Sniper

how you—tiny, unseen—with your limbs curled up
like dead autumn leaves as they dry upon the sidewalk
keep the boys at bay with your black bones and your tup-
tup-tupping fortunes makes wonder when you talk
about ripping up the lives and conventions into bits
and living off unfinished dreams with a black rifle in tow
as still as still your body waits and sits
for the perfect shot through your scope in winter snow.

i beckon how the range your shots can take is so grand
when i see that smile—the toothy bullets popping off a round
and then you hide; it's baffling when you clench your hand
your finger squeezing for that lovely sound.

in your perch, you wait and strain and stay
and hit me off from five hundred yards away.

Morning Song

a bird calling—
a robin—
the song taste like
the morning: dewy,
earthen in its wake
as i wake
the sun is like cream
and each little blade
of grass
is an apple
picked by my feet
inch
by
inch
until they are full
and moist
from the robin's morning song

Morning After

i woke up, alive (barely) today and let the sun
warm my body for once—there was no arms
but only beams; no nightsweats but only the firmness
of my sheets. the blankets were up over my neck
and i gagged like i wanted: nothing came up or out
but everything pooled through the window,
over hundreds of miles over to you
but your eyes barely flickered.

Snow

the blood is red, thick, teaming with rationale
but it cannot relieve the dryness in my throat;
the summer heat makes me weary of all the pedestals
we made in the snow—i hold the torch we lit
to explore what was in these lines and sheets,
to read what someone carved in the table at the bar
but it made the snow melt into my insecure puddle
mixed with undeserving tears—a noxious cocktail
that makes me sick with each reluctant sip:
sometimes water is harder to take than wine.

Hanging/Dangling

black-rimmed catch phrases posted up
with crimped paper, i know i have a bird on the corner
but no one seems to mind its squawking
until i say a word. but hey, who knew that i would not end up
in the corner because i incorrectly thought the metal casing for
the light fixtures curved out from the ceiling just enough
to let me pass rolled-up sheet through—i’ll admit i’m no good with knots
but this one doesn’t have to hold too long: only two three minutes
tops, as long as i can leap from my desk
and resist the urge to sway my legs over for help, solid ground
while i count my pennies in my head inside your used coffee can;
i like to feel the stiffness around my neck,
maybe enough so i can vomit or cry and let every ugly thing
spew from my body—i have a black suit, so everything will show—
i will like the stiffness for one more time, the last time
and let the stiffness hold me forever until i am found:
i love my darkblue bed sheets: they are sturdy, strong, reliable
and they can always hold me—around, tightly,
but mostly up and tightly.

Domain Range

the tops of the buildings fuse with the sky to form a mountain range,
steel-capped and jagged, Matterhorns with mortar avalanches
caused by the thud of wrecking balls—the fauna scatter:
mountain goats ramming themselves into red brick crags,
raptors perched on smokestack branches, regurgitating into rising smog.

the landscape sways like a woman's hips as she swaggers proudly:
side to side, up and over as the peaks reach higher and wider
while her hipbones step one two three four
across the ground, over the air and across the summits.

Sunset at the Bar, Beer in Hand

the light streak from the windows form a highway on your arms:
six lanes, both ways and an interstate we have, tobogganing over
the freckles of your arms—those potholes that wreck my buzzing fingers
as they (dare i say) drive over your little hairs. your elbow makes the exits
where i merge to your shoulders and let my hands rest
for just a moments, working them and making your neck crank back
and moan like the roar of a semi—i notice there are never any semis
on the highways on Sundays, like those across the freeway find a shady tree
to rest under like God said, so i wonder if my hands can idle
for so long upon your circling breaking shoulders:
so now i move down, heading south under your collar bone
which you say must be blocked off for repairs but i drive through your warning signs
doing eighty-five ninety because i have places to go.

off the highway, country roads laced with bumps and hills
and a brace myself: landscapes so soft i can’t help but take my tongue and lips
just to have a taste—home sweet home, of course, my mouth wrapping itself around
these stones.

Gigantium Humeris Insidentes

the white lilies born from the ground are for me
(i hope and think and feel so) and i can carry their leaves
on my back—the gusts can wander over my bones
tricking over their stems, my spine and the flowers’
are one, breaking breaking from bending too far—my burden comes
from bearing such sweetness.

there’s a garden on my shoulders: sprouts erecting
and rising like cranes, the stringy matter torn
from growing plant flesh by prying fingers, unjust hands and anomalous motions
that pick and pluck the green until it fades
to white.

my vertebrae are steep, curling under the resting flowers
with my back arched forward over my ribs: the stands for tomato vines
transformed amorously to hold a tasteless enigma for the eyes—
the flesh ‘round my bones cannot hold up to ripe tomato vines
and the fruits are seedless, unable to drop down to the earth
and spread their lovlies across the soil: our mouths will instead
be filled with the bitterness of lilly stems, moist from the summer heat
dripping off of my back and down to the ground,
feeding the only sweetness the earth can bear now
(like my arching breaking back).

