingers strumming a steel guitar. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yu Ling Duck

When I splashed past the equator, that crease
running halfway across the red and white
checkered tablecloth that covered the globe
I ripped off my water wings, hurling them to
be ensnare the carp-finned dragons that twisted
across the carpet. I let myself sink into the thick
sticky pond of crimson tar, my bubbles remaining
unnoticed by the waitress in her cheap porcelain
Noh mask, unnoticed by the mother scolding
her daughter for dipping the tip of her ponytail
in the duck sauce, unnoticed by the walleyed girl
and her date in the Led Zeppelin t-shirt who sit
eyes glued to their phones, not saying a word
to each other until their six hundred pounds
of shrimp and chicken arrive, loaded with a crane
from the barge that has been towed
by a sluggish tug from the kitchen.
By the time they fish me out, I'll be nothing but bones
in the bottom of a white take-out box,
a scarlet pagoda stamped across my grave.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Knife River

On my way to work, as I step across the tightrope
of the bridge,  below me on the freeway
passes a cement mixer with the words Knife River
slowly spinning along its barrel.
The pavement bakes, the windshields flash.
Gleaming silver fishes rush past in the current.
The sluggish whirlpool turns. Shining scalpels
of sunlight slice through the chain link fence.
I'm caught in a net of shadows, waiting to be hauled
onto the deck where I will flop until my breath is spent.
My head drops; the last thing I see, scratched in the concrete
with a stick or finger, long ago when it was wet,
two names, the only barrier between them
the whetted harpoon head of a heart.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Joseph Merrick in the Galapagos

A herd of tiny elephants stampeded
across Claude's formerly forked tongue
grazing his molars with their tusks when
he went back to revisit the old neighborhood
where he used to play hopscotch and handball.
He tried to forget but it all came groveling back.
The air smelled like Chinese leftovers
that had been sitting in the car all afternoon.
Traffic lights plummeted like icicles
for blocks around. Just like the old days.
Claude clomped along the cold, dusty streets,
swaddled and shapeless in crocheted
mummy wrappings, dripping mucus,
like Joseph Merrick in the Galapagos
trying to whistle like the finches, nodding off
against the back of a tortoise
knocking his skull on a rock when it walks away
then pretending to still be asleep to save face
Claude's ersatz snores echo through the streets
waking up a population doing their damnedest
not to fucking evolve

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Stone in a Puddle on an Island in a Lake on a Continent in a Vast Hungry Sea

I am the seemingly tireless tide
dragging itself at last away from the shore
to withdraw into the shifting bulk of myself,
having once and for all decided
that I no longer have any interest
in merging with the land.
I harbor no desire to be one with a body
that, given a chance, would merely absorb me.

I am a heaving, pulsing mass
with no need for the shore's illusion of stability.
After all these years I have wearied of trying
to combine our separate beings.
I bare my teeth and hiss at you through the foam.
From now on I content myself
with taking tiny pieces of you into myself,
with slowly, steadily wearing you away.