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once while on assignment in dark places I imagined the cool breath of starlight blowing through an open place or the bright reflection upon lumps and piles of shattered windshield glass. like a memory of my memory. and we talked, huddled as we were in the hollow of the bowl beneath the sky, told these stories, you see, these tiny tales broke open over us in a rush of cold night wind. we heard them, the one about the walking wasps their forgotten wings hung drying in the sun, or the one with the frank and vocal child, her face covered in dewdrops, or the music of my breathing reflected from the curve of my drinking glass a whisper of some sweet herbs. we told them so- filled words upon words in the cup of our hands and drank them together till our palms were dry. and every time, every one we told grew stronger in the hearing til it could fly right out of the grass. (stars turned, night fled, day came there was evening and there was morning) so we watched our strong and winged stories hover there a moment above our crouched forms before we lost sight of them—why would they stay there with us who could only walk?
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"who gonna shoe your pretty little feet?/who's gonna glove your little hand?/who's gonna kiss your ruby red lips? hmm mmm mmmmmm/poppa's gonna shoe your pretty little feet/mommas gonna glove your little hand/and I'm gonna kiss your ruby red lips hmm mmm mmmmmm"

we hung tolling like bells no like strings we hung waiting a tuner we waited to fret our gray sky with gaily painted lightning rebounded from the river our fingers finding asphalt the taste of truth upon our tongues and the whine of approaching disaster speedily bearing down on us we ring we wring we ring we're out the wiring up into the branches and branches tiny glasscracks in the clouds we lost the trace of jade in all those lights when the fog moved in the forever falling particles forgotten in the forever rising column from that distant smokestack we bloodied our handles before the angels could swoop in and work us out like so many bad teeth and rise with them o my bitten hands my forgetting fingers grip me just so and drown me right now right down in the cool stony river then remind me o remind me of the spring we left back there its easy once you accept the evergreens for themselves, the red earth for its color and the taste of your own skin sweet with sweat and forgotten dust tracks
on           then closed
and off           then opened
and on           closed
and open          and off
and on               and closed
forgotten forgotten hung waiting to branch our lost bloodied angels rise, drowned in spring slipped and recursed, our tangled bodies painted on the earth our mouths against the soil warm and roiling the hope of coming snows upon our hunched and ready muscles naked in the steam my eyes fractured by your conifer fingers upon me your hair is ropes of half remembered sunshine as november day warms into sodium night aglow with our falling memory (so many motes in the blue smoky air) the smell of fire from your open mouth wakes me and I grow hungry from the lack of you, aching for the balm of your body against my body, the sweet fall of your hair on my neck fast like the river like buildings being built like the crash of voices in the marketplace

I pulled away then, remembering

"who gonna rock your little rockin chair?/who's gonna sing you to sleep?/who's wipe away your little tears? hmm mmm mmmmmm/poppa's gonna rock your little rockin chair/mommas gonna sing you to sleep/and I will wipe away your little tears mmm mmmmmmmm"
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Before the dawn there is cool air in the city and the winter feels just like that dark for the summer and that makes spring the dawn I huddled into the bus in winter and stepped into the bright day of summer all in all a rush like the sound of grasshoppers bursting out of the weeds en masse, like the sound of God flying into the world I moved into the warm diesel embrace of the middling time before sunrise and dreamed drowsily of snow turning to ice, rivers turning to falls, asphalt turning to water: all things turning all things quicksilver and spectral. My limbs shot through with pains I imagined the future as a thing lined hard upon the road, the cracks in pavement. I dreamed the future like a woman's body pressed against mine, mine against cold stone, the night slipping away from us like God's own dovewings and the whole onrush of morning pressing onto us just as hard as our mouths one against the other. I couldn't make out the voices in the dark behind me over the roar of the city streets, even at this early hour. The headlights punctured my brain like darts. O if only I could take you I wanted to whisper in her ears take you to the place of the fields, the bright ethereal blue of the flowers, a color that barely touched the petals themselves but hovered above it and the scent of things was all wet leaves, unbruised flesh, warm coffee. Hidden there, across the distant field, you can just make out the yellow eyes of tigers and we want them for our own want them for our jewelry boxes and to stare into as morning fades to noon and the heat of the day waves above us, naked and hungry at the edge of the world
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We ate grapes, cherries, plucked things with the sun in them. Then someone murmured memories of the taste of mussels (steamed in vermouth, fresh garlic, a dash of chili) and breathed little sculptures of language in our ears: "victory. victory." No, the chorus won't grow that quickly, we demurred, but there's plenty of room under the bridges. Let's go capture all the tiny refractions from the river for an hour, and feed them--just so--to the first lovely strangers we meet in the first open square just inside the gates of the city. I wanted to memorize Shams for him, proclaim wild gospels of friendship above the glass desert. I didn't though; couldn't let go that way, whirling into the unbroken horizon. Instead clung to my reminders: fallen grape leaves for steaming, her whispered words, a handfull of cherry pits.

I stared and stared at her, my jaw like drying gears, my heart the rising heads of birds in the nest. Your voice came at us as a white plume of water exploded upon the caked and trackless ground. Lifted eyes behind a veil of hair, then my wits so many snail shells among the sand and utterly lost in the sparks of sunlight caught there. Like unemployed gods burned their canvases, tossed cinders at the shoreline.

Were these any good once I'd seen those hands of his, the sweet dark ligaments beneath his shiny skin? oh. hanged man, remind me why I want this river, sketch something clearly in the air and let me follow. Then hold me in those arms and amaze my heart, scattered and opaque in all its pieces.

Won't you meet me there at the river, run down her banks with me and hide in the cool rich green of the leafy undergrowth? Kiss me then, find the contours of my ears and speak only small truths into my flesh. I'll reward you just so, my limbs transformed into wings at your touch. All these for those tiny reveries out of your hands, your mouth at my neck, my hands in your hair.

My love, he is a trail of gravel, hidden among the sharp emerald grasses of the riverside. Our fingers spill from spiders' webs and run gleefully free among the brown rootstocks of our bodies. I hear fire upon my hair and the flavor of her remembered through that spill of liquor from the crown of her head, the opening of our lips and those remnants. A torrent of flavors dry and hot, electric spices poured out on our food, our open palms, the cracks between the cobbles.
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The star said to the spider, "What have you caught there in your web?"

The spider mutely gestured with her forelegs at the tightly wrapped form. The spider held her food lovingly, bound it quickly in white, stung once. Twice. Silence before and after, the struggle hasty and whispered with sound only from the nearby plant, the anchor of her web. She tried to ignore the star.

The star pulled herself up, shone just a little brighter, and asked again, "What have you caught, spider?"

Star and spider were sisters, each had long limbs and quick venom and each loved the cool air of night, the rush of wings in the valleys and the swirl of wind through reeds at the edge of the waters. But the spider didn't like it much when her sister inquired after her midnight hunt, poked her silver light into the corners of her web. The star didn't like to admit it, but she'd wanted to know what blood tasted like. She knew only the individual elements, and each burned immediately, long before it congealed into life.


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May 2009

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