TANKA VI

the air thick like the
murky lake water, only
warmer, less charming
and tingling my flesh firmly
so it peels off in moisture

The Duality of Being [Part IV]

IV
The Collective for the Individual

The purpose of the Collective now stands to be tested, as One needs to understand why we who deserve to Be are entangled among the Collective can in any manner benefit from doing so. As Individuals, we embed ourselves in the Collective, but I for one have to believe that it is for more than a simple basic Human Need to meld together. Because Living is the basic foundation of both Doing and Being, and the need to bond together is such a basic need, the simplicity of the two must be significant in the Human invention that is the Collective.

The Units that we create all form to satisfy some Need that we as Humans have. The point of Units is to allow an Individual to grow, to survive by learning the skills and motives needed to Live. Through learning, adaptation, and forming a Collective, Humans bypass the Individual within themselves to be simply Human: a mortal whose only concern is to remain as much, neglecting any developed notion of Doing and—most disturbingly—Being.

If we are a highly evolved species as we are led to believe, we must be able to transcend the notion of simply Living and focus on Being. However, because we are indeed mortal with primal needs that we cannot ignore, there must be a method for us to satisfy such things and allow us to Live to allow us to Do which then allows us to Be.

It is an evolution of sorts: how we go from simply trying to Live, to figuring out how to Do to continue Living, and, finally, how we are able to Do for the Self, or Be. We, being ingenious, have to have found a way to at least keep Living with a desire for Being. What keeps us Living to continue the evolution to Being?

The answer is the Collective.

The purpose of the Collective—if Human Existence remains true to history—comes about when One considers the means of Living. The Collective works to provide the means to allow Humans to Live—at least, it is supposed to. The ideal condition of the Collective, of course, is to meld itself in such a manner to allow the Individual to Be—to allow for the satisfaction of those basic primal Needs to let the Individual become a true Self without concern for simply Living—only for Being. This ideal condition is one of the closest that we as a Collective will ever have as a Collective Ideal. When contemplating this ideal, all other ideals are brought into a better, more profound and understanding light: Why does the Collective shun those who do harm onto others? Because it interferes with ones Living. Why does the Collective frown upon taking that which does not belong to One? Because it takes away the means with which One can Live. It goes on and on in an eternal desire to see the Collective live on for the sake of the Individual. The Collective is nothing without the Individual. The Individual is nothing without the Collective.

The Collective allows the Individual to Be by satisfying the means to Live. Thus beginning the evolution that continuously molds itself to create something wonderful for the sake of Being—those who be should be allowed to Do so with little concern for simply Living.

One must expound the Self beyond Living, and the Collective allows for such If the Collective Does its proper function, we, as Individuals can Be.

Finis.

The Duality of Being [Part III]

III
The Individual in the Collective

The Collective is composed of literally billions of Individuals—each one One in his or her own right. The Collective becomes a means and justification for what one Does, as the aforementioned Units (and beyond) have a tremendous effect on the Individual and his or her desires. Think of the instances when One does something for the sake of someone else—whether to aid or assist them or to impress and please them. Either way, the context of Perspective leaves the Individual striving for the Self, yet striving for Others. This contradiction presents a dynamic that the Individual must fight to a certain degree:

First, the Individual must decided which aspects of the Collective are those that hold a place of high regard in his or her life. In other words, the Individual must decide which of those Units could potentially conflict with his or her Oneness. Perhaps the most common interference comes from the Individual him/herself: How one chooses or has the desire to Live beyond the Oneness of the Self. Some often says that they chose to Live for others; however, in the aforementioned distinction between Living and Being given, this phrase must be corrected and say that one instead Is for someone else.

The Individual is left with one dilemma within the confines of the Self: Is it nobler to Live, Do, or Be for One or for someone else? Looking at the difference among the Trifecta that comprises the Individual, one can determine the differentiation among the Individual and Collective views of each. For Living—because Living refers to one simply surviving with the means of basic Human needs satisfied sufficiently—is perhaps most noble (when noble at all) when done for the sake of another; the majority of those in the Collective can agree that assisting Individuals in the process of Living is an action of piety and loyalty to both the Individual and the Collective (this is perhaps the closest that we as a Collective will ever get to a Collective Ideal). The concept of Doing complicates the matter significantly more. Because what One Does distinguishes him or her from the rest of those in the Collective, the motive that drives One to Do one thing over another is more perhaps more crucial than what one actually does. One must decided not what to Do, but why to Do what One Does. These motives are only considered noble or unnoble by the Collective. Doing something for the Self and only the Self is often considered selfish—which inhibits the act of Being. Because Being becomes what One Does without concern for Living, it is inherently selfish to Be. The Individual Is what the Individual wants to Be, and only true Being comes only from the motives and desires of the Individual. To Be transcends any thought of Living—in other words, it Being is Doing without concern for Living. However, the question remains as to whose Living One can ignore in Being and still be noble. Thus, the second aspect of the aforementioned dynamic.

The question is whether or not one can Be outside of the wishes of the Self. Being allows one to Do whatever he or she wants for his or her own sake and for concern with nothing else. However, can the Collective and any other individual within the Collective be counted as “nothing else”? The possibility of Being for someone else is strange within itself, as Being allows One to ignore any concerns other than those of the Self—Others and Living.

