Meditation on the Veranda

Bliss—right now:
beneath a blue jade
vine’s beaded bangs,

my sonar function
asleep, the I unstressed,
a syllable glided over.

(Except wherever
in the line it’s placed,
the I is stressed.)

Behind me, a lipstick palm.
In front of me, the early
stages of sunrise,

the world before
highlighter’s applied.

The Lightning Field, 6

6.
a patch of virga/a verse paragraph
slant marks/slashing the sky/silvered in a shaft
of sunlight/pellucid virgules marking time
and pitch in a run of silent recitativo
no skittering drops/no rivulets of rhyme
shearing off the windshield/dripping from eaves
from leaves/self-contained/this sheet of rain
evaporates/is throttled/bottlenecked
in the sky's throat/never nears/never
grazes/never wets/the tantalized ground
virginal downpour/suspended mid-fall
coitus interruptus/a phone call/a second
thought/a punctured tire/a pummeled breast
no/no/no/no/no
the milk/won't come/the seed/won't plant/the womb
nulliparous/swells anyhow/the rain
falls/and does not fall/stalled/the drops
make no discernible sound/a sob/a soughing
at the wheel/to our right/never overhead
not in reach/always down the road
an etching/scraped/scraped out/scarring the sky
a series of caesuras/a fractured field
a field of splintered bones/of lines broken
into spits smaller than feet/smaller than
a fetus/embryonic/the arrested rain

Arthritis

"Save your hands,” my mother says,
seeing me untwist a jar's tight cap—

just the way she used to tell me
not to let boys fool around, or feel

my breasts: "keep them fresh
for marriage,” as if they were a pair

of actual fruit. I scoffed
to think they could bruise, scuff,

soften, rot, wither. I look down now
at my knuckly thumbs, my index finger

permanently askew in the same classic
crook as hers, called a swan's neck,

as if snapped, it's that pronounced.
Even as I type, wondering how long

I'll be able to—each joint in my left hand
needing to be hoisted, prodded, into place,

one knuckle like a clock's dial clicking
as it's turned to open, bend or unbend.

I balk at the idea that we can overuse
ourselves, must parcel out and pace

our energies so as not to run out of any
necessary component while still alive—

the definition of "necessary” necessarily
suffering change over time. 

The only certainty is uncertainty, I thought
I knew, so ignored whatever she said

about boys and sex: her version of
a story never mine. It made me laugh,

the way she made up traditions, that we
didn't kiss boys until a certain age, we

didn't fool around. What we? What part of me
was she? No part I could put my finger on.

How odd, then, one day, to find her
half-napping in her room, talking first

to herself and then to me, about a boy
she used to know, her friend's brother,

who she kissed, she said, just because 
he wanted her to. "Now why would I do that,”

she mused, distraught anew and freshly
stung by the self-betrayal. So much 

I still want to do with my hands—
type, play, cook, caress, swipe, re-trace.

Related Poems

Meditation on Rain

In a blue collusion of dusk
and rain, the sky’s darkly shaking
like horsetails flicking

                off bloodflies. As you’d try
switching off half-truths that fed
on your skin, their little bites
                distracting you
from harder pain.

                Nothing a hoof could gallop from. Nothing to ride here
but air
                coolly passing from stable to woods—
each leaf a perforated heart—

to the front porch of the blue house. As you ascend,
                the steps darken behind you, night
has its own quiet stepping—it is not
                an abyss, not amorphous
as once you felt—.

How wavery the rain at the threshhold—

Here

There is nothing concrete to grasp in
looking into the morning sky

The evidence of red-eye
flights east a plane drawn line presents

is not a wheelbarrow solid enough
dependency as day and night

carry   in coming and going
You don't see the poem

saying anything you can't see in it
White dashes of contrails'

seemingly unmoving streak towards sunrise
disquiet the pale otherwise

unpunctuated blue of dawn   
breaks it off                Here is that silence

Moon Seen Through Windshield

If you are anything like I am
and I have faith that you are
then you have already stepped
out of your body
and been irrevocably wounded

I was born in 1969
Chances are you were born
during a different year
It doesn’t matter if you were born
three thousand years ago

or if you are born
three thousand years from now
we share what it means to live

Maybe you have gone
back into your body

and found words
the only guide
into the known dark

We are both the living and the dead
the stuff beyond theory

Sometimes it is too much
and other times not enough

We wake to a morning fog
We wake to morning sun
We sit in a cold evening
thinking of the death of a parent

A different evening
has us thinking of our eyes
and how they crawled
out of our minds

at some point
in the evolution of the self

It is the evening of the first day
of a new year
I ask myself What have you done
The list is remarkable