The Problem with Travel
Every time I’m in an airport,
I think I should drastically
change my life: Kill the kid stuff,
start to act my numbers, set fire
to the clutter and creep below
the radar like an escaped canine
sneaking along the fence line.
I’d be cable-knitted to the hilt,
beautiful beyond buying, believe
in the maker and fix my problems
with prayer and property.
Then, I think of you, home
with the dog, the field full
of purple pop-ups—we’re small
and flawed, but I want to be
who I am, going where
I’m going, all over again.
* * *
Accident Report in the Tall, Tall Weeds
My ex got hit by a bus.
He wrote me in a text to tell me this.
____Now will you talk to me? I got hit by a bus.
He even sent me a link to the blurry footage on the news.
I never wanted to see him come … Read More »
A circular path is carved through your front yard.
Pink sinkholes gather in your medicine
cabinet. You exalt busted blenders like sophisms
scrawled by retired scholars.
Your life has become a shy puzzle,
a canyon of foreclosures,
an abandoned fish market.
The world has accused you of not being a world,
of loving meaningless songs,
and you have responded by raising your children to unravel
spools of red tape across cities of wax.
The promise … Read More »
Michael Romano and Kenneth Goldsmith
I have a bunch of questions but they’re still pretty disorganized in my mind.
So let’s just shoot. It’ll all fall together on the editing board.
I asked you something a few years ago, about whether you consider Ubuweb a work of art, and you said something interesting, but, you know, I lost the tape, and then I saw this book here, the Letter to Bettina Funcke.
Oh yeah, yeah.
Where you start off by answering that same question, and you say it is, that perhaps it’s the most significant work you’ll ever create, but then you veer off, plagiarize yourself and others, and it gets kind of crazy, and you don’t give anything like a conclusive answer. So I want to ask it again.
Well, I think Documenta didn’t really understand poetry, … Read More »
TO AN OLD FRIEND IN PARIS
I haven’t seen the ghost of your mother.
But I have seen your poems about the ghost
Of your mother as she brushes by you
Near the Seine, or as Linda Gregerson,
Or in the unseen acts guiding those poems
About the ghost of your mother, that chill
As you write that withers into something
Lithe, words for the weather suddenly flush
With lavender and salt, barked line breaks hush,
The poem opening like an ear pressed
Against the cold, clicking door of a safe.
Day comes to dark caves but darkness remains.
And the only way then to know a truth
Is to squint in its direction and poke.
LUCAS AND MARK
I sit sandwiched between two Chuck Closes:
Luckless “Lucas,” made up of small fat dots
Bursting against black-backgrounded colors,
His unkempt hair, unkempt beard, unkempt stare
Shot past the small bench between him and “Mark.”
No one in … Read More »
An angel in a golden robe escorts the last of three ladies of a certain age into a well-appointed sitting room. It is tenderly lit; there are bowls of scentless cream-colored flowers on tables of a heartbreaking polish. Clearly arranged to the greatest possible conversational advantage are three upholstered chairs, covered in a lemon-colored silk. Two of the chairs are already filled; in one, a stoutish woman sits, an iron-colored bun on the top of her head, her hands folded quietly on her lap. Her face is contented; it would be wrong to say that she is smiling. The woman in the chair across from her has her hair done in a knot at the nape of her neck; threads of grey stand out in the chignon, but far fewer than her companions. The third, escorted by … Read More »
Take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.
My first encounter with my colleague Ivan Fox’s house in Trenton was a small, late-summer dinner party. It was a balmy dusk. Another coworker, who lived a few blocks away from me in Princeton, picked me up at my apartment. As we drove, the ivy-swathed Gothic architecture and Tudor storefronts of our university town gradually gave way to stucco municipal buildings, one-room churches, chain-link fences, hand-painted signs, and rundown Victorian residences. On Ivan’s street, a group of black teenaged boys were standing in the road; they peered at us through the windshield, and then parted to let our car through.
The house stood at the corner of an intersection with a dead-end street, one side of it almost completely obscured … Read More »
As when my father goes back under
and the doctor comes out to tell us he’s put a window in my father’s heart.
At last! The inscrutable years are over. I’ll look right in
before the glass gets smudged, before he has a chance to buy drapes or slatted blinds.
It will be a picture window; I’ll be a peeping Tom.
Imagine the balcony of secrets, the longings: our future a window box of heart-to-hearts.
Then he’s awake, calling for morphine,
his pain greater than from the first surgery.
On the next rounds the doctor clarifies:
the window’s really more like a gutter so built-up fluids can drain.
And I remember my father on a ladder
pulling down leaves and rot, each year saying, Do I need this kind of trouble?
Saying, A new roof? You think I’m made of money?
Draw the shades. Let him rest. Let me sit … Read More »
An impotent man on vacation, so potent at work, keeps going at his wife every night, every afternoon. “I need to prove that I’m norm…I mean, that I’m all right,” he whispers, with coiled desperation.
The wife buries her face into a synthetic pillowcase, recalling a discussion they’d had a decade ago about a birthday card from George. He’d accused her of trying to ruin him, citing her need to discuss the birthday card as an attempt to undermine his confidence. It was only a few months after their wedding; he’d picked up her favorite wedding gift, a Navajo bowl, and smashed it against the oak floor of their apartment.
Today, after breakfast, and another failed attempt, she goes for a solitary bike ride. Down the road the workmen wave and grunt “Salaut.” They are splitting boulders … Read More »
The wind whipped salty air against Silas Woodrow’s face, but his daughter was nowhere in sight. She was always doing things like this.
Silas walked slowly back to the station and wiped his neck and face with napkins from the café counter. His leg ached. He sat in a chair and looked up at the menu. The doctors had told him he couldn’t order espressos or anything acidic. He wondered if there was anything tasty he could eat in the whole damn country.
A man in a tightly tailored suit kept opening and looking into his leather briefcase. Silas figured he was in the mafia. The briefcase probably contained drugs or money or cut-off pinky fingers.
Silas tried to remember why the wedding was in Italy anyway. Someone on one side of the damn dentist’s family must have … Read More »
At night as the heat’s
warble strummed to
a ticking silence,
and the crabgrass
turned blue then green
then black, the branches
above would relax
and gently pluck my
the dark-haired woman
who, years later, would
scratch to be let in.
Your father was born after the earthquake & fire.
Began work at four, buried his mother at six.
Summers he picked prunes in the valley,
the sun searing spots onto his narrow shoulders.
He lost an eye. Blew out his left ear-drum
in a packing plant accident. These things
were what one expected.
He never made friends. They were a luxury,
he could not afford. He smoked for a decade,
through college, when he worked full-time as a
teacher. Nights he dedicated to numbers. Found
pleasure in the orderly arrangement of the known
world. You were a gift, born at the end of the
depression, to his German wife—unaware of
the rubble from which you emerged.
You were a … Read More »