It would take the most pious Individual to want to Be for Others—One who dedicates the Self entirely to the Collective and Others. However, a contradiction arrises about the Self: If Being for Others fulfills One—makes One happy in a sense—does Being for Others really represent a lack of selflessness? If it gives One pleasure and fulfillment, is it truly for the sake of another and not for the Self? The concept of the Collective would say that this is the best way to Be, but it is not truly Being if not for the Self, as Being allows one to Do for the Self and not for others. There can be no Being for the sake of the Collective, only for the Self.

Wedding Dress

i pity you, the one who claims to want
to marry me. i think of how distasteful it all is
for you: how the color of the dress is a judgment
on you—although it’s not much of a surprise
if we have to go with eggshell or ivory because well
i think you’re family knows; and mine can assume
and be only half-right. even so we could lift up your skirt
to look inside—to see if it is broken (which logic will tell you
is not a good indicator of purity, and purity
is never a good indicator of good)
but i have nothing: i am home-free, safe
from scrutinies—what are they going to look for?
no one can say that my black tux should be white.
no one can look down on me and see any trace
of lusting: except maybe the darkened strip
where i gripped too hard
but frankly no one wants to see that anyway.
i figure you could wear black or brown
or even red if you really wanted to
because your family already knows
and mine can only assume (my family has reserves
against white things anyway—i think it comes from
California or Texas
or somewhere else out west). who needs a wedding
anyway? who needs your family and mine judging
the both of us? saying that you aren’t wearing white
or that there’s no way i’ll make enough money
for the kids that we may or may not have (if it’s
judging we want to prevent, we should wait until
after the reception to tell our parents, if that
is the case (but let’s make it not the case)).
i know someone will shout something
when we have the priest announce us as
“partners” because i know you hate “wife”:
someone in the sea of Catholics is going to hate you
for being so damn stubborn and going to hate me
for letting you walk all over me like that (their words,
not mine). but i don’t really give a damn
because we don’t need the attention—at least
you don’t; i can live without it if that helps you get through
our special day.

Lee Majors in Fingertips

how tragic that my hands are not embedded
with silk or diamond-encrusted—
even a rose petal or two would work
to make them fitting to run over your skin
as you sleep.
you tell me that you ache, that you want it
so badly, but i think we both know that
i want it so badly, so you can’t help
but feel a little sorry for me.
i suppose that is why i wish my hands
were more than spoiled flesh:
i wish they were something soft to make you want
to fall asleep;
or even something sharp to cut off
all those chunks of your body
that you seem to hate—but i truly love—
just to get you to stop wincing over their sight.
i wish my hands were something more than they are
so i have an excuse to use them on you
like cunning pistols in a Western.

Hotel

upon this rented bed we left a thickness
from the depths of our lust and breath
that rose with hot air:
the fingers over the warm stiff sheets
are aching like palm trees bending to break
in a humid rush and typhoon
of our overloved bodies

Corners

i owe my debts
to these corners
as i wait for the little
electric man
to tell me it's safe
to walk (though we know
that by simply stepping foot
out of my door
there's so much to risk)
these corners keep me
wishing for the road
instead of these treaded sidewalks
and beaten paths of any sort:
i want a smooth ride now
past street corners and those walking
so i can see the blur

Ode to the Record that May Have Gotten Scratched

never again will my hands in insult you
with the curses in my fingers
and the expletives in my nails:
instead i will brush you gently
with love poems from the pads of my fingers
and brush the dust off of you with my palms—
but i promise i won't forget to tuck you in
more gently than i have before:
your cardboard down comforter
and your thin plastic sheets will warm you
to help you heal your owie.

Butterfly

a butterfly wing flapping over our bodies
is only a dead dream: how we thought we
would have a branch-full of chrysalises
by now. how we thought that you and i
would find pollen in our poetry, how we could
not give a lazy beady eye to the neon flowers
around us—we were sure that our feelers would know
only the kiss of spring breezes on their tips
and not the piercing of well anything
as we flapped along together. we dreamed
of being dragonflies instead: joined at the sex
in flight, but more elaborate in the form of our bodies.

still we press on as something that flies does,
waiting to see if our wings can make it over these caverns outside of our bed.

Four-Day Weekend

through that thin nylon swimsuit
soaked in crystal lake waters
i can see your nipples protruding out,
cut-throat enough for diamonds
and calling my hands over to them:

this water chills us, they say, and she
and we both know how your hands
radiate heat: you are a perpetual motion machine
of warmness, deferring all laws of thermodynamics
to the textbooks—you are an enigma:
baffling her and us like Stonehenge
that stands tall and proud like we do now.

slick and unwasted i want to see them
cup them and mostofall kiss them
and feel the sharpness cut my tongue:
each little drop of blood diluted
by these crystal-blue brisk waters.

