He sat cross-legged, weeping on the steps when Mom unlocked and opened the front door. O God, he said, O God. He wants to kill me, Mom. When Mom unlocked and opened the front door at 3 a.m., she was in her nightgown, Dad was asleep. He wants to kill me, he told her, looking over his shoulder. 3 a.m. and in her nightgown, Dad asleep, What's going on? she asked, Who wants to kill you? He looked over his shoulder. The devil does. Look at him, over there. She asked, What are you on? Who wants to kill you? The sky wasn't black or blue but the green of a dying night. The devil, look at him, over there. He pointed to the corner house. The sky wasn't black or blue but the dying green of night. Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives. My brother pointed to the corner house. His lips flickered with sores. Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives. O God, I can see the tail, he said, O God, look. Mom winced at the sores on his lips. It's sticking out from behind the house. O God, see the tail, he said, Look at the goddamned tail. He sat cross-legged, weeping on the front steps. Mom finally saw it, a hellish vision, my brother. O God, O God, she said.
Manhattan is a Lenape Word
It is December and we must be brave.
The ambulance’s rose of light
blooming against the window.
Its single siren-cry: Help me.
A silk-red shadow unbolting like water
through the orchard of her thigh.
Her, come—in the green night, a lion.
I sleep her bees with my mouth of smoke,
dip honey with my hands stung sweet
on the darksome hive.
Out of the eater I eat. Meaning,
She is mine, colony.
The things I know aren’t easy:
I’m the only Native American
on the 8th floor of this hotel or any,
looking out any window
of a turn-of-the-century building
Manhattan is a Lenape word.
Even a watch must be wound.
How can a century or a heart turn
if nobody asks, Where have all
the natives gone?
If you are where you are, then where
are those who are not here? Not here.
Which is why in this city I have
many lovers. All my loves
are reparations loves.
What is loneliness if not unimaginable
light and measured in lumens—
an electric bill which must be paid,
a taxi cab floating across three lanes
with its lamp lit, gold in wanting.
At 2 a.m. everyone in New York City
is empty and asking for someone.
Again, the siren’s same wide note:
Help me. Meaning, I have a gift
and it is my body, made two-handed
of gods and bronze.
She says, You make me feel
like lightning. I say, I don’t ever
want to make you feel that white.
It’s too late—I can’t stop seeing
her bones. I’m counting the carpals,
metacarpals of her hand inside me.
One bone, the lunate bone, is named
for its crescent outline. Lunatus. Luna.
Some nights she rises like that in me,
like trouble—a slow luminous flux.
The streetlamp beckons the lonely
coyote wandering West 29th Street
by offering its long wrist of light.
The coyote answers by lifting its head
and crying stars.
Somewhere far from New York City,
an American drone finds then loves
a body—the radiant nectar it seeks
through great darkness—makes
a candle-hour of it, and burns
gently along it, like American touch,
an unbearable heat.
The siren song returns in me,
I sing it across her throat: Am I
what I love? Is this the glittering world
I’ve been begging for?