Friday, June 26, 2015

Branch

In the bookstore's cafe sits the perfect table,
its surface blonde and worn smooth
by thousands upon thousands of elbows
and mugs of coffee and books, I get dizzy
thinking of all the books which have pressed
their faces against it, rested their weary heads
upon its surface, kissing their distant cousin....
they recognize one other, both aware of the possibility
that right now they could be pulsing with sap in a forest,
could be stretching their arms towards the sky,
could be reaching their roots deep into the soil,
could be burning into a soft rain of ash.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Chomp

As she's up there reciting the kind of watery verse
that slips like broth between the tines of the fork
before it can reach your eager lips, my ravenous mind
wanders and eventually arrives
at that alley in Seattle with the wall completely covered
with wads of used chewing gum stuck there over the years
and hardened to a brightly splotched lacquer
several inches thick and reaching up fifteen feet.
I want to express the awe and ick I feel
each time I stand before it, tempted to touch
but prevented by disgust, even though the gum
is no longer soft or sticky, any germs or saliva long ago
scrubbed off by the rain, burnt away by the sun,
thousands of toothy indentations
being the only evidence they were ever inside a mouth.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bridge of Sighs


Like Katy Hepburn in Summertime
Swaddled in a shell, suffocating in solitude
Afraid it's too late to be loved. Afraid
it might not be. Wanting to be swept off
my feet. Romanced on the Venice Bridges.
A dream of dropping dahlias into the wake
of the gondoliers. Not sure
what I'd do if I actually ever was
transported there, not sure that if I stumbled on the edge
that I could ever regain my footing,
I'd pretty sure I'd drown in the canal
or at the very least contract some disease,
like she did, ending up with a rare form
of conjunctivitis
which she battled the rest of her life,
despite the director's taking the precaution of
filling the water with gallons of foaming disinfectant.
This I suppose is what you get
for doing your own stunts,
for not going through life with your eyes
squeezed tightly shut. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Education

Mitch is shoveling Kix into his mouth,
slopping milk all over the break room table.
Three other janitors huddle on the couch,
one from Croatia, one from Nepal, the third
from the suburbs of less faraway Gresham.
The computer is blaring one Bread song after another:
Professor Mitch is teaching a course in
pop music from the seventies
The Nepalese woman has just learned
that her entire family was killed in the earthquake
that recently shook the Himalayas.
When she describes what happened, she gestures
with her hand to show a house falling off
the edge of a cliff, sliding down
the side of a mountain.
The woman from Croatia occasionally
pats her on the shoulder. Mitch belches, pours
another bowl of cereal. Bread sings Sweet Surrender.
Lost Without Your Love. Everything I Own.
Weeks later, they're still pulling bodies
from beneath the stone and mud
in Kathmandu. I'm not sure if anyone
is learning anything, or what this lesson
is even supposed to be. Between songs I hear
the metronome tick of the spoon
as it scrapes the bottom of the empty bowl,
hear the roar of the great machines outside
the window, spewing asphalt and spreading tar
and causing the walls to vibrate as they rumble past.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Changeling

I would see her flitting out of the corner of my eye, a dancing speck, a darting insect zipping and weaving at the edge of my field of vision. Over time I started getting glimpses of her through the trees, a shadow swallowed by mist, slipping beneath the surface without releasing a single ripple. A flash, a burst, a blur. Eventually small details began to coagulate into focus: a painted fingernail, a few waxy toes, a shock of black feathers. A moonless night and she stepped from the trap, slipped out of the snare, evaded the shutter. I let the handful of blank photographs drop from my grip and gnashed and flailed and rent my garments, howling my need to catch even one real glimpse. I scalded my throat in the shower and collapsed, hitting my head on the edge of the tub. When I came to I wiped the steam from the bathroom mirror and there were her eyes, so wild and dark I could never look away.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Defiant Roar in the Face of Overwhelming Terror

The wrinkled sheet of paper
twisted in the grass beside
the wall beneath the street light
that at first glance looks exactly
like a sleeping cat

I would gamble everything
on this