SONNET: The Circle with the Upside-Down Lower-Cased T

sometimes i wonder when reading about those days
when your body was soft and anxious to take in the thrusting of men that are not me
what drove you to Ani: what made you find a soft solace in her stiff strumming
and round-bodied guitar, slightly smaller than mine to better take her fingers like you wished to take yours.

i bet you would like Feministing: but at the same time i wonder if that would be too much for you—
we all know the glass ceiling is there, and dammit, i am trying to break it with little rocks of knowledge
but i wonder if you really care: i don't think a little less in the check would keep you from wanting to grab men by the throat
and choke them with your words and lines and your sweet sweet indents.

Marjorie Kemp is a hero of yours, i'm sure, but how did this come about?
what happened when you were, say, seventeen that made your blood boil and your hormones rage against mine?
what spoutings of the Holy Catholic Church made you want to take the blood of Christ and bathe in it?
i mean, i think i know, but i'm just wondering what finally did you in.

i guess i can see why these things would come about, but i know you are less about the why and more about the is:
the why are those girls in slutty clothes that you despise and have no sympathy for.

The Duality of Being [Part II]

II
The Collective

The Collective—on its most basic level—is the combination of the world’s Individuals.

In a level beyond the most basic, the Collective serves to satisfy the needs of the Individual to be part of a group—an innate Human need to not be alone. Whether this need is instinctive or a product of human experimentation is irrelevant: the matter lies within what the Collective is meant to do, the function of the Collective and its role in the life and the Am of the Individual.

Some argue that the vision of the Collective is to better the lives of the Individual. In a way, this is true, as the Individual can only know and do so much for the benefit of his or her own life.

It benefits one to note the we as Humans treat the Collective as one entity rather than what it truly is: a grouping of all Individuals. Rather than seeing each individual Individual in the greater context of the Collective, we see the Collective almost as an Individual itself—with its own thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Humans must understand that there truly can be no such thing as a “Collective Ideal,” a circumstance in which every Individual has the same belief system in place in regards to the benefit of the Individual and the Collective.

Any notion of the Collective Ideal is shattered when one becomes, is, or knows the Exception that Proves the Rule: the One who does not align with anything that comes close to the Collective Ideal. To say that the Collective has one unified Ideal is a tremendous fallacy, for if the Collective had one Ideal, then every Individual would simply be decimated and melded into a figurative Collective Mass. To say that there is a Collective Ideal is to say the the Individual has no standing within the Collective.

This is not only an insult to the Individual and his or her mindset, Living, Doing, and Being; it also presents the Collective in a context that is on the same level of the Individual, undermining the importance of the Individual within him/herself and the role and purpose of the Individual within the Collective.

Faulkner or Die

or, Battle of the Ages

i had visions of the bookstore
(Faulkner was calling my name
with his dark, Southern droll)
but here, on my bed made
of polished industrial pine
i want to lay my head down,
drown my day in grease and cheese
and fall asleep with my shoes on.

Not Today

not today:
my mind does not linger on sweetness
softness of brutality—
i am not preoccupied
with the summer rain
or the breeze that shakes the leaves
right off of the plush,
sprouting trees;
my only lust comes from miles away
and the only sense of humor i have
was left in my vacant room.

not today: i don't feel it
today.

Wings

there are lovers atop your wings
who can feel the thermals you ride
over deserted valleys and canyons:
the sit upon your plumage
and taste the warm dry air
you beat your wings over.

The Duality of Being [Part I]

I
The Individual

As a human being and member of Humanity, I am torn between two primal factions in any attempt to answer the question of who I am: I am an Individual, but, as an Individual, I am also an individual component who is part of a larger Society. In certain manners, these feelings are primal and hark upon instincts that have kept Man alive for millennia.

First, there is innate desire to be a part of a Collective—we are, after all, a species of Units: family, friends, school, companies, teams, et cetera. We flock to one another and—with a few exceptions to those who prefer the Solitary for reasons beyond my mind—thrive on how we are accepted in the eyes of those with whom we associate. I cannot even begin to fathom all of the instances in my daily life where I attempt to please others for the sake of good impression: sounding intelligent for the sake of my instructors and peers, attempting to be romantic and caring to my Love, attempting to please those with whom I work in various capacities, and others. Still, the question arises as to why we continue to strive for such approval.

As much as I would like to think that I am an “enlightened” (i.e., one who has evolved beyond the basic human instincts and desires) Individual, I must admit that the enlightened does not keep one from the need to be in the Collective. But, like all things of life on this Earth, the big is made up of the small: Particles, molecules, atoms, elements. With this analogy, one must remember that the Collective is made up of the Individual—the big from the small.

The question arises is how one becomes an Individual in the eyes of the Collective. In the most positive sense, the best way—in our Collective, at least—is to drive self from what one does. How I mean this is in the context of the basic Human needs that we all have. We all have the same basic needs to stay alive, and these are the only things that are really Universal throughout the course of Human Existence (so Universal, in fact, that I will not even bother to mention them here, as I am sure that you who read this are Humans and know what you need). Because we all have the same needs, how we differentiate ourselves from being simply part of a Species is to Do. To Do is to become a One among Many. How often do we identify each other and ourselves by a title, an insignia of what we do with our daily lives? You know your doctor as doctor, your professor as professor, your priest as Father, and so on. So it appears that we are what we Do in multiple contexts—whether good or bad, noble or unnoble.

