The Bull (revised)

The body that holds me: four walls,
more, ambitiously conceived
like the monster it was created to hold;
corpse to house the bastard of a cursed wife.

Sins of the stepfather ensured a body
large and wrong, born as a vessel
to hold his guilt. Stupid beast,
with horns for gouging and hands
for grasping like the most helpless of babes.

No mother’s milk, only meat hoarding marrow
like gold in loose soil, and to that end,
I crack the bones and explore the bounty:
Paths unnavigable but by a ball of twine,
impossible, lonely halls carrying blood.

I walk between the ribs of my cage,
and await a hero who seeks my taurine head,
my human heart. Do not be cowed, hero—
I am branded brute, but I am less than a man.


The fisher king speaks:

Five million breaths each year
and though they are hungry, ragged,
I keep nothing from the barren land;
it knows my body starves.
Impotent and desperate, I fish.
My daughter and the king's man I tricked,
knowing their physical union
would bring he who'd heal the land.
In scheming this, I full earned my sore.
Grandfather'd and maimed, I fish.
The wound, not voluntary, never healed,
and could not be borne easy;
but patience is bought with water,
and held like communion in grails.
Wounded but rich, I fish.

I deduct and adequate the verse.
I subordinate my thoughts to language.
I fasten the stars and sing loose gravel,
ties to bind my frenzy like embraces
cleverly knotted by the Nemeans
and strangled bare by sanish hero.
I drip like lyme stolen from caves
and nostalgic for the touch of water:
dry, dry, dry in physique but, god,
wet in the mind and in memory.
I ripen and embrangle the notion.
I obsess the achene. Juiced, I parch.



First without asking he took my hand
and though it was strange to see him
as a man, the motion was not accidental—
nor the lack of question unintentional.
Whip—the thing that imposed itself,
that first night-wing’d kernel of thought:
“This hand is too hot,” and it dropped
from dull phalangeal pressure
to the cavities in my throat. I swallow.

My whole body burns from blush
and the encumbrance at my side
runs red with fever, torture which relies
on trembling in sticky digits to remind me
that I have already attempted escape.
Instinct! Sentences extend and I hang
like accessory fruit or flattered reptiles;
a dull retort, barbed by keen-edged smile
as to slice. In terror, I gentle the words.

I find absolution in the purplish stain
under his ear, as though power were
couched in my teeth. When he touches
my sterile ribs, does it leave a bruise?
Or is the flaw deeper, fingerprints cleaved
permanently into skin, the whorl of identity
bone-deep and scarring? I slant my eyes,
as though in movement they might find you.


The Nature of Promise

What bold sun does to afternoon:
Evaporates slim golden flanks
In spillways where sun’s rays are hewn
By silver waves and concrete banks;

What moon does to the morning sky,
Hanging unseen behind sun’s rays:
It watches mountains crumble, shy,
And in repose it sinks away;

Fat bluegill dart behind the reeds
Like fingers parting folds of skirt,
Never departing, full of greed,
But, in their lust, they are alert;

Like bream and sun and hiding moon,
My body will hold fast to you.


After Life

Legends of hell are typically
tragic: the child of the harvests
was abducted from Sicily,
from her mother’s own loam,
ate four seeds and was damned.
As for the underworld, one might
call it Hel, Hades, Mag Mell,
Abbadon, or Annwn: hell is hell.
Persephone, Queen of the Dead,
lies by Virgo; banished from dirt,
she has learned that damnation
is nameless, and discovers it
in the yawning of creation,
the expansive, tragic nature of stars.
Her serfs exist in the space between
the sun and its corona. The vacuum
collects souls and greets them
with the emptiness of sunbeams
and the heat of solar flares. The dead
and the gods breathe in the
plasmatic atmosphere of stars.


Horst P. Horst

Long thin neck of vase,
ten fingers on hands,
countless white petals
from dark stamen.
Liquid dark like blood
sits heavy in the wide
bulb of the vessel;
dark nails, slim wrists
continue to an elbow;
grasp with the left,
graze with the right.
Light shines through
glass between arms,
over flowers arranged
to shroud the shoulders.
Woman--Lisa Fonssagrieves--
ducks down, reaches up;
series of prepositions,
trying to get the angle
just right. Put
the light here. Place
the flower there. Cage
your arms around it
like this. Hide your face.
What I want in this shot
is your hands. Good, Lisa.


water/the ship/the pearl revisited

Water is made of light;
the atmosphere spoils and congeals,
and drags sunbeams down
as it falls to the ocean.

Ships and their victories stay above the water, while if all goes well the pearl stays below. If the pearl and the ship ever meet, it is a victory for the ship and a travesty for the pearl.

The ocean is the heart of the earth.
Full of waste with blood like water,
it pumps life to its limbs.
Watersheds rise and hurricanes come,
but still the sea moves.

Three lines written near a tidepool:
Movement, bodies crash
The ocean, the salt, the sand
Clarity, cut, light

An old folktale:
two lovers, a flood
between stars.
The cowherd prays.
The princess weaves.
The magpies bring
a bridge; “we
can give you
just one night.”

The ship tears the pearl from its home. Ships are to the moon as pearls are to the ocean; ships gather pearls, and upon the whim of the moon, the water moves.

If I am the ocean then
you are the moon and
I’m constantly moved by
the phases of you.

the wave
does not break
‘til it cannot move.

You were furious,
you were boiling;
you left me
with naught but salt.

the moon gathers the tide and, upon the whim of the ship, the pearl moves.