I knew a Swedish man
Whose little brother hanged himself
In a nearby tree, and whose
First love died of cancer
Over a weekend.
But he's a sailor and
Works it out in crawlways
Under the waterline.
I like that machines are still slappable,
That a skipping CD player can be
And a whining fan can be silenced
With a blow to the chassis.
Network connections fade and
Swell with our daily tide,
Hard drives crash, mice drag
Dirty balls over our desks,
Programs go down on us
Impulsively and suck in content
Silence. And you can still aim
Your car for a concrete abutment.
Her head is clutchable and
Not too full for laughing.
She waits me out each night,
Feeds me with enough food,
Reminds me, and still leaves
Cookies under the tree.
She smells of someone
I loved for a second
In a stairway and in
Her mother's living room.
Dog balls on carpet,
Dog balls on linoleum,
Dog balls slung at the door.
Someone should paint them,
One red, one white.
He needs to catalogue mice under underground tracks,
The blue glow through windows at night, tourists holding
Multilingual electronic guides to ears around Stonehenge,
A pacemaker pulsing in a dead man, the light over cities
Without stars, car alarms noising unanswered in car parks,
The homely secrets of computer passwords, the layers
Of mechanism separating thought from words, the netted
World set out in longhand.
She likes to fuck, and think on it,
Think back on it, curl around
A fuck spent again. Her bone
Lungs rib along the flesh of
Flesh surprised upwards.
The other is the table
Where she sits and
Wishes for fucking over
And outside, flocks of burbs,
Falls remembered, wishes
Catastrophe on grass.
I have found my distance
On a piece of the land
Where people speak through me
Knowing I do not understand them
And expecting the same of me,
Where uncles not my uncles
Shake hands briefly and move on,
Where shopkeepers smile at the
Nice foreign man,
Where I can retire my smile and my hands
At night and anoint my head
And write out my day.
I had given up being able to notice
The smell of snot and taste of spit,
The sound of nothing moving,
But here you are, in ink wiped.
Good enough for entrance
To the club
Overhead, where men
When they die, we're lost
For words they deserve,
Those marvelous beasts
Shot with lucky arrows
And scattered to trees.
We cannot bleed them
For inventiveness, the
Child's machine we wind in lieu
Of something over,
Just past our ordinary,
Where the huntsman whips
Dogs through morning.
They have become the leaves,
And frost furred,
And the steam of our mouths.
The concert-goers leave their coats in heaps
And step in twos and threes of laugh and smell,
And stand and gabble past the final bell,
Then hill their hairy domes along the deeps.
They sniff and jangle keys and foil sweets
And whisper over notes slipped underhand;
They wonder when to clap and when to stand,
And roar while others roar, and crack their seats.
Worn down by waiting for an hour, they thrill
To see the moist conductor turn and bend;
They bravo for three encores and the end,
Then race for coats and hats and silent chill.
Behind the hall, the players smoke and curse
And pop their old Suzukis in reverse.
I would not go to mumbling and the slaps
Of flat-shoed nurses in the halls of clean
To be outlived and breathed by some machine
That regulates my pulse through twisted taps.
I would have been libraried but for toil,
The artery they let to ease the pain
Of uselessness, slipped down a thickened drain
And plucked with curled hair and human oil.
Fat freighter out from dock to dwindling brink
Trawls veins of swelling blue for staring catch,
Comes nothing up for dragging this old patch,
Aims for the sun into the endless sink.
They suck their life from hydrogen
And manage to produce a skin;
Pretty, if you're one of them.
In America, all is monkey fur,
Erectile, waiting for the next attack.
The papers from San Simian concur;
The world would slip in through an open crack.
I could not push the clock around its sphere
And let the rest of you inspect your ale
Alone and drizzling down your soggy tale;
We must prefer the salt of someone near.
At night he spins a cutting tooth through dross
And winds up threads of silver by the mile,
Then throws his shining work upon a pile
And hands his finished piece to dwarfing boss.
The thing that I believe must sound in here,
Among the polished icons and the bells,
Like pulling nuns from solitary cells
To you, who hold eternity so dear.
We could grow thick in love out in this fresh,
Around this hollow apple tree this spring,
But we would need, and need would turn to flesh,
And sun would split to orange autumning.
A cat in fancy dress, girled up in gown,
Looks through the wall and focuses on trees
Where birds invite the curve of summer ease
Sunk in the lawns along the greening down.
The birds of dawn are gray but sing
Just when you think sleep needs to come
Fold your book and stretch your drum
For beating to the tune of wakening
I was no use under cars;
I aimed the light and looked
For three-quarter sockets,
While he lay under tons
She could burn a chop or
Set fire to our kitchen
(Twice) while she was in the
Garden reading. (Firemen
Chasing alarms.) No more
Love than this could I give.
