Aubade at the City of Change

In this city
each door I cross
in search of your room

grows darker
than the sky, this silver
dome of morning spread

across the urban smog.
Country dark washes the city
light off the outskirts

& beyond

where you sleep in hiding,
where your face
wrapped in gauze

shines like sequin
in the lingering moon-drizzle.
I reach for you

at the corners of the clubs,
inside motel rooms,

where rent boys tumble
perspired bed sheets,
doubling you, your maleness

discharged,
your hipbones sticking
to my thighs, hard

stubble of your legs
scratching. The night I followed
a strange road, looking

to forget all this, starlight
spooled the gravel ribbon
leading back to the city

behind me, back
to the hospital room
where I last saw you—

Tonight, I’ll rest
on this road, I’ll look back
to the city of change

where one year
two skyscrapers lifted, a park
shed trees

for new thoroughfares,
& an old cinema
erupted to rebuild itself

in its place. I’ll stay
on the pavement,
suspended in time

like the broken sign announcing
You are enteringline , (a name

changed two years ago),
& I’ll wonder
if the hot breeze

blowing the nape
of my neck
is your unchanged

breath rising like candle
smoke from the city.

Related Poems

Deep Red

Deep red • the submarine blips on the cold surface
in Antarctica • as Mariner’s ship draws near •
frothy surface on the blue wave •
Life is still • so catch as catch can • still evanescent, still

Red, an oar touches the water’s rim • muscular arm buff as
Meryl Streep’s in The River Wild • in Antarctica •   
frothy surface on the blue wave • life is still • “I don’t have
many T-cells left, but I used to have 8” • “now I have 9”

Under the gristle, vein, under the vein, deep red •
the blood of my pal • deeper and deeper this tiny wave, blue
on the surface • alone on the surface •
if you were one-dimensional what would you see?
a one celled mammal swimming for dear life •
to a shore strewn with protozoa bracken • still life
“now I have 6”

the flotsam and • jetsam of living • high
and deep • this the curve that
will kill you • pal
I’m living in • your disgrace
deep • red hatchet • cells
a doll with hands • scuttles across the face •
of the sea for you
come and get these • memories

Edmonia Lewis and I Weather the Storm

The places where Edmonia’s bones were fractured still hold violent reverberations. When it rains I massage the static hum out of each point of impact. There is nothing heavier than flesh that wishes to be on another axis, except perhaps stone she shaped. Tonight she tells me, it’s impossible to bring a lover to the small death she deserves. An orgasm is excavated, never given. She takes my face in her hands without permission. I take her waist with care not to treat her like a healing thing. My fear winnows. She is digging me out of my misery with her fugitive hands. No one has ever led me out of myself the way she does when we move as though the species depends on our pleasure. She makes a pocket of me until I cry. I’ve seen that field, the site of her breaking, in the empty parking lot I cut through to class. There is nothing left for us to forge in Oberlin, and still we remain, Edmonia a sentient rock, swallowing her own feet in want of motion. We fit on this twin sized bed only by entanglement. We survive here by the brine of our brutish blood.

Had the Vines Budded, Were the Pomegranates in Bloom

My old lover was Catholic and lied to me about the smallest things. Now he's dying and I'm trying to forgive everyone standing in line ahead of me at the grocery store. I keep painting objects intuitively. I keep saying I've never been in love. It's not quite true but I keep describing the same things differently, as sailboats through the locks of reversed rivers or as streaks of red across the sky, visible only in one eye. The sensation of decision-making won't stay put. I forget who I am and wake up exhausted. I had a teacher once who died, it was as if she removed herself into the forest. I scatter leaves to read them like pages as if she's speaking. She was in love. I don't know if I'm worried I will or won't ever give up my fictional autonomy. I'm choosing between two trees with two hollows. One begins breaking as I step inside, as I try to sleep. The other is already inhabited by a rooster. I pluck a feather and run to the pawn shop. How much is this worth? Can I buy it back for my Sunday best, for the suit I never wear? Maybe if I go to the church I don't believe in I'll meet a man I can. I'll wear my Jewish star and pray for his belief to convince me that I too want someone to hold my stare.