American Parenthesis: That which we house in bottles would in any other case get thee just as drunk.

He never needed god
because (and who
is god in any case)
he was capable of
great love (and true love
in any case)
without outside assistance
(he never called in any case).
He consumed his
lovers, as though they were
small plastic (or for
consumption, in any case).
He said, "Get thee
to a sweatshop."
His palms felt fat
and hot but who could care?
(You would not in any case.)
His night's fast broke--
his anger broke--
his fever did not break.
(The drugs he took were wrong,
in any case). He said, "Get thee
to a crackhouse." A name, he felt,
was a sort of resignation
(wherefore art thou in any case)
after saying it the first time;
unless signed, it was not
something you could touch,
like god who he did (and who
is god in any case) not need,
and so he never called anyone
(god or you in any case)
by resignation or by name.
A natural grin (teeth in any case)
perched not upon his face.
A natural fever crept hot around this place.
(He perched and crept, in any case.)
He said, "Get thee
to a nunnery." ("Go,"
he did not say but howled.
"Go," he said in any case.)


Okay, then I will buy you this book.
It's a strong book, maybe, or the
cheapest one they had. Who knows
why I chose this one over another?
(I do: the cover reminded me of your skin,
the pages reminded me of your hair,
the poems reminded me of your cunt.)


I do the things I do inspired; you know it.
I love you; soon, your ears will know it.

We adore fresh words in our mouths,
but news is only new until you know it.

Pronomial: as by specifying a person, place,
or thing, so that even in words you might know it.

The artless are jealous of your blue skies,
of the heart and eyes that let you know it.

I know the wind and know the cold. And
I know you and how you're bold; I know it.

Know me from Adam? In my loins, for one,
there is an ache: Thirst. I'm sure you know it.

Drop like flies: there is a collective strength
in our swatters, and they must all know it.

(So, to land a blow, she said, "I give
myself to you; it seems you never know it.")


"Untitled," Muriel Castanis, 1990. Cloth, epoxy.

There is wool over my eyes,
or linen,
or papier-mâché

And though it does not block
the light, I
leave it where it lays.

I am taken outside the limit
of my arms,
of my epoxy skin.

There are no stains, no blemishes
to suggest

As though I had bathed in buttermilk,
poured it over
my head and closed my eyes.

(This was when I still could see,
when I blocked out
sun and water on my own.)

I am flying, one hand outstretched,
the other
laid flat against my side,

as though I were making my way
through water,
through clouds, through deficiency

and deformity, through every freckle I could
have developed.
Not carved in marble--draped over air.

What they don't tell you about me,
about us,
is that our condition is common.

This ache in my back from holding still
is womanly.
The strength in my arm, held out

eternally, is a feminine strength.
The cloth sealed
across my eyes is a maidenly wound.


Jesus, you miss the way a good Virginia strawberry tastes, red and ripe and about ready to burst. This is how you eat a good Virginia strawberry: First, you pick it yourself. This is essential. It has to be exactly the right strawberry, and you'll know because maybe its seeds won't quite cover its flesh. (And boy, does a good Virginia strawberry have just the right amount of flesh.) The right strawberry is blushing and hot in the sun, but since you're hot too, it'll almost feel cool against your lips. Second, put it right up against your mouth. This is the best part; try not to use too much tooth. Pull the meat onto your tongue. When was the last time fruit tasted like this? Groan, if you need to, but don’t let anything drop from your lips. The juice will run down your chin and collect in the hollow of your throat, but you’ll purse your lips against the meat and try to drink it all. (A good Virginia strawberry is juicy first, and sweet second.) You'll want to mouth against it like you've starved for years, flicking your tongue against it like you're speaking Spanish; strawberries are perfectly contoured for our mouths, as though the earth knew that we would want to eat them. (If you eat enough, you'll begin to believe that good Virginia strawberries were what mouths were made for.) Third, throw the stem to the ground and mourn that the moment is over. Lick your fingers in desperation. You will want to seek another strawberry, but, deep in your belly, you'll feel your first and crave it more than anything. It is only in this moment that you'll truly understand what it is to taste.