We ourselves have answered the question of how to become One: To Do. Yet, in our Doings, we work toward acceptance by the Collective, and this faction is something that no (decent) Human can live without.

There is a stark contrast presented among the manner of Living and of Doing: To Live means one has satisfaction—or strives for satisfaction—of those basic Human needs to survive. To Do means to live beyond that faction and to strive for something than simply Living. The two, Living and Doing, combine into something greater in the cosmos of our Individual existence: Being.

Being comes from the idea of not only how one Lives but also combines what one Does. In the simplest context, one Is what one Does, and what one Does affects how one Lives. The most basic example is what one does as his or her occupation—how one earns the means to Live (i.e., money). What one Does determines how one Lives. However, the idea of an occupation—or the manner in which one spends his or her time, for pay or not—culminates itself into what one desires, what one creates, and what one Is. The link between Living and Doing is Being: To Be is to Do without concern for Living.

The Individual is defined by what he or she Does—what he or she Is. The point of the Individual is to Be, and the point of being is to Do beyond the confines of simply Living. What one Does to Be is based solely on the desires of the Individual; though in some cases the desires of the Collective seep into their decisions.

The true Individual Is outside of any Collective influence—the true Individual strives to Be, not simply to Live.

Lying in a Field AKA My Bed

you are the tall stringy grass
where i lie and wait to be engulfed
under the poppies and dander:
the thin strand i wish to pluck
and chew over in my back teeth
as the cud works its way down my throat—
i feel the sprouts within me,
giving my blood the sweet sugars in your stalks.

Ode to the Little Worm on the Sidewalk

to you, i present this image: a dead worm
shriveled and lying on the sidewalk
after the apocalyptic flood that ravished these streets
dried the dirt and the worms tender pink flesh.

when the urban tides fell he rose
up from the soil, sprouting like a mid-June
dandelion, with his brothers up and up
until he could inch over to the asphalt

and stretch out fully. the cement was still moist
but firm—unlike the dirt-gone-mud from
the monstrous week-long rains; this little worm
(not so little then: proud and long,

fat with earth and scaly worm-vigor) found it better
than his main course-gone-soup. his little brothers
followed, blooming from one another, making a delta
of pink fleshy currents over the cracked and dimpled

sidewalk—they fled the mud looking for who-knows-what
and heading for who-knows-where; all they knew was that
the rock-hard paths and streets were salvation compared to
the washed-out Earth where so many of their own drowned.

they escaped to freedom: they made it to the surface
before the ground collapsed from the weight of gallons
of rain water: the murky industrial kind that lingers
on the grass long after it dries up from the sun.

they had no where else to go. they crawled and crawled,
the fattest little worm (the one in this mental frame) crawling farther
and farther from the grass—what seems like miles and miles—
a cross-country trip for you and i, only by the means

of his eager slothless inching. he squirmed more and more
as the rain water cleared from the ground
when the sun finally came out: it was a Friday.
he could see the grass on the other side

of the busy street: he saw a new home, freedom, prosperity:
he was a tiny pioneer searching for new fertile lands
for he and his brethren to overtake; they will build a new life
in dry, parched soil—Manifest Destiny on a grander scale.

but as the sun came out and the air became dryer
the journey became harsher: the cracked and beaten path
became a Teflon frying pan on medium-low heat,
searing the little worm trail; the biggest, fattest worm

(the one from this image now framed in your head) trekked on—
he had seen his mother drown before his eyes
and his little brother—just moments ago—stick to the concrete,
his flesh now crisp from the mid-day sun.

he moved on, digging deeper and deeper into himself
like he had dug into the soil before: he inched
and crawled, squirmed and wiggled, moving toward
that lush green grass on the other side.

but the sun was too much. he could feel the moisture
seeping from his body, each squirm becoming harder
as his rough underbelly stuck to the sidewalk:
he was trapped.

he lay there, thinking of the floods that drove him
to this demise; his brothers and sisters behind him,
all gone. he—the last hope of the inchers—, now helpless,
stops his moving, stops his thinking, stops his dreaming.

he shrivels. he sees feet coming out to enjoy
the newfound sun: as he curls up from the heat
he wishes only that one of them would tread on him
to take him to that little patch of dirt

in the sky.

Tercet

your absence drives my throat to open
and my eyes to collapse upon themselves:
even wine cannot fill the empty well.

Suit

i wish i were
a two-piece fitted suit—
black,
two-button jacket,
flat-front pants,
38 regular on the coat
and 30(29 if i'm lucky)x32 pants—
with a clean slim-fitting
white Oxford underneath
and a Windsor knot
made of that lovely black/silver/
gray/white-striped tie
my girlfriend bought me
for Christmas 2009;
a pair of slip-one black leather dress shoes
with black argyle socks;
a black leather briefcase
with silver latches
and room for my MacBook (Pro);
the silver watch my girlfriend bought me
for Memorial Day 2010.

but instead i'm a pair of bootcut jeans
(32x32)
with tears in the back from my Converse High-Tops
(black)
and a baggy cotton zip-up sweater
i could have sworn was wool
and a dingy white t-shirt;
an Army-Green messenger bag with a twisted strap
and cookie crumbs in the pocket;
faded Hanes ankle socks with holes in the toes
and the silver watch my girlfriend bought me
for Memorial Day 2010.

