fruit (20191017)

my mother used a paring knife
slipped it in under the stem
like an assassin
and spun the blood red strawberry
in one motion
twisting out unwanted green leaves
then used the same knife to slice
small rings that radiated white to pink
to red
dropping them in a bowl
no two slices the same size

i use a tool like a tiny melon-baller with teeth
designed to gouge out the stem
little waste but more than my
mother would approve of (or leave)
with her small knife

it is a convenience

as is the strawberry slicer
humorlessly designed to resemble
a strawberry (insert a
stop cutting yourself joke here)
maybe so i won’t try to use it
to slice olives or golf balls
every piece is the same width
except for the end pieces
which sometimes get stuck
between the blades
or the bottom of the tray

our recipes differ in the application
of sweetener
i think she used a quarter cup of sugar
for every basket of strawberries she sliced
i am less generous and use maple sugar
trying to keep things less processed
(though sugar is sugar)
i don’t use two pints of half and half
though sometimes i sneak in some
almond milk (unsweetened)

we agree on using pie crust as a superior
supporter for its texture to sponge cake
and really, sponge cake?

i think about those pictures of
brains, images as slices, PET or CAT scans
(not all pets are cats,
but are all CATs PETs?
is this where the
syllogism breaks?)

what did her images look like?

i clean red stains from my fingers

once her memories were gone
were the lobes smooth
the crenellations filled in
like a smooth coating of chocolate
hiding the pits
and seeds in the skin of the strawberry
each a potential synapse where
a memory haunted like a little ghost

i measure my head
against the bed of the slicer
i might be able to fit an eyeball in there
just in time for halloween

exoskeletal echo (20190921)

beneath the dry soil
water-smoothed rocks
the ground exhales
a fine cloud of dust
as you excavate

i found once
the desiccated remains
of a hungry ghost
translucent and as white
as the moon
in the morning sky

it had eaten its fill
and moved on to bigger
hopefully better things
though
what does a ghost eat
besides the memories
and the breaths of the living

in close up, the peach pit looks like a crater pocked moon (20190827)

let us go then
you and i while
this little light
fails in caution tape stipes
of yellow against green
yellowing grass

everything rolls up
in the egg roll
layer by layer
by layer
like a handroll
with krab, avocado
and mermaid meat
easy on the shoyu

the dog pants
the dogs pant
the dog’s pants

the table etherized patient
has 100,000 miles
of arteries and veins
stretched tightly
when plucked
the vibration is invisible to
the human eye
the sound so high
it cannot be heard
except by resonance
in the blood

cheering you up, part two (20190726)

run a needle through
grains of sand like beads
sand from my eyes
no sunny beach
the needle exits every
where there is an eyelash

this is sleep

when you die
depending on the mortuary
or the mortician i suppose
they will plug your throat
and sew your mouth closed
to keep the last notes of your
last song
from scaring the folks staring
at your mummified remains

your eyes will be velcroed shut
not exactly velcro
instead they’ll use an eye cap
a contact lens covered in spikes
to keep your eyelids in place

run me through a meat grinder
and feed me to the shelter dogs
someone at least
will not go hungry for one single meal

there is no part one

a feather the weight of the sun–20190718

i push into you
pass through you like
that episode of star trek

–which one?–

where a transporter accident
causes the crew to phase into
a parallel dimension
but still they manage to
keep their feet on the
floor of the ship

–which one?–

how do ghosts do it?
pass through walls
yet move on a slightly curved path
that ties them to the earth
like regret or obsession
is just another word for gravity

like destiny is another word for density

the stuffed birds in the taxidermist’s window
forever open their beaks
forever expand their throats in song
for never fly again

without mediation, wolf takes matters into his own hands–20191201

only his head
is big enough
to fit inside

–you have a problem, wolf says

he takes a long drag
the cigarette coal glows and dies
like a highway patrol car’s lights

–you think time only moves
in one direction

–you’re hung up on a metaphor
time is a river, you think
once you pass over a spot
it’s gone forever

i push my back against
the dry cave wall

wolf followed me here through the rain
worst storm in fifty years
now his coat is ragged and sopping
while i have a small fire
a bundle of sticks

i beat him to the cave
by all rights
i get dibs on shelter

he gets the storm

–it’s all good

he spits the butt into my tiny flames

–i’ll be back ten minutes ago

signs and portents of the new year, 2019 written on the last day of 2018

a dead man
appears to me in a dream
shuffling from side to side
grinning sheepishly
he apologizes
for dying
and leaving things
undone

a blue bag of dog shit tied
to the leash
swings in and out
of a cone of light
like a censer
during mass

beads of sap
from the latest tree trimming
glisten like globes of glass
on the sidewalk

a broken mirror
shaped like a child’s drawing
of a house
turned such that i
cannot see my reflection
only the silver sheen
of light

two owls in the night
one invisible, screeching
a second, caught in the beam
of my flashlight
frozen like a ghost projected
against the night sky
silent

postcardia (20181221)

take my heart

find it weightless

i have emptied it
day by day
scraping away
the inside lining
with bloody fingernails
pounding flat the walls
with bruised fists
burnishing the
paper-thin membrane
with my palms
until my bones
have shown through
the skin

weigh my heart on your scale
it is empty and without weight
your feather will drag
the balance down
to strike the floor
resounding like a gong

nothing in my heart

your hand may pass through it
as if through mist or
a rainbow’s shadow

o dog-headed god
watch as my heart rises
it will ascend
watch it ascend
let it ascend

restoration hardware (20181124)

let the lies
be truths
the ink blood
skin words
write yourself
write your grievances
on sheets
where the darkness
laid its head
and found
momentary peace

a single chord
works in all keys
your fingering’s right
but the string
still buzzes
frets are just headstones
hiding bones
let them find
momentary peace

i have momentarily
made peace
with weakness
cravenness  a close ally
shrugging my shoulders

 

your fourth dead body (20180521)

your fourth dead body
lies in state on sunday
on pillars before a home
a house on a busy main street
still sleepy on sunday afternoon
not a funeral home
just a house and no crowd of mourners
but three modestly
well-dressed people
gathered behind the coffin

it’s a few blocks
from that taco shop you want to try

post obedience
involuntary body viewing
the second time
you have been surprised
by a corpse

the grass is green
cut short at the house
clouds part by the hand of god
like god is karate chopping the sky
the opening reveals a sky bluer
than the ache that
lives in your bones
creates a vacuum
the clouds refuse to rush back in
instead the heavens suck the air
out of your lungs

you are too far away to see details
of the face
but the sun reflects
off a brown forehead
you can smell pomade
thick massaged into black
permanently styled hair
what you took for beads of sweat
is mortician’s wax
pilling on skin
that will not ever sweat

you have stopped breathing
your breath has fled
like a soul on the lam

a police car pulls up to the curb
maybe to ask
why they have a body on their lawn
why the casket is open
why the corpse is sweating
why can you smell it

why are cops who have gathered
around the corner
laughing with each other
like one just told a joke

traffic lets you move
and you breathe
and the body in the casket
does not