even lying down, a sea
of pine, red
and your hands, the feel of
waking up in the
bursting with haves
even lying down, a sea
of pine, red
and your hands, the feel of
waking up in the
bursting with haves
Make use of the things around you.
This light rain
outside the window, for one.
This cigarette between my fingers,
these feet on the couch.
The faint sound of rock-and-roll,
the red Ferrari in my head.
The woman bumping
drunkenly around in the kitchen …
put it all in,
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?
My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the suburban
white T-shirt, blue jeans— to the field at the end of the street.
Hangers Hideout the boys called it, an undeveloped plot, a pit
with weeds, some old furniture thrown down there,
and some metal hangers clinking in the trees like wind chimes.
He’s running away from home because our father wants to cut his hair.
And in two more days our father will convince me to go to him— you know
where he is— and talk to him: No reprisals. He promised. A small parade
in feet pajamas will accompany me, their voices like the first peepers
And my brother will walk ahead of us home, and my father
will shave his head bald, and my brother will not speak to anyone the next
month, not a word, not pass the milk, nothing.
What happened in our house taught my brothers how to leave, how to walk
down a sidewalk without looking back.
I was the girl. What happened taught me to follow him, whoever he was,
calling and calling his name.
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “Hello there, Anne”
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
Sometimes I think I know nothing about sex.
All that I thought I was going to know,
that I did not know, I still do not know.
I think about this out of town,
on hotel elevators crowded with men.
That body of knowledge which lay somewhere
ahead of me, now I do not know where it
lies, or in the beds of strangers.
I know of sexual love, with my beloved,
but of men—I think there are women who know
men, I can’t see what it is
they know, but I feel in myself that I
could know it, or could I have been a woman
who would dare that. I don’t mean what she does
with herself, or that she would know more pleasure,
but she knows something true that I don’t know,
she knows fucking with a stranger. I feel
in awe of that, why is she not
afraid, what if she did not like
his touch, or what he said, how
would she bear it? Or maybe she has mercy on pretty much
anything a stranger would say or do,
or maybe it is not mercy, but sex,
when she sees what he is like, she enflames for that,
and is afraid of nothing, wanting to touch
stone desire, and know it, she is like
a god, who could have sex with stranger
after stranger—she could know men.
But what of her womb, tender core
of her being, what of her breasts’ stiff hearts,
and her dense eggs, what if she falls
in love? Maybe to know sex fully
one has to risk being destroyed by it.
Maybe only ruin could take
its full measure, as death stands
in the balance with birth, and ignorance with love.
She doesn’t really want him, but sometimes she needs him.
Needs him the way she thinks a planet might need a star,
Though not so much for light as for bearing.
So at midnight, when he doesn’t answer his phone,
She thinks of all the likely scenarios—visits
With friends, drinking sessions way into the night,
Accidents on the highway—but most of all
She imagines him in bed with another woman,
Him kissing her belly and breasts while the phone
Rings on the nightstand. But she’s not exactly jealous
Of the sex—she knows she can have it too—
Or the fact that someone might be happier with him
Than she was able—she really believes she tried—
She’s angry at his inaccessibility. She needs to think
He will always be available to answer her calls,
To tell her she is not going crazy, that the walls
Are not moving, that nobody really hates her.
Many times he asked to marry her and he said that he would
Always be there. But she said no. She knows
It wouldn’t work for what she’s attracted to
Is not his hands or heart or minds or face.
It’s as if he’s a place, a safe place, a safe
Where she can store all the doubts she’s saved
And does not have to share them with anybody else.
But she doesn’t want to hide herself in there.
She wants to go out dancing and date the best guys
Who ask her to lift her skirts in the wild fandango.
She needs him because she trusts him and he already knows
What could be called the truth about her. She thinks
How money might feel looked after by a guard.
She needs him now because she wants to tell him
About what was not a dream but her vision: she saw them
Together on a high bridge. Her stomach stuck out as though
She were pregnant. One by one she handed him kittens.
He kissed each one as he dropped it in a weighted sack,
And he said a prayer before he threw them into the river.
How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans,
with fears, with the last sentence someone spoke, still trying to finish
a conversation already over? How many nights were wasted
in not sleeping, how many in sleep—I don’t know
how many hungers there are, how much radiance or salt, how many times
the world breaks apart, disintegrates to nothing and starts up again
in the course of an ordinary hour. I don’t know how God can bear
seeing everything at once: the falling bodies, the monuments and burnings,
the lovers pacing the floors of how many locked hearts. I want to close
my eyes and find a quiet field in fog, a few sheep moving toward a fence.