Fruit

i have a proverbial salad confined in my verse
from every corner of the fertile earth;
only certain fruits belong in poems:

apples—times of innocence and a glass of milk on the side,
Americana at its finest, fresh-baked and cooling on the window sill
or mushed up and fed to a toothless infant mouth.

plums—Williams did it best
but their juices are smooth and never-ending, the pit
is only something you take hold of when your fingers are properly drenched.

oranges—vitamin C, healing, the toughness of peels
and the bitterness of the white stringy substance under the zest
that every poet picks out of their teeth.

peaches—only if one writes about the South
in a positive light
(and only writers from the South should ever taste that fruit).

grapes—only in the context of good wine;
or bad wine if one has enough of a problem
like any good poet should.

tomatoes—fruits at their finest: as little orbs
plucked from merciless vines by colored hands—
in fact, white poets should not use tomatoes: they are mine.

pomegranates—the Fruit, says some Biblical scholar
(the apple is just too American to be used as Knowledge):
antioxidants can heal you and Knowledge can open your eyes—

killing you.

Sine Re

sine re auri sum
tollere supra mea culpa
in magnuficetntia

Blind

i am blind
from the clouds buzzing over
Ann Arbor:
they eat up the radio waves
and filter the sunlight so that only the harmful UV rays
poke through—
never before have i seen such whiteness
in something so unpure:
i am blind.

Moisture

my body is filled with rigorous moisture:
rainwater which keeps my lips wet
and my mouth dehydrated—
every chance i get i let some out
like a spigot watering dry March grass
whether it needs it or not.

there is only so much i can hold
before i can a place to release these waters
and make something more fertile—
the faucet knobs turn at the bar
when my eyes are thick and red
because her tilled plot of land is dry and thirsty.

i have a contract with a private owner
and she gets exclusive rights to my moisture.

but now i'm bottling it up,
saving it
for a drought
because there is enough rain in the air
where i am not needed:
seven days—
there will be back-ups
and desires to burst up until there is no more rain:

only beaches.

Milk

this place smells like cereal
with fresh morning milk:
i swear it's not the beer talking—
i imagine CoCo Puffs or something
that tastes swell when dredged in 2 percent
but instead there is just a hint of factory workers
reliving those magical 60's—
when "negro" was something forbidden
and my Hispanic skin may or may not
have been allowed at this bar.
my mother never breastfed me
but i still know what good milk tastes like:
it tastes like a farm rather than the tenderness
of my mother's breasts—
it tastes like a temperate spring day
with an after snack of gram crackers;
not like this Sacred Cow:
bitter and sharp on my tongue
as the bubbles remind me of a good night
of love making
that leads to a little bun in a familiar oven
which leads to fresh milk
like that i can smell
and have never tasted myself.

Tree

understand this:
i may share roots with the tree
known as WCW
like the redwoods in Wyoming—
all intertwined underground—
but, by God,
but i will pick and choose the fruits
from Hispanic instance
despite what Don Cellini tells me:
i am a melting pot of Catholic guilt
and Protestant privilege
even though i've only been
to one Lutheran mass
in my life.

i am no Anglican or Unitarian
but by God i am alive
and i am writing as a man
unbound by rosary beads—
i don't know what Williams was
but i know he was not like me:
he was the seed from which the branches of my brethren
sprouted
and i am the branch that broke off
in a lightning storm.

Rain

today's the kind of day
where you have to stick your hand out the window
in order to tell
if it is raining;

or you have to watch the puddles
on the rooftop below yours
to see if it ripples
or stands still.

the rain is grey
like the sky—the fusing of smoke from thousands
of God's smoke stacks—and the wind
keeps it all from falling straight
and instead makes it prick your eyes
with each spring drop:

Tuesdays are always days for rain.

No May

this wind is crisp and cool
and my shirt is utterly thin:
the breeze flails my unwashed hair about
as each gust penetrates my shirt—
tightening my skin
and tensing my muscles.

the sunlight and the shade
fight for my attention
as the shapes of street lamps and awnings fuse together
to make amorphous blobs
of darkness.

today is a March day
with just a hint of late September
and a dash of August:
May is nowhere to be found.

Isabella

you are
feverish, straining to leave
the confines of my sister’s
constricting, unblooming
womb

you are
restless, unruly,
turning upside
down
pumping your legs
and stretching
my sister’s skin
until it sags

you are
making
yourself
a wild thing
as you make yourself
ready to pluck
like a soft
summer
plum

Texas

para mi primos y primas

for those of you who think that Texas is our Promise Land
i want you to remember that San Antonio
(although it has a holy name)
is no Jerusalem—Austin is damn close
but still far enough away for us to miss out
on salvation.

