Every Verb is a Lesson in Longing or Dread

Dear Reader, it wouldn’t be a lie if you said poetry was a cover
for my powerlessness, here, on this plane
having ticked off another day waiting for her diagnosis to rise.
As the air pressure picks up, I feel the straight road
curved by darkness, where the curve is a human limit,
where the second verb is mean, the second verb is to blind.
On the other line, my mother sits on her bed
after a terrible infection. Her voice like a wave
breaking through the receiver, when she tells me
that unlike her I revel in the inconclusivity of the body.
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At the end of the line, I know my mother
accumulates organ-shaped pillows after surgery.
First a heart, then lungs.
The lung pillow is a fleshy-pink. The heart
pillow, a child-drawn metaphor. Both help her expectorate
the costs to the softer places of her body.
After each procedure they make her cross,
the weight of the arm comes down. These souvenirs
of miraculous stuffing other patients on the transplant floor covet,
the way one might long for a paper sack doll made by hand.
Though the stuffing is just wood shavings, one lies
with the doll tight at the crick of an elbow at night.

Related Poems

In Aporia

I realized everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like 'four million' or 'going to die'"
            ―Andy Warhol

I'm trying on ego, [a justification for the planet's continuance]. Oh

hello transgressor, you've come to collect utilitarian debts, humbling

narrative space. Give me a condition and wheatgrass,

I his body is disintegrating, I his body is ossification. Death by habit

radius, yeah yeah.

I his body can't refuse this summons. I can't get out

this fucking room. Tell me something different about torture

dear Trickster.

Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick the one i love the best

how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.

I jump all over this house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,

nothing more deceptive than]:

I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me.

As like human. Or lima bean.

I'm cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion you & Peter carve
        on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not at all like the kind of terror found
        in sleep, on trembling grounds.

It is yesterday now. I have not had a change to dance in this century. Tonight I shall kill someone,

a condition to remember Sunday mornings.

To think of lives as repetitions [rather than singular serial incarnations]. To understand your
        death is as exacerbating as trying to figure out why as schoolchildren in mid-nineteen-sixties
        South California

we performed reflexive motion:

cutting out lace snowflakes, reading Dick and Jane serch for their missing mittens,

imagining snow.

And this too, fiction. The book I would want to right.

The restored fallen, heroic.

Did you expect a different frace from the world? Or upon exit?

I'm working on "tough." They think I am already. All ready.

Who is the dead person? Is "I'm sorry" real to a dead person?

Browning grass. My hands on this table. A contentious century.

A place to pay rent. Redemptive moments.

Am I now the dead person?

Dead person, dead person, will you partake in my persimmon feast?

The body inside the body astounds, confesses sins of the funhouse.

I too have admired the people of this plant.

Their frilly, ordered intellects.

The use they've made of cardamom,

radiation as well. How they've pasteurized milk, loaned surnames to stars,

captured tribes, diseases, streets, and ideas too.

To Be Continued:

The partial mastectomy took a long time to execute
And left a huge raggedy scar
Healing from that partial mastectomy took even longer
And devolved into a psychological chasm 2 times the depth
And breadth of the physical scar from the mastectomy that was raggedy
And huge
Metastatic reactivation of the breast cancer requiring partial mastectomy
That left a huge raggedy scar in the first place now pounds
To pieces
A wound head-set fifty times more implacable and more intractable
Than the psychological chasm produced by the healing process
That was twice as enormously damaging as the surgery
Which left a huge raggedy scar

And so I go
on

Descent of the Composer

When I mention the ravages of now, I mean to say, then.
I mean to say the rough-hewn edges of time and space,
a continuum that folds back on itself in furtive attempts
to witness what was, what is, and what will be. But what

I actually mean is that time and space have rough-hewn edges.
Do I know this for sure? No, I’m no astrophysicist. I have yet
to witness what was, what is, and what will be. But what
I do know, I know well: bodies defying spatial constraint.

Do I know this for sure? No, I’m no scientist. I have yet
to prove that defiant bodies even exist as a theory; I offer
what I know. I know damn well my body craves the past tense,
a planet in chronic retrograde, searching for sun’s shadow.

As proof that defiant bodies exist in theory, I even offer
what key evidence I have: my life and Mercury’s swift orbits, or
two planets in chronic retrograde, searching for sun’s shadow.
Which is to say, two objects willfully disappearing from present view.

Perhaps life is nothing more than swift solar orbits, or dual
folds along a continuum that collapse the end and the beginning,
which implies people can move in reverse, will their own vanishing;
or at least relive the ravages of then—right here, right now.