It was the idea of the calf i loved
and not the calf though it licked me with its tongue
covered in taste buds like barnacles. I’d sleep with my head
on its warm side. Pretend to sleep. Pretend to like to be alone
though I wished I was in the fieldstone house
with the narrow winding staircase and a spigot in the wall that gushed
lemonade, playing caroms with the old folks. The calf came
with a story. It had been rejected by its mother.
I liked the idea of feeling sorry for it and tying orange ribbons
around its ears. Its black watery eye, a planet
of black water and no continents. If you sailed
that sea you’d have to sail forever. When it got the bloat and died
I invented sadness, reached down into my emptiness
like a wishing well and drew up a small wooden bucket
of tears. They knocked down the lean-to with the green tractor.
The calf was never mine, though I said it was.
Men displayed the things we didn’t want to see
but needed to see anyway, they’d put on their work
gloves and grab a bat sleeping upside down in the attic
and hold it still so we’d have to look at its small eyes
and fangs, its triangle ears like a little dog’s,
and the black fuzz on its head sticking straight up
like the minister’s baby who died from crib death, they’d
gut a fish and cut open the egg sac or take out their own
glass eyes and roll them across the table, they’d slip out
their false teeth and smile at us or lead us down
to the tracks to see the woman in the car that had been
crushed by a train, or anything born with two heads
or an eye in the center of its forehead, or the burned
velvet curtains flapping in the wind around the black
stage when the opera house burned down.
Soft pink apple covered in bees
covered in bees.
none of my business unless I’m the apple.
a matter of fact I am
apple. I’m soft,
I smell like apples. I sometimes
like apples, dream of bees.
I met a man
a bright white undershirt. His gold
gleamed. I touched
smooth muscle. It was like lifting a chess piece
deciding where to lay it
Nearby the brown eggs waited
be chosen and broken.
fences between everything and everything
crumbled as if struck by incredibly powerful
I’ve waited to be chosen and broken.
him, bottles of milk stood like Ionic
in the Erectheum, or bridesmaids
long cold dresses.
I walk among ghosts.
at the store. Buoyed up
the spirit world.
had a choice to crush or spare
gnat crawling on this piece
paper. I put out my finger
it crawled into the grooves
a miserable man hoists
onto a life raft or out
a rotten marriage. I didn’t
like a good person, what is
good person, somebody
me. I felt almost queasy
felt my father there, my dead
and friends. Not buoying
I guess. I wouldn’t even call it
They have sort of a hands-off
I’m saying I have witnesses,
though I live alone. When
eat fruit they savor my savoring.
music that goes along with this scenario,
I can’t name it. It isn’t pretty. The guitar’s so raw it makes me
sick. My sternum’s missing. Heart’s unprotected.
wind. Salty rain.
before the hurricane
like salt, but you have to taste it
know it, you have to let it touch you
then you must bring it to your lips.
know it you swallow it.
I could call you darling, I could call you
I could hack my way out of a drowned
to get back to you.
I could stand here, briny water rising
my nipples. Eve stood there.
held an apple in her hand,
palm extended like a pleasure boat.
Even in hell there are songbirds
just cawing but full trills, music rising like swells
a windy ocean, each bird a chip off of some
abstraction, beaks gold as trumpets
yellow blossoms, in hell birds are free
they are not symbolic of freedom, there are no
in hell, the moonflowers open
close their mouths but have nothing
say, the bees sting the poppy’s heart and carry away
black pollen, and we in our uniforms sit
our lawn chairs and watch, we take it all in,
let it pound us like breakers into the side of a tethered
boat, we receive beauty as a nail receives
hammer blow, and we remember our losses,
the gains we thought were gains but were really losses,
we cannot rub even two words together, not enough
let loose a spark, not enough to light a fire in a thimble,
this is the hell of it
Hopes and dreams I tell you
nougat but there is something
though not so sweet, no merging,
synchrony of watches but a kind of—
you’ve seen a heron stand
in the middle of a pond,
throat tilted back to feel
dogfish swim down or a woman
the edge of a meadow staring off,
at something she’s achieved just
into the unified field, or El Greco’s self
from 1604, long chin resting
the ruffled collar like a delicate bird
a crumbling nest, ears poking out and sad
brown eyes his Jerónima once soothed
her cool fingertips, lines in the forehead
to the yellow eggish cranium where once
dream resided, even El Greco, wealthy
to hire musicians to play while they dined, alone
last in the frame like an owl hunched on a tree limb
a small white cat moving through the Rose
Sharon at 3 a.m. or a woman racked with grief
toward the kitchen in her sour bedclothes
eat white cherries straight from the can.