Michigan is your Egypt but you have no Moses:
who will lead you from your enslavement,
courtesy of Roger Smith and John Engler?
we've had our plagues of pink slips
and rosary beads that run on ethanol,
but this will not lead us to the Promise Land—
twenty-two hours down I-75
and just a little off to the left.

the Rio Grande is not the Jordan—
though our waters are more blessed
because they carry the hopes and blessings
from Mexico—we all know Tejas is damn close
but it's still no Gift from God:
it's merely a Motrin—a way for you all to forget
about the children you too-soon bore here
and your dying factories and bodies.

Texas is not the Eucharist—it is an aspirin.

Over the Phone

your voice—
grazing the tops
of pine trees—
darted through the air
and bounced
with each little
O O O
yes
God
please kiss
those maple trees
O yes
God please
yes

dear Love yes
kiss my ears
with your voice O O O yes
the leaves will feel
your lips
floating onward
through the skyyes

Restless

a song—key of F#

i have seen your apparition crawling on my wall
i watch all your shadows lurking on me dark and tall
through your window i can see men crawling on the floor
but you stay high and mighty, pushing them all out the door

and when the evening comes to pass
i can't close my eyes
but this night is not our last
there's just enough for us to try

falling raindrops piercing begging me to break your skin
and they will wash away your faith in me that's wearing thin
through my window you can see me lying on the floor
because when you're not there then i'm not sleeping anymore

and when the evening comes to pass
i can't close my eyes
but this night is not our last
there's just enough for us to try

Wedding Photos

you wore black—
appropriate for a funeral
but somehow it fit you
at that extravagant ceremony—
and for once you bore your shoulders
when they were not warmed by
the cardigan that once sat
on my floor:
open bar and oldies spinning

at the wedding (and in my room)

Circus Tent

five hours away from you: each one a peg in this circus tent
erected in my lonely thoughts—
a clown,
acrobats,
trapeze artists
and dancing elephants parade about
twirling and spitting fire: each one is a vision
prancing about in three little rings:

LEFT RING:
the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy
roam around, the people can't help but gawk
and laugh—the women and children
are terrified, but the men know that it's like
to feel such sick pleasures. there's something perverse about
never wanting to look away from
the misunderstood, the chastised,
the freakish.

RIGHT RING:
the lion tamer—the one bating the beast
until its mouth opens up without a growl;
a chair and a whip do their job
of keeping the wild
the unruly and the untrainable
at bay.

CENTER RING:
the trapeze: sixty feet off the ground and held together only with
frayed cables—the Great Antony takes the platform,
hands dusted and sparkling tights donned;
he grips the bar as the crowd hushes,
the women and children with their mouths agape.
he takes off, the wind flailing his hair about
moving back and forth
until he gains enough momentum.
he lets go
and a collective gasp rings out from the crowd:
one twist
two twists
a flip
a third twist
his hand reaches out
for the other swing
but he's just two inches short.
he falls faster
faster
until he is terminal:
he said he didn't need the net.

three little rings: the unbearable,
the tamer,
the dreamer—only one
is dead;

but the whole tent must come down:
one little hour-peg at a time.

Moment

i know a moment is nothing more
than the crisp tick of a wristwatch.

a moment is the culmination of senses—
of thoughts, feelings—mixing into a fine cocktail:

a drunk that leaves one under the bar
wondering what just happened.

each moment a drink in a barhop
marked by calendar pages, photo albums,

wedding rings, and children—
these are the different bartenders

who decide who string each drink will be.
(and you should never flirt with that woman

at the bar in the black—she is the one
who decides when you’ve had enough

for the night.)

Lunch Hour

Ann Arbor—University of Michigan Law School Building
Wednesday, 12:10pm;
72°, mostly sunny:

the crew lays down their orange vests
and sit down on the concrete steps,
setting their dust-covered work boots
on their white hardhats.

Rob pulls out a pack of Camels
and passes them around:
Danny strokes his stubble
as he lights up—
they all pull out their Tupperware and gorge
on last night's chicken and potatoes or their ham and cheese sandwiches,
wishing they had a cold Bud to wash it all down.

further down the street—
under the shade of a maple sapling—
Andy sits alone on the grass,
his balding head glistening with the rays.
the pasta is a little cold
but the sun is warm enough. he takes bites
and chews carefully,
wiping remnants of starch from his black mustache.
he cocks his head to the side, takes a sip
from his Thermos
and sets it down gently:

he reaches into his pocket
and pulls out a phone—outdated,
underused—and dials.
a smile upon his face as the person on the other line
answers.

how is work?

guess what Jake said earlier . . .

did you need me to pick up Sarah
from soccer today?

silence: and a grin sprouts upon
his livened face.

i miss you.

i can't wait
to see you tonight.

i was thinking of grilling out today;
it's so nice out here!
i just hope the rain
holds off.

i miss you too.

i will see you tonight.

i love you.

bye.

he hangs up, places the phone back
in his jeans pocket—
looks up at the sunlight
in the leaves of the sapling:
the stone wall behind him shows his shadow
melding with the tree's.

he picks up his Tupperware
and his Thermos,
puts his vest and hardhat back on
and walks back over to the guys.

they say nothing to him.

there is really nothing they can say.

