A tryst.
That ends
in a nightly dose.

A contradiction,
emptiness
refused by starlight,

the dark
enflamed with error.
Tell me again

what crime you are
so guilty of?
The hot tub,

26 Seconal—
the moon
like ejaculate.

Delicate.
Poor
Barlow,

you felt
so alone;
you were

the only queer.
January 1, 1951.
In the semantics of

your translation
you intend, in Náhuatl
a long while,

to abandon
your cadaver.
There.

Demon and The Dove

The psychotherapist has a sad dove 
dying in his eye. He looks at the light
like wood holding fire in it
reflected in small caves 
and tells me there is a window where love weeps
over what it cannot know. The dove's

trembling, flickering like a sun alone
in the dark nest of his face, and the psychotherapist 
is saying, there is nothing like losing your Self
for a Demon. We walk in to each other 
as into a museum, and our portraits gleam. This sounds
like he's saying our deaths are old, they
may not even belong to us. In the end, our meeting
is just the fantasy

we've been looking for all along. Yes,
Yes, I say, I've come here to burn for you 
all my illusions. Yes, I say, I can see
you for who you are like I can see
the mother huddling her chicks in the sea cliff
in your inkblot, before she pecks their eyes large 
as blood grapes and eats them 
alive, the storm 

clouds rupturing that purple 
slag of lightning. What I want is to hold you
like a bell holds space 
between the hours. What I want is to get back
one with the other, self 
with dove, desire with the storm

inside that destroys
absence like a murderous blood. What I want
is a therapy like a first love—merciless 
fascination—my eyes looking in 
like the crazed bells of silence
to startle the mortal 
coil. This 
romance of self

you can't escape, and you don't want to.

Year of the Tiger

This new Chinese New Year we were in a film
Holding hands and daring each other
To close our eyes in the surrounding mayhem
On one beautiful hell of a dancefloor
In memory, in black-and-white
Two strangers clutching in a crowd. Like close-ups

By Fellini, the drunk midget and the wounded
Cripple dancing on a cane,
The pit-roasted pig with its pineapple glaze,
Nothing but the excrement
Of blissful minutes, budsmoke, temporary inebriation
The rooftop clamor at last
Falling off the cliffside of a starry abyss

And braceleted Madonna in 1983
Still digitally singing, you must be
My lucky star, cuz you shine on me
Wherever you are—and I can feel it
That splendid nothingness of wine and vicodin

Like someone hypnotized by the fireworks
Of being alive inside an accident
Like this body—
A sickness that feels the same as a cliché.
Let’s get out of here, I say, and kiss you
To celebrate the darkening

Damaged miraculous happiness—
To enter the opening coffin-like fact of each other.
For no reason some night happening to me
Is happening to me. O my lucky fucking
Star, I want to use
Your sweaty machinery. We are infinite

Tonight! We’ll never wake to touch like this again.

The Sunlight

You wouldn’t know it could feel so redundant—
the wolfish starlings plunder the grass
and nothing burns. Big Sur. We came here to rest.
The coast, a color. The thought of nothing,
the blue middle of my life—
                                                     A cliff side and a footpath
down to the small beach. And fire, there
a cold wind. Long waves the whole year—restless,
leafy and metallic,
                                       the brightness of ash. The sunlight
like something from Tarkovsky, one pointless, small ambition
in which passion turns into a terrifying tenderness. Deep
cargo in the hull; heartache. And somehow you knew
you should light the match, like a person condemned
to whom the starlight is
another brief monument to what
                                                                     is fallible. Your life,
little fireling, little warlike starling, flickering indignantly, all
erotic umbrage. Broken wing in my hand. Pathological, shy
flame, I will care for you. Little shape of my fate, my
certain failure. What
                                   is desire, if not
this burden. Dearth and glut
cupped in your hands: wild, deadheaded, and blue.

Related Poems

Useless Landscape

A lone cloudburst hijacked the Doppler radar screen, a bandit
hung from the gallows, in rehearsal for the broke-necked man,
damn him, tucked under millet in the potter's plot. Welcome
to disaster's alkaline kiss, its little clearing edged with twigs,
and posted against trespass. Though finite, its fence is endless.

Lugs of prune plums already half-dehydrated. Lugged toward
shelf life and sorry reconstitution in somebody's eggshell kitchen.
If you hear the crop-dust engine whining overhead, mind
the orange windsock's direction, lest you huff its vapor trail.
Scurry if you prefer between the lime-sulphured rows, and cull
from the clods and sticks, the harvest shaker's settling.

The impertinent squalls of one squeezebox vies against another
in ambling pick-ups. The rattle of dice and spoons. The one café
allows a patron to pour from his own bottle. Special: tripe today.
Goat's head soup. Tortoise-shaped egg bread, sugared pink.
The darkness doesn't descend, and then it descends so quickly
it seems to seize you in burly arms. I've been waiting all night
to have this dance. Stay, it says. Haven't touched your drink.

Broken Retablo for Being on My Back, My Feet Bare & in the Air

                                  Caliche. Great bird, woodsmoke, needle. Snake, owl. Nopal vibration.

Almost every day 
	     of my life 
I have wanted 

to be filled. 

By something: 
a great bird, woodsmoke, 
	    wild laughters, 

an untethered

tongue. 
When I’m on my back, 
		          any yell 
can be a needle, 

any breath 
	   works as thread. 

On asphalt 
	    or caliche, 

in dirt, 
my feet bare their crooked 
		        hymns: 

hoping to be entered. 

I don’t own words 
		         for every sound 

I feel. 
I don’t own words 
for breath 

I stuff back into my body 

after loving 
	     & not being loved. 

but Who isn’t
in love with at least one
seam, a sound:
	   one vibration

of this world?

Ask any bolus of owls,
	    ask víboras.

Ask the nopales
	     of certainty
& joy.	

But who owns 
	     any certainty, really?
Any word?

& who still speaks
	     the languages

of víboras & caliche,

& who will reteach my body
that language

	     of great birds & nopal?

Standards

and again the test comes back negative for waterborne parasites
for gonorrhea of the throat and of elsewhere       for white blood cells in the stool

this isn’t always true       sometimes it’s a phone call from your lover
sometimes it’s your computer blinking on with news of what’s wrong
              with your body    this time

simple really       how he says the name of a disease
and suddenly you’re on your back           staring out the window onto a highway

suddenly a woman enters the room       to wrap a black cuff around your arm
and squeeze until you’re no longer sick

to slip a device under your tongue       check in your sweat’s accompanied
by the heat it demanded

and aren’t we all of elsewhere sometimes     the nowhere places you make yourself
inside the hallowed chambers of the hospital    and inside the man’s unsure voice

when he calls and is too scared to name the precise strain of letters
you might share now       what parasite might feed on the topsoil of your groin

what laugh track                   what tabernacle unlatched to let all that god in
what bacteria spreading its legs in your throat      as you speak

when the illness is terminal            you drink an eighth of paint thinner
while all the color drains from your face

all those little rocks in your gut turned to buses    all those buses full of strange men
each     one degree apart        all going somewhere and gone now

funny how a word can do that       garage the body

what if instead he’d simply called to say     epithalamium    or new car    or   sorry