We are mechanical in deed.
In this, maniacal, we seed,
And bare the breed.
Imagine this roll of cat
Spread on my chest and
Watching my eyes,
Daring me to read when
Necks are for kneading.
She is like that, too.
Books for burning
When you're cold;
There's no sinning
When you're old.
Here is warm
In the bird
Feathered on an unsprung branch
Snow all along the air
I stuff my mornings into lumps of cheese
Descended from a milk-infecting race
A legless breed that could not fall from grace
Slung clotted in the jars of its disease.
I could watch a goose
Spread toes in mud, and
Listen: this is air
Pushed past the shelled rasp.
My air is full tonight of the thick black
Layered everydirt, of work on my father
When he would come home. Boots
Peeled off (by us!) and dinner spread for
All around. Some mother.
We were scattered by noise. We dragged
Cheap diamonds into sound and danced;
A television was slappable, fuzzy, on
Skinny legs in the corner, but hard metal,
Black, filamented, glowing orange.
A kiss, good night. We swallowed the
Mold of the woods and slipped away.
Some rotten skinny girl with swollen tits
Bends down with shirt undone to the absurd.
She'd catch her pleasure in your open mouth
(What would you like today?)
Along the zip between her north and south.
She lives on smiles and arcing eyes incurred,
And bundles home with change plucked from the chits.
The mittful girls,
With father's farthings,
Pushed through nicely
And found their men,
All fascists, to their taste.
It kicks through the skin
This swimmer inside,
A deep diver surfacing
With no bother, with no one noticing but me,
She tucked in the tag that was sticking
Up from the neck of my cheap shirt
And let me walk a little less absurdly
Through the party. For only that, I'm
Warmer and stupid-eyed.
The president would war on orient
And set a fractious people on one side
While other business tumbles on the tide
Beneath the sight of justices intent;
Would raise a flag streaked red and blackened blue
Above the circled camp on suburbed grass
And paint a miracle through which to pass
A clutch of shifted rule defined anew:
A law to make the dog inspect its bitch,
The owl to bring each mouse before the hawk,
Each mouse to stand and wait on open rock,
And fish to string a net across the ditch.
The president would bundle war with life
And spread sweet butter with a carving knife.
Accidentally on nuthouse grounds,
We went quietly; wouldn't want to
The girl holds back what she would say,
Curlings letters, mile by mile,
Till I crack the lock and smile
On what she has done today.
The doctor digs beneath the flesh,
Seeks each cell's apology
For ancients sins aired fresh.
The genius of the garden would
Crouch on a board
Under paper wasp lanterns
With tomatoes and Dickens
And bring the trees close for listening.
A long time ago, the Indian Reservation
Stood between home and school.
Our mother would drive us down the thin
Roads that whirled through close trees.
Up past the fork, in giant white letters
Housepainted across the asphalt:
EAT CUNT RAG
I had only the vaguest inkling what this
Cunt thing might be, in a theoretical sense.
I knew what it wasn't.
I had no idea what the rag part meant.
I think I pictured a sort of loincloth. This
Was about the time she was reading
To me about Gunga Din, and Tarzan
Was always on weekend television,
And here we were on the Reservation.
She never commented, always looked
Straight ahead, and I certainly didn't ask.
We would dig a hole between the roots
And slide limp Spotter or Spotty or
Fatter or Skinner or Grayzer or Lipper or
Blackie or Whitey or Orangey or Big Kitten or
Little Kitten or Girly or Boise or Stripey or
Hairy or Squinty or Weirdy or Strangey or
Mother or another handful of unnamed new
Fluff under earth, under stone. Their cages are
Thoroughly collapsed by now, infinitely unpurred.
But I can tell you more about most of them than
About Uncle Joe, who may have had a last name.
I picked a rounded flea
From itching skin
And burst the enemy
And pictured sin.
A flesh released from cell
Of natural love
Split down the hardened bell
By clutch above.
Keats spat red some night on sheets
And gave up thinking thousand-lined relief in stone-cut form:
No more to wander through the greening glades
Pursued by ancient wonders, stepping shades.
Cockney boy put down and counted pence
For passage to romantic eminence.
Out in Duckville
Paddlers round the puddle.
While we wait for an obvious bus
Ducks laugh and turn up tails.
I would splice your arteries to my own,
Receive that flood that sets your throat to groan,
Dilute the swollen Ganges of your veins
And dip my face into your tide of pains.