At the Post Office

let’s ship this
together: we can save a little bit
of money.

honey, your’s ees heavier
than mine—zat’s not really fair
to me.

can’t we do this
together? you never want to do
anything together anymore.

will this be together or separate?

together—
they’re both going
to the same place anyway.

* * * * *

since when was love measured
in shipping costs?—when does
a packaged picture frame tell

how much he loves you?
will we ever get to that point?
will you and i measure our love

in dollars, dimes,
and credit card bills?;
student loan payments and

mortgages? will my love letters
ever become
bank statements?;

college funds?;
insurance co-pays for that night we spent
in the hospital because

you had to get your stomach pumped?
when will my roses to you be held
in a checkbook rather than a vase?

For Drew Tinnin

i remember nights when i said
i would conquer the world
and you said you would lift me up
so that i could see it all—
you dressed me in blue to blend in with the sky
while i dragged your swag from place to place.

we sang of the strains in the Ohio Valley
where you once earned your stripes
in hollowed brick buildings;
the sun always shined on you there
as ladies and men from all over our plains
met you with esteem, met with design
to emulate your charm.

we swore to always let the dampened minds
of those distraught to find our beacon:
a six-sided caster for those hopeful to take a ride upon
and see the world we built for them
(made of cement, leaflets, and colors)
until they could leap from the ride they garnered
and walk on their own.

i dreamt of taking in a good stiff Merlot
with you and others at hand:
we would laugh about those little wonders
whose heads we would cram with knowledge
of their lives ahead: how smoothly it would go down
as you in some Sanseic fashion would take
that gleaming whistling wonder from your pocket
and we would hear the clicks together
until our badges leapt through thin air.

this summer’s for you.

Summer:

your snores are the whirring
of the box fan in my open window—
nothing but inhalations;
no outward breaths.

A. Matthew Goodlock

your name, Nephew,
is too light for my mother
who spent her summers deep in the heart
of Mexico
where she had no roof—only the cover
of thin dry branches
and her prayers for no rain;
she wishes to dirty you up
in the dark unclean waters where
she and her sisters bathed.
even your brother—flesh like the blanket of fresh Traverse City snow—
wants to see a truer name—
a llamo
written on your birth certificate:
at age six even he knows that a name must match
a skin tone (or at least the heritage of one).

for them,
for me,
your name is now just a letter;
and as you sleep inside
my sister’s worn, teaming womb,
i make your middle name the only name
you will ever need—
the only name my grandfather
(your great-grandfather)
can rattle off in his Spanish-thick tongue.

A Phone Call on a Kitchen Floor

[2 May 2010—Midnight]

your concerns should not be
of my lips straying—
your worry should be
only of my hands:

the foreign hand you fear i grab
is a handle made of molded plastic
which holds a serrated steel blade;
each groove worn & rough
like any tawdry sex that i could have
while you are away.

the pair of breasts you dread i squeeze
is my protruding veins—how they pop
from my wrists and form a cleavage
where the heads & lips of only the bravest men
lie gently until they fall asleep.

the threshold you beg me not to penetrate
is a gash through the pale underside
of my arms: a lustful well dug
not for womanly moistness,
but for the rush of warm blood
like lava from my pulsing arteries—
pumping up & down like unfaithful hips.

the woman you wish i never hold
(at least not while i am out of sight)
has no flesh or curves for me to grope:
instead she seizes me and we dance about
to the beat of my resenting tears—
we stomp our feet to my quickening breath
until it fades softer-softer-softer-softer
& the song ends; i curl up on the floor
to—finally, somberly—rest
after this night of dismal selfish pleasure.

instead of semen, this climax comes with blood.

Of Courtyards

the humid air looms
up from the Trees in this
solemn, sunlit courtyard,
making the Breezes slow
and unkind—
the Bricks crack with time
and the spring rain
that corrodes them slowly;
the changing of the Seasons slip
in and out, shifting the air from utterly chilling
to thick and hard to breathe—
through a thousand Suns
and countless Moons
we see the Smoke rise from the stack
atop the ancient hollowed building:
the Ground holds the stuff of budding
that makes me ache for touching—
the fodder of Dreams.

Not Now; One Day

one day: i'll slip out this doorway
suddenly, unnoticed,
barred from any one line of dapper dress
and instead will face the outdoors
in mounds of blood.

one day: i'll call to the heartache
briefly, softly,
taking all i have from abrupt echoes
to spin myself through the breezes
without my body.

one day: i'll hear the trees sway
cunningly, swiftly,
creaking as they dig their tired roots
farther and father into the ground—
like my tired body.

Note

this lady will grab me
pull me rape me
until the crimson pours
from my bones.

she will keep pumping
until i am on the floor,
curled up, my hands in my thighs,
wet with dripping red.

she will use her finger
of cold sharp steel
to pin me down
until she sees it flowing.

she will flee as the door
opens, a crowd gathers 'round
my limp body, lying in a pool
of dark ruby.

i present the world with
my magnum opus:
a collaboration between me
and Death.