The Dope Sea Urchin


A piece of glass; a prose poem
she told the story of god, the one about the golden vessel and how it cracked; and before she could get to the part that explains it i imagined the bits of gold were surely the stars and moons and suns. if the world isnt a piece of glass that cuts, reflects, and obscures, then tell me how you were able to do it. sometimes when i am horizontal and the tears stream from the outer corners of my eyes and pool in the conches of my ears i remember how we would sit by the pond:  you were so careful with your tending to the arrow lilies; other times i wonder if i might go deaf from the water gathering there. i told him youre off the table:  you see, i am selfish now. i dont want to share you, not with anyone who would have a hand in shaping the way i remember you. walking up the stairs to the hotel room i knew i had stayed long in town deliberately:  if i ran blindly, made deaf by my own sorrow and my ears catching rain toward the dying sea, could i hear my own voice or would it just be a feeling, an advancing and quickening scrape along the follicles of my throat and the acrid taste of my own stomach heaving windy through my mouth? you had a dream on your sailboat one afternoon, all alone on the sound and the sunset turned the sky to gold:  you would fall in love and have two children, your work would be rewarding, and you would never die. one day, upon deciding what next to create, god picked up a handful of sand and blew hot breath onto it and turned it to glass. god blew the glass until it formed a sphere and placed what was most important inside of it. upon deciding what next to create, god placed the sphere on the edge of the workbench:  it was so fragile it barely made a sound when it rolled off and shattered.

Even beauty gets in the way
I wanted to write about you, but
I have the last bit
of a beautiful song in my head–
all my life
I thought I’d change:
and for a moment
(for now)
as if in church
and I’m beside you
and it sounds like angels

The God of Water
They’re called Sea Angels,
nearly microscopic they fly
beneath the ice
in the waters near Japan.

I imagine them
a fluid, gliding
each their own design
and distinct yet innumerable

and that maybe
we’ve got it flipped–
it’s the sky’s reflection:
we’ve been searching and insisting
for god
with craned necks

doing everything we do
at the beneficence
of water.

Dark Dark Moon
it’s all too terribly sad–
is it?
even the midwinter sun?

a kind of hammer
and grappling hook with the rope
carefully coiled
and set beside fresh dug earth
around the manhole cover
looked terribly out of place
in the forest.

they were both wearing jackets–
and then all of a sudden
the little one began to growl and whine
i said to the owner:
she’s friendly
and she strode past me
the big ones paw at him
and he just gets so terribly upset by it.

(before sleep last night
i tried coaxing ocean dreams:
with me as the starfish and you
the dope sea urchin)

The Wolf (inspired by Galway Kinnell’s The Bear)
Lean muscles
cling to bone
and enunciate the wildness
of each articulated step

you are

returned to me

bone of my bone
fibrous flesh of you
is flesh unto me

we are one in our mourning

whittlesome bones the cages
made one
to the other,
you are

pacing hungrily,

haunting determined
as the skin lines and thins

with age
wondering as we do
after that poetry


Dream Tigers (for Tom)
and why should it strike me–
above all this mechanical tongue thrashing
bone on bone ground down to the fine vapor
and spittle of drunks in the afternoon
that we’ve never dreamed the same dream?

shoulder points rounding out
the long thin back flesh
every step a bewildering display
of animal musculature

there are people
who detail their own dreams:
I start with our skeletons
choosing carefully from the litter of bones
and teeth carved for gnashing

Dream Houses
I fell asleep w/ a poem
in my mouth
and in the morning I dreamt
of a big brick house

and it was wrapped around
and tucked inside
a swath of baobab trees

I can’t remember the words,
though it was quite short–
something like:

You can’t possibly be gone,
not entirely.
From my position on the back deck
the pond is just slightly
to the left
I don’t even have to close my eyes–
you’re there
off to the right
seeing to the arrow lilies.

Thinking of Tom Waits Songs Upon Waking
In that lucid way:
the way that only comes in the early morning
and between dreams
I watched the sun rise
over the sharp angles of the neighbor’s roof
and the blanketed bodies
of man and dogs;
the colors opaque and bright
even with my eyes closed–
and I was driving, retracing miles of road
on the way to Mount Shasta.

Long before you died
we sat beside one of the biggest trees
in late summer
and slapped our arms and legs
like old pros at the killing
of insignificant things, and planned our trips.
Mexico, Argentina, Greece.

I was in the backyard
letting the birch tendrils tickle me
when you told me you had cancer.

I was on the floor, face down and screaming
when she told me you hung yourself.

It can’t end there,
even though I want it to
I woke myself from the part
where I was walking through what felt familiar
and also of my own design
to watch the sun
and the sky,
the angles of rooftops and power lines,
the soft bodies of crows
and my sleeping family.

Many times throughout the day
I am enchanted
by myself–
as though coming to,
and having been away for a spell,
and the walls of my skin
dissolve into crisp and effervescent
my ears release me forth into symphony and my eyes
roll back through heartwood;
and oh, all the small notions
seen through as though gossamer
and reflecting light.
I am no longer incredulous
that any of this is here;
I am no longer ambivalent–
I see you in everything.

I see you in everything.

Winter, Spring
I found an old poem,
hand-stamped letter by letter
and I think
I must have always loved trees

and even if in gesture alone
you are in every one–

But mostly when I long for you
I imagine us sitting
beside the birch–

and we don’t even have to say a word
we just know:
this tree,
with its rough paint-peel bark,
is the most beautiful tree

and the birds come

and they sing of God

and we just look on, listening
saying nothing.

Manchester By The Fucking Sea

I got drunk on the plane
and watched the first half
of a movie about a man
whose older brother dies of congestive heart failure

it’s told in a way
that ping pongs between
the present and the past
and at some point
in the past
the man inadvertently sets his house on fire

there’s a rather
gratuitous scene of firemen
carrying the blanket-covered bodies
of the man’s three small children
out of the wreckage
long after they’d put the fire out

the man and his brother
who’s not yet died
just stand there
not crying
just looking defeated

and I thought to myself
I know more about pain
than you ever will, fucker
my memory of that morning
hasn’t changed in over two years
and by my own logic
it never will

the hole I made in the floor
with the force of my mouth
pressed against it,
my screams shattering the hard wood
and concrete foundation
and all the layers of earth
goes straight to molten core

the policemen who kept your suicide note
for weeks, as evidence,
well, I’ve killed them a thousand times
in as many different ways
and sometimes now
I do it just for fun

before I got on the plane
I waked down to the beach
and watched the water lap the sand,
they’d poured your ashes
into the Peconic
and so I talked to you

I always talk to you
but at that moment you felt closer
and the tide was high with
the fullness of the moon
and it felt like conversation

in hindsight
the movie is garbage.
maybe it’s all garbage.
because who wants to watch an old man
who was once a young man
that got sick
and sicker
and became old
and drove himself into town one night
to hang himself
in the basement of his music store?




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