My Einsteinicity

Let y equal any number of fathers.
Let x equal the numberless planets.
Let y minus x equal long nights of fog
and let x plus y equal hydra & incubus.

If y is > x, why do all my convictions gape?
If x is > y, does “father” just mean nightcap?
When x ÷ y, we set sail on a windjammer.
When y ÷ x, watch for the banshee, the jinn.

Or let x be replaced by a midsummer night
and y by—well, you can never replace y but
by morning y will lollygag near half-moons:
Odysseus sailing to Ithaca, mildew as it rots.

And a b is no mere theory of relativity: it is
helter-skelter materfamilias, Ma Barker, and
Rebekkah, the mother who deceived. Not
Sarah who couldn’t conceive nor the Mother

of all of Nature: the black tern, the kittiwake;
plants ornamental, baroque; the cumulous,
the nebulosus; and yet, mother-of-pearl and
ice-cold, tiger’s-eye and monkey in the middle.

Let’s say a b is a % of all the love in the world
or synonymous with do you love me now that
I can dance? Let’s agree that a is the salsa or
paso doble and b is always always the beguine.

When Nothing Else Will Do

I don’t want to pluck my burr from your flesh
nor do I want to be kind Or if I am to be kind

I want to be a kind of chameleon,
                                         night-blue florescent

I want to kill that gnat on the wall
but I don’t want to Hoover under
    our once-bed, site of our rub-a-dub

I don’t want to be a full set
of some starlet’s perfect teeth &
despite having nothing to boost, I want

to walk around wearing only my bustier
    I don’t want to flower unless
I narcissus (and yes,

I will honor—& always—
    my fey black body, our first
delights, and our mournings)

I want to tell your best mother everything:
    that I don’t want you to ever forget
my length of legs, both of my hands just there

I think I want to know what you want
    but, perhaps, I shouldn’t look in that mirror

because
    (& even because is a kind of want) so

just tell me—who have you been reading:
    Kafka Morrison manga for animé?

All I want is for my hair to a n e m o n e—
    & for the not-wanting to go for broke

while I drink honey bourbon and listen
    again then over again— Not A Day Goes By

A Birth Mother Wears A Costume Her Daughter Will Never Fit In

Some thought the mother said taproot
Some thought that woman said resigned

but her daughter mouthed immaculately conceived

Some thought the mