There is a starfish in my mussel.
There is a starfish marinated in my mussel shell and a bulldog
on the barstool. There is a French bulldog perched
like a sage before the Catholics’
table and the master Catholic’s acolytes
are gawking at the bulldog with little charcoal
crucifixes scrawled across their foreheads to mark
the beginning of the season of lack.
There is a starfish in my fennel
wine sauce molded elliptically to the shape of the dark
elongated shell, one spiky limb limp
and tethered from the process of being
inadvertently served to the world.
There are the bulldog’s wise, coruscating eyes
and there is the man’s
liquid voice in my ear rehashing the grisly deterioration of a former
partner. There is a star
beyond Sirius that is this man next to me: a ball of light in a Stereolab
t-shirt, the voice an uneasy equilibrium between the solar
energy of his nuclear fusion and his propensity to collapse mid-story under
the weight of his own gravity.
As all things mammoth and behemoth end in a moth,
the beginning of hopelessness is always hope.
Our hope is not in the poem precisely, the hope is that the poem embodies
a hope for what it cannot accomplish. Over goblets of faux
Bordeaux we would sacrifice the body of any
text for an index of first lines,
those entry ribbons into
the laws of invisible things:
Tangerines and remorse; 217
The hypochondriac waiting with a punch 14
They gather in the saplings for a fire, 223
Truncated Om from 13
He fingers the starfish in my mussel and becomes
a black hole. Time becomes
a tuning fork he gongs on the counter and we slip back weeks
through a wormhole between prongs
to a velour disaster of a sofa from which
he points out over Stoli martinis up with a twist the painting
whose nebulous letter shapes refuse to coalesce into anything resembling the word
We agreed the canvas was a hieroglyphic Ouija
board but couldn’t decide
who was the Ouija master or whose hand went
on top. Redemption: to be
re-deemed, to be deemed
again, but what if we were deemed
worthless in the beginning?
If Berlin 188
If both breasts were of blown glass, 143
If not now, when shall the butterflies 130
If she hadn’t born enough sons to bear her pall, 57
In a swathe of 140
Interior landscapes shall profess: 4
There is a starfish in my mussel and a bulldog in the narthex
of a church I don’t know how to enter.
The light: puce. The score: one
death to zip. The world
becomes a series of ropes and we run our fingers through the knots
looking for a way to unravel it.
If depression is a finger, and liberation is a finger, this disoriented not
caring is the tightening
fingercuffs between them. We are stuck here in the mild
concussion of living.
“I have begun to shower in the dark.”
The starfish in my mussel is not the starfish on my beach
in Santa Cruz, where alone with two cronies the hunt
was for seagulls and the tools our hands.
I was a bad stalker. I thought of scissors. Each of us was
drawn in sand, represented by an X,
the schematic of our strategy a Delphic triangle of how to kill
everything we loved using nothing
but flesh, wood, kelp.
I was trying to be a goldfish
because they have a memory
span of three seconds. My thoughts
were simple: Da Vinci invented scissors, I was born without kneecaps,
I am in my aquarium, I understand my fingers
in the runnels in the sand, but the rest of perception
is a codex of loose sheets and I am just
beginning to learn how to stab
bind. I was sewing a book to enter the world
when one of us noticed one of us
had wandered off into the sea and was standing knee
deep in surf, covered with kelp, dripping
like a postmodern Proteus with a bandanna around his bicep and a dead and mangled gull
hanging from his hand.
Yes, I 138
Yes, inferior to scarabs, the anxious ants 4
Yesterday’s leaves will fall again 210
Your little eyes scouring outer space 84
There was a starfish in my runnel and one in my
mussel, a bulldog, the crucifix, the index,
there is a man in my ear and the girth of his lover’s
death, the imploding, the helix, the spume,
yet the harder we try to cultivate
a caustic view of humanity,
the more the birds fly in reverse
retracting the scars they’ve made in the sky.
No more irises 12
No more irises 12