Because we love each other

The weather is rude today, too full of good
color and cheer, and makes me want to be out
of here, out of the interior time pandemic time
trauma has made me. I would sing as the canary
passes gently thru the break of my vision; I would
listen as the cat’s ear stings patiently at its Lord;
I would gorge deeply on my own fruit’s womb;
I would entomb blind joy in its spell: et benedictus
fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Iesus is us, and he isn’t,
anymore than Byzantine raised halos and bronze
disease is us, and they are—though most I enjoy
these hiccups come also witty with the breast, with
the breath, in the idea disease, ease, and that we
might just be metal too close together that will infect
each other, brother, brother, sister, sister, sister,
brother, comma, comma, trans—with revision then,
reglistening, which is love, becaused.

Epithalamion

        For Nicole and John

     She drew a name full of winning flesh,
Victory, I mean, so that any Yes she has to say
     We might say is a Yes achieved happily all her own—

And he drew a name large as any god,
     Large as a wall in the center of the night, and as calm,
God in the most gracious, the tenderest way.

     To be, like them, in a tenderness now,
Chill as April; to feel ourselves, like themselves,
     In a communion of that sprung blood; and to trust

That in the dark, in even the wild, forbidding dark
     Which by fact must come, is no threat,
No sudden evidence to break and unheat—

     Then we’re complete. Flesh falls away. Gods do.
I will make a man out of you, says one
     To the other. I will make a woman. Isn’t that

What to say I choose you means, means I let go
     The name I held only for myself to step sharply into yours,
Into that bareness each for the other makes,

     Outside the old conceptions, the old laws,
No she, no he—but together you become a single self
     That spans the sense of the imagination,

Wiser than the oldest language, which is love,
     More patient than the deepest song.  

2019

I could string him back up the tree, if you’d like.
        Return his skin’s meaning to an easy distance, coal dust, blaze
And Willie Brown him. You
        Love how the blood muddies the original,
The way it makes a stage of my speechifying, this leeching
        Capital from his dying,
Like an activist. I know

I’m not supposed to sing

Of his ringing
        Penetrability, some hole I open impose
On the form—but all I see is bullets, bullets discerning him,
        As years ago it was rope.
I could pull it tighter, finger each bullet deeper,
        If you’d like, an inch rougher,
Far enough to where becomes that second heat, erotic.

I could use the erotic,

If you’d like,
        So ungarish, baring not too frank
A mood, subtle so you need it.— Funny
        How some dark will move illicit if you close your eyes,
The way, say, my black
        Pleasure is named too explicit for a page, but this menace
I put in it is not.

I could yank and knot

The rope, if you’d like, him like a strange fragment
        In them trees,
And the word “again” spelled out about his neck
        Would be the rope’s predicate till let wild, patterned and
Fierce his moan.
        It is a tragedy. No. It is a sonnet, how I know
Already how he ends,

But I could make him

Her, if you’d like, regender them till merely
        Canvas for your “empathy,”
Soup for my mouth. Still, if I could but just get
        This blunt,
Burnt lynched body up
        From on
Out the pocket behind my eye

All trees could be themselves again, all sound.

Iris Song

You go outside and the trees don’t know
You’re black. The lilacs will chatter and break
Themselves real bloom, real boon,
No matter your gender. You matter.
Who in you is most material, so
You matter. Your afro gone touch the sky.
Come up from the ground looking extra fly,
Come up from the ground looking extra, fly,
I will touch the sky. I—open my mouth,
And my whole life falls out.

Related Poems

The Way One Animal Trusts Another

              Somewhere between what it feels like, to be at
one with the sea, and to understand the sea as
mere context for the boat whose engine refuses
finally to turn over: yeah, I know the place—
stumbled into it myself, once; twice, almost.  All
around and in between the two trees that
grow there, tree of compassion and—much taller—
tree of pity, its bark more bronze, the snow
              settled as if an openness of any kind meant, as well,
a woundedness that, by filling it, the snow
might heal…You know what I think? I think if we’re
lost, you should know exactly where, by now; I’ve
watched you stare long and hard enough at the map
already…I’m beginning to think I may never
not be undecided, about all sorts of things: whether
snow really does resemble the broken laughter
              of the long-abandoned when what left comes back
big-time; whether gratitude’s just a haunted
space like any other.  This place sounds daily
more like a theater of war, each time I listen to it—
loss, surprise, victory, being only three of the countless
fates, if you want to call them that, that we don’t
so much live with, it seems, as live for now among.  If as
close as we’re ever likely to get, you and I, is this—this close—

The Woman and the Flame

A bit of light that descends the springhead of a gaze
twin shadow of the eyelash and the rainbow on a face
and round about
who goes there angelically
ambling
Woman the current weather
the current weather matters little to me
my life is always ahead of a hurricane
you are the morning that swoops down on the lamp a night stone
   between its teeth
you are the passage of seabirds as well
you who are the wind through the salty ipomeas of consciousness
insinuating yourself from another world
Woman
you are a dragon whose lovely color is dispersed and darkens so
   as to constitute the
inevitable tenor of things
I am used to brush fires
I am used to ashen bush rats and the bronze ibis of the flame
Woman binder of the foresail gorgeous ghost
helmet of algae of eucalyptus
                                 dawn isn't it
                                 and in the abandon of the ribbands
                                 very savory swimmer

Hear the Light

—at The Giant Heart, The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, PA)

Today the boy won’t rest long enough
for me to burn a single metaphor
back to whether precision or

prayer leavens the language I need
cast into the well of our survival. And then
the boy urges my turn to stay

poised on a floor scale while watching 24
chilling cups of hurt-colored liquid spill
into a clear cylinder. The gutted window

to the privacy of blood harbored
in this body thins the daily belief
that no sick imaginary could cut us

full open. And then the boy gawks around
a carousel of animal hearts, fidgets against
his surprise at the smallness of the lion’s

carnal engine beside the cow’s. Before
I can weigh the un-chambered bellows
of hunger, the boy begins to sound

a panel that plays the pulse of each animal.
He doesn’t linger with a blood-music; he keeps
mashing buttons at random—from the canary’s

constant lift to the cavernous crawl
of the blue whale—until I can’t see living
inside a god-rhythm that soothes

this earthly cacophony pleading
toward the dark effort of tomorrow.
By now, I have a strange image for heart

filling my mouth. I’m remembering
the tiny fleshy pyramids my own father
cleaned from sunfish. When they ceased

their tight contractions, I strained
to recognize the heart-ness in his hand,
sometimes pressing down into the soft

plunge of his palm to witness one
last lunge. This memory dissolves because
the boy dashes off, and then I’m chasing him

through the beating corridors of a giant
vascular room. The way is dim
and narrow—: I’m working hard to keep up.

I’m trying not to lose the boy
inside the heart. But every time I hear the light
of his laughter murmur across another

distance, I breathe into the new blessing
his life has kindled from the space between us:—
I think I could survive like this all day.