I was double-breasted
Till the blade
Undressed me bare
Nothing grows in our green window box
But birdseed sprouted; still, it's good to think
Of life escaped the beak and past the brink,
Sun-swallowing through rails and crusted locks.
The girl who pours this warmish beer
Is legged long and small of ear,
Nippled north but sneakered south,
Wandered up from lip to mouth,
Ingredient of flattish dreams
Quaffed and belched along the seams.
Tobacco is the burst of man in breathing
Exhaled from lungs grown full with words unspent,
Retrieved from circled clouds spun in a tent,
A death delayed for distant thinking teething.
Monkeys walk through knuckle town
And burst through teeth
And snort through frown.
People waist their girth through gown
And bare fixed smiles
And buckle down.
The snot wiped on the bathroom walls
Reminds us why we piss in stalls.
Here in love, I kiss your fattened lips
Crunch your lungs and stroke your throat.
Wherein, love, I dip unfathomed depths,
Sound the beast, and worry the boat.
When she was fucked and snoring,
I put a hat on her
And stuck a stuffed monkey
Under her arm,
And sang about lost love
In the shower.
Here's the picture.
On the seventh day
He scratched his nuts
And scratched his nut tripartite
And had no idea.
We bought a crippled pony,
Gave him a long reprieve
To chew grass and grain.
He stepped and stood,
Big beasted, thick furred,
With marvelous curled toes,
Eating circles in the lawn.
But time is rotten.
A neighbor with a digger
Holed a grave near the trees
And I and our veterinarian
Led the sore pony to the edge.
I held him, talked into his look,
Smoothed his name across his face.
The nailish needle hit blood.
His eyes were round before
He went over into grass
I lay on my back and gently
Thighed his mass into tumble.
Down on the farm
Death is not unusual,
But our Mr Weatherall
Is on antidepressants
And has given up the family bed.
And our Mr better-not-to-say
Has swung his young frame from a tree.
There's a wide cordon around the farm,
Sheep shot on sight,
And visitors are obliged
To wipe their boots in
In the church where the village was,
Homily dwells on the lamb,
But the madness has fled to the lesser beasts,
And they're heaping the swine on a pyre.
I've seen our Bluebird, over and over,
In black and white;
How it glazed dark Coniston Water
When we were young of a January,
And shot to a speed we all hung on,
Before climbing, turning, exploding.
Divers down, more than a lifetime,
Have brought up now a charge from the depth,
No longer aluminium, but
Something changed and brazed with hope
And water walking.
Where are we when we sleep
And our tongues wander and our
Throats open, laughing at
Jokes we never hear,
And falling down the chortle?
That laugh, I never hear
When she's wandering sockfooted
Among the debris of day.
She smothers herself
With a pillow at midnight
And winds her body in the sheets
And walks out somewhere
I am not.
Down from the, down
From the hang of the
Long branches, light-fingered,
Toes spreading. Wide-eyed
Jumping at grasshoppers,
Spreadfurring high suns,
Picking the good nits,
Lungs sucking heat from sunbeams crosscut with dust.
Round-earing bird calls,
Puzzling through ant parasols,
Footprint in handholding,
Leap for the trees.
My father fell from leaves of steel
Sprung up from noxious mixtures.
His flesh was real through air to fall
And medicated raptures.
When I consider how my light is spent,
It ain't so bad. My women stand and wait,
And serve me breakfast, soft yolks on the plate,
While I rail on until their ears are bent.
In the fridge,
Mossed cottage cheese
Vibrates with the plump
Parakeets on the shelf.
The game was in the loft
And catch, the clutch and release,
Ourselves alone. Our muscles set
To single purpose, eyes on the
We soaped ourselves
As disinterestedly as
Women cleaning floors,
And ran for towels
And looked at the
Numbers on our locks.
I checked my tits
In the bathroom mirror
And went out wondering
Who might see my sex
Through my shirt, small
Fruit on a skinny tree,
Embarrassment of nipples.
We fell in love through dips of time
Bubbling up through burdens
And worked a dog into the plot
Which give us room for stroking fur
And pleasuring the beast
In decent company.
Under the Roman volcano
They lapped their lips
And lipped their laps
But we bury their dead with
Words slid between teeth.
Swimming with a neighbor,
We spun a backyard pool round
Faster, concaved the surface,
And never luckily caught one another.
Each inch of wind
Was full of snow
I built myself
A bus stop snowman
Out of dumb hat
Red nose split
Cold grin gloves
Stuck on stiff twigs
The sparrow welds sharp clutch to bough
And watches into wind for paws
And whiskers slipped through shadowed flaws,
Stiff tail flicked patiently till now.
I watched rockets
Pop from red snow
And kids ignore