California No

You say intimacy breathes.
I drop in.

I know the sexiest
sentence there is—the most

erotic. I know it
like I know the last moment

wants to draw us

If we could say it doesn’t go
plainly as that

knowing the most intimate
line there is

or I know

on so many occasions those
yes yes yeses almost

what they yesed—

More by Rae Gouirand


Just as I move to sound the word
I start again, fall between the place

my mouth begins and the place
it makes something: the sudden here

synonymous with place and loss,
the dark world holding my body

differently. Every night I wake
at the point I try to speak

because I am trying to speak.
Because a sound breaks out.

There is no way to try a word
when silenced by it. The dark

outside will never show the inside
of my mouth back to me.

Losing that word over and over
is the same trouble as what

I carry. Maybe all lost things are
meanings beyond here and now.

Maybe there are no metaphors,
just what is true and what is true.

Blood and Stone

What if: stone is what
you get. A gun of stone. What if

the table beneath it were:
& the walls catching the sound. What

if no one knew: you were
around. If people came: from stone

& found only that.
What if stones were: deaf & mute

& cold. What could be
warmed. What word would you hurl.

At what would you point
your blood. Of what is a stone:

composed: what holds what
to itself. What is there to break it

& why when it goes does it
go only: to smaller ones. A stone

has no center but itself. It only
breaks; it does not change. It only

goes from one to many. Stones
always exist. Stones always exist.

Stones always exist. Stones
always exist. There is no way out of this.

Long Exposure

On that last day, we read images taken
from a moving car, listening

to the artist speak of wanting that way
time stretches things out

readable in the frame
so the image caught is the image itself

passing, then of how
she experimented with how long

to keep the shutter open. When things
line up or sit atop another, I join

a lump there, join the bottom of myself.
You sit beside, stroking my hand

those moments, first squinting at long skies
over Laramie then nodding.