to begin

i’m going to start again at the very beginning. peel all my skin off, step out of my bones, wash everything, and put it back on again. i’m going to give us a chance, like two children, fresh, unsharpened pencils, september school supply level unopened box of pens. i’m going to meet you in the morning and learn your name. i will ask you things about yourself and i can’t wait to hear any answer it is. i am squeegee-ing the car windows. i know you will not fit every corner of my bookshelf. i do not expect you to fit inside my cake pans. you are what you are, and you will be any given thousand things in any series of lifetimes. i do not expect you to know exactly what i’m thinking or to know how to give me what i want without me telling you. i am writing a love letter to whoever you already are, and who you will be, who you want to be, and to how you will change, how you will grow, what we both know from the experiences we have had, and what we will learn from each other. life has taught us some things, but life is not over, and now i think it just may be time for life to begin.

through the lens

when i gaze through the barrel of the lens, oblong glass and twisted tunnel of light, firm plastic body, curved friend of mine, tracking the sun around the 360 curve of the horizon, placing it above and before, around and behind — when i scope the branches and bushes for their hues, cascade along a city street, avoiding the trash cans, the fire hydrants, the construction cones, the brash colors, the trash on the ground; scoop the face out of the background like a sieve, catch them like an eyeball floating through space, like so many drops of pixelated reflection, mirrorless, drifting into a nether-sphere, a black box of captured creation, balls of light framing a moment, when i hold the moment in my hands, i think perhaps of the stretched curve of spacetime, like a great net or a wash of graphs and charts sprinkled around like dust, woven together like a web, hungering towards each other, blown out like cosmic microwave background radiation, all 10 dimensions of reality laying on one another, making something entirely new in the moment of interaction – something perceivable in this strange lens, something meaningful in our wild frames, our little perfect brains, our beautiful seeing eyes, the strangest gift that we are

california

the rocks pull up out of the earth like slotted spoons , the calm footed warbler, singing the California song of long yellow grasses and burnt tipped rust flowers , crack bottomed memory cup ; and now we are filling it again and again, we brothers we are dancing and singing in the kitchen , we are gawking at ourselves as we gape over a cliff side , we are all healing in laughter, in the craze of reverie , we are drinking in the ocean side and letting it flip us upside down ; all starlight and fireworks dotted against the cityscape ;;

One gnarled tree and the tangled tan leaves of the never seasons that coat the ground in a forever timescale, all sunlight all the time, a land without winter, where drought has steeped the landscape in whites and yellows and grays, where smoke has filled the sky and still the tips of what leaves there are dance in the breeze, a silence still grand // scoop up the ocean with your palms and let it gaze back ;; and i am yours, i am yours

seven julys

the brightness of the air grasps at me; small moss glasses and the view of the sky;; a thousand stars splayed backwards, a firm handshake with the milky way; a long line of roots that curve like promises to the side of the mountain — rattlesnake shiver and broken ankle fumble, twist in the socket and fire in the rocket, twice around the moon and twice around the sun, the silver streak of the mid-morning fog trailing up through the long grass — pillars of an ancient foundation (just stones placed on one another with enough balance and enough gravity) ; float on your back to the middle of a midnight lake, let the long gaze into the burning gas giants capsize you ;;;

6 peels away and somehow your frame is long and sturdy, somehow your hair is its own island, your gaze knows its own truths, you hug and smile and reach for me, wrap your thinning arms around me, ask to hold me and kiss your doll; but you write a world of your own on paper, you sketch it in remarkable likeness; water-logged child ablaze with a mischievous grin, 7 came pummeling out of the sky like a thunderclap – new light-up sketchers and wild legs to run with, the strength to dive in to the water and know that you can come back up, the gulp of words in other languages, the resistance to things that don’t challenge you / your friendship with yourself, your voice singing along in the back of the car, how you know to reach out and touch me when you know i need it, your interest in small facts and big facts; your heart, growing ever wider, brimming to the seams — seemingly impossible that the threads of your doll still hold, after all that love, and care, and holding; seemingly impossible that you are seven, and that my heart hasn’t burst after all that love

roots

When the edge of night meeting day is long enough for you to swim through it, you can jump on your bicycle and fly through a parade of lightning bugs ; feel July begin to overcook the plants, the green edges growing weary with too much fire – fire that has traveled light years to meet it ;; when lightning strikes on every point on the horizon ; when the heat itself is a body you must move through: tepid, oblong, hulking ; you can gather up your boots and fill them with rainwater; you can float downstream, you can gaze into the eyes of a juniper bush and wait for the world to ripen ;; weary feet and water logged arms, so many storms the summer has carried , so many roots burying themselves deep, the crack of the train barreling like ice over splintered cups;; the destination, an endless set of roots, finding a home in the darkness