I want to count them, I want them to end. I don’t want to wonder
how many people are sitting in restaurants about to close down,
which of them will wander the sidewalks all night
while the pies revolve in the refrigerated dark. How many days
are left of my life, how much does it matter if I manage to say
one true thing about it—how often have I tried, how often
failed and fallen into depression? The field is wet, each grassblade
gleaming with its own particularity, even here, so that I can’t help
asking again, the white sky filling with footprints, bricks,
with mutterings over rosaries, with hands that pass over flames
before covering the eyes. I’m tired, I want to rest now.
I want to kiss the body of my lover, the one mouth, the simple name
without a shadow. Let me go. How many prayers
are there tonight, how many of us must stay awake and listen?
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh … And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new
Pier Giorgio di Cicco
I want you to see the hole in my shirt where your
heart went through like a Colt 45, and opened
a dream at the back of the neck. Here, let me unbutton it for you.
Notice the ribs, those sweet things you loved, notice the insides,
the parchment lampshades, the books, the furniture. Notice yourself
sitting, holding my hand on a winter night, notice the look in
my eyes, now close it all up and walk away.
Stumble, pretend you’re dead. Just for me, pretend you can be
hurt by something so simple as a failed emotion. Pretend you have seen
loss. For god’s sake what was I holding when you said good morning.
What I see now in our snapshots
together is the hole in your T-shirt,
a torn seam at your left shoulder, dark
in the sun. Already up close, you can see
the indigo thread coming out, and this is
what worries me, how fast a thing
unravels. From the loose weave of what
covers us, touches our freckled skin, we are
open to desire or absence.
We count on the way our clothes keep us
together, separate and intact,
though we know better. We are
no closer beneath the careful fabric,
the small, easy buttons — only more
honest, unyielding, foreign. Nor are we
any safer, any more beyond touch
across heavy cotton, a white linen sleeve.
And if the distance we’ve sewn together
is thin, what begins to give
has been there all along: always
how things come apart into their own
basic pieces, all texture and hue of color,
all fiber and cut and bone, where
we are most ourselves revealed.
This time I want to take each unbroken
thread between my fingers, worrying it,
undoing slowly what I know to follow
where it takes me, how it ends.
Carol Jane Bangs
Skin meeting skin, we want to think
we know each other scientifically;
we want to believe
it is objective knowledge
gives this conviction of intimacy,
makes us say it feels so right.
That mole below your shoulder blade,
the soft hair over my thighs—
we examine our bodies with the precision
known only to lovers or surgeons,
all those whose profession is explication,
who have to believe their own words.
And yet, having memorized each turning,
each place where bone strains or bends,
each hollow, each hair, each failure of form,
we still encounter that stubborn wall,
that barrier which hides an infinite vastness
the most sincere gesture can’t find.
Nor does emotion take us further
than the shared heat of our bodies
aware of themselves,
the flattery of multiple desires.
We rest in each other’s arms unexplained
by these currents of feeling rushing past
like ripples over a pool of water
whose substance never changes,
reflecting each wave, each ribboned crossing,
without being really moved.
We search each other’s eyes so long
beyond our own reflections,
finding only the black centers,
the immeasurable interior we’ll
never reach with candle,
never plumb with love.
Perhaps it is just this ignorance,
this absence of certainty, lack of clear view,
more than anything, brings us together,
draws us into and through each other
to the unknown inside us all,
that gray space from which
what we know of ourselves
emerges briefly, casts a transient
shadow across the earth
and learns to believe in itself just enough
to believe in some one else.
And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass
Walking in the dark streets of Seoul
under the almost full moon.
Lost for the last two hours.
Finishing a loaf of bread
and worried about the curfew.
I have not spoken for three days
and I am thinking, “Why not just
settle for love? Why not just
settle for love instead?”
My heart, sing praises to the men
I’ll never love; from whom a night
away’s just that — a night — and not
a lifetime in the desert without food
and water. It’s because of them
that breakfasts can be eaten, Lord, appointments
kept, and letters left to lie
where they have fallen; men with whom
a perfect evening may be nothing more
than beer and cards outside beneath the lean-to
where straight-talk and easy gestures leave
dark nests of sparrows and the scent
of bonfires in their wake; the sort of men
whose smiles I can endure without
surrendering my all to them;
in whose unswerving disregard,
let heaven rejoice, let the earth be glad.