The darkness all around
makes the dim light brighter.
at the bus depot
for refugees and outsiders
about to go out further.
She selects a male partner,
selects fruit from the vendor,
she selects someone
to take to a room
with a bed or a chest or a window
overlooking a shaft-way.
Could she really have known him already?
Not a lick. Not a bit. With shirts off
not-knowing. With sad-eyed standing.
The feeling is sapped from the feeling
And that’s what they’re holding,
Illegal, at 4 a.m., in a room from a silent movie.
Not filthy, just gray -
so that all the Technicolor of his body
is translated into the smoothness of his skin.
This title is taken from a poem by Mary Jo Bang.
I’m looking at the water, suspended, unable to move.
There’s smog on either side of the bridge, pollution shimmering. On one side are the Centers for Peace Studies, their Research Programs. On the other side are the grocery stores. I do want groceries.
I want to stop the war, but I’ve been consumed with so many things. All of the small actions that go into this. All of the preparing food and eating it. All of the dressing and undressing. Not just showering, but singing in the shower. Laundry.
Small actions in direct opposition to the thoughts of the Research Centers. This cooking and then eating dinner in front of the TV. Not watching satire, watching a singing competition.
I want to walk deeply into the darkness, nude as a god, through the self into the darkness.
I want to blow up the Law with Language, having run my tongue around my mouth ten thousand times. Instead of not speaking, I want to speak.
I know when there’s been an uninvited guest,
when we’ve been infiltrated.
Before opening the door I sense the pest,
my whole mood adulterated.
We must ask him back! I’ve got something boiling on the stove. Potatoes
glop up to the surface, fish heads.
Let me get my ruffled apron with the pallid paisley, my
my steel spoons with their skull insignias, my little
hunchback way of getting the door.
Darling, would you fix our guest another drink – cracked glass,
split lip, salted rim.
I am prepared. Hostess - pinched. Linoleum - waxed.
What was frizzy,
greasy, stacked and cinched, now hidden in low light
and a blast of Pledge.
Don’t mind the crackling of tiny feet along the walls,
the black boxes,
the silver platter with the wooden stake, the crucifix
hovering over the sideboard.
Coming in through the window? Looking for some electronica,
a gold watch,
A powdered donut to make your mouth
Stay. We’d love to have your head.
I wake on the train to find
Blood drenching my shirt.
I don’t want it,
I ask not to receive it,
That which is given to me.
The forces on the ground
The rhetoric in headphones
All around. Compulsively, I rule
What falls to my jurisdiction.
I nodded off feeling ill
And wake dying -
I had given up praying, meditative
Walking, reading, dreaming.
I was given
The abandoned man
And his stench on the church steps.
I don’t have my wallet, forgot it,
No keys and no phone
But I have access to a direct line
That runs to whatever it is
Voices gurgling, pleading, bubbling
Along the line –
I’ll pick it up one more time.
He died. He died. The Voice of Voices came to me “There shall be no sign.”
His death has been scraped out of my body, the anesthesia, cold, running into my arm. Climbing into a cab, his death has bled through my clothes.
His death has visited me as I sat with a cup of tea in my bed, the bed clothes asking to be washed. Stirring lovely, golden onions in the kitchen, his death has knocked the spoon from my hand.
His death has been my attention on the bowl of soup before me. Reading is halting, as his death calls to me from the next room.
His death has broken the routine of my bathing, my grooming. In the stainless steel basin of the sink, his death lies throbbing.
I am sitting at the window and his death is whitening the glass. I turn to work and his death has taken my chair. A suit of clothes, (my vestments, my royal garments!) lies draped there. I know I won’t wear these clothes again.
's first book of poems, Having Been an Accomplice, won the 2011 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and is forthcoming from Persea Books. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Barrow Street, Ecotone, WSQ, The Best American Poetr,y and The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel. She works at the New School Writing Program in Manhattan and curates the Monday Night Poetry Series at KGB Bar.