trace a robin’s track through the sky and drink it in ; straight tender pale blue as the sun hits the horizon , June still holding coolness in the air , cottontail trial of oranges and pinks , the time of roses + rubber skies , when I die let them say I was all air and no gravity / one day, the sight of the world existing again is so strange, so sublime and terrifying , any given assortment of joy seems seems undeserved and stolen  ; mostly, I don’t like to name the flowers, for who am I to tell them who they are ; and lily pads have no vows but the endless feeling of weightless water brewing them like a cloud, Or perhaps some sequence of thoughts I know not how to know , but will endlessly sit in awe of / Now a guitar , now a bar fight , now a string is a string of thoughts I cannot make sense of , Now my heart beating in time with yours , now some love I will never give away , Now a broken heart I will nurse tenderly , a fallen soldier , a catacomb , I did everything wrong

How sophisticated the compliment of colors have gotten now / how the rings are formed when the geese push past the lantern top of the water ; me, feeling like a sinner as i pluck the wild flowers from the side of the bank because I believe they’d probably like to stay rooted, rather than shoved into colored glass ; How this bumblebee buzzes, the air a trampoline; the buoyancy, a nectar ; this flower – a sunlight transformer

i dive to the bottom of the pool so that my tears can just flow straight back to the water — no need for gravity to pull diamonds towards the soil , i’ll just sit at the bottom of the bright blue and let it all stream out of my face, out of these eyes i hate so much , dive off the diving board just so i can feel myself sink, hit the bottom, when my ears begin to hurt, push off and float up to the air again, homebound astronaut just trying to feel myself ascending

Bob, you wildly inappropriate man, you, sparkle in your eye, love in your heart, fire in your eyes ; old kettle, always warm ; full furnace of laughter ; maker ; engine driver ; generosity extender / we are all here, raising a glass, mostly laughing in your gentle memories ; everyone says “we’ve seen such loss” / seeing so much of my community after a year is the strangest waking dream , the touch and smile of unmasked people of all ages, holding each other in love, what a thing theatre can be, what a thing you were to so many


the sky looks at me, the burden of sunlight pouring, all cream, all yellow; june, combat boots on rain splashed sidewalks, super sonic radio waves of love, gasping at the rain, swallowing a thunderstorm; i suppose, if that’s how you want it, that’s how it’ll be

a nest

the first fireflies of the year pulled themselves out of the darkness ; cigarette butts flying through the sky, a thousand trilling songs swarming in the bushes / running down the streets of Princeton again ; dust wind and broccoli roots , the back porch in a thunderstorm; June, blowing in like a hurricane , the pulling of laffy taffy thoughts, hung together like rattling marbles trying to find their way through a puzzle of their own deciding ; lens focus, shot butter crisp background: perhaps all this sorrow will wrap its arms around me, make me a nest of its low hum, the weight of this heavy air, something I can rest my head against 

frames

all i can do is sit and cry and cry / it’s a dream, surely it’s all a dream — i wish you had ever given me a chance // rain has pulled all the salt out of my eyes and i am flint — ash water and silver stone, i am fox-eyed and missing half my brain — words are just something i once knew how to use, but now they are all soap and water and i can’t get clean ;; maybe some day in the future i say, maybe then you’ll see — all i ever wanted, all i still want, was to stand by your side / some harbinger of sound pecks at the door, i am just wood and frames of a shelter, empty plaster and the reflections of signs on the asphalt puddles — it kept raining, and i kept wanting anything other than this world to be the one that was spinning // the clouds are laughing at me

in retrospect of the wound

A few weeks ago the light fell out of the trees ;; the river , a swamp now , and the gulping trusses of the branches gape at me ; oblong breath and armed monster teeth , shallow lunged I packed up my heart , tried to wrap a draw string around it , and left it at your doorstep / I wandered around the woods for days , May seems like a haze of thick air and buds in your hair ; of brassica family tones the thickness of bones when they crash against pavement // when I find the missing holes, I fill them with cracked clay ;; the sunlight is a shadow maker , my ashes are just fertilizer ;; nothing more wild than the tongue of the sky laughing up mayflies and gazing at misplaced rocks // nothing like the skyline of the city cracking the horizon like an egg , a fumbled sunset I am racing through ,, all the traffic lights and bumblebee license plates — the kerchief of a restaurant splayed like hands onto a street :: tumbles of spring light that fleck through water glasses and broken, unmasked laughter ;; the old clink of silverware and you, no where to be found ;;


Racing to the ocean at midnight to taste the ice cubes on your skin, the black shawl of the sky, the wildest comfort I can be granted ;; the thoughts I try to press out of my brain with a rolling pin ; the energy of cars that drive past places with names that have meaning to me now in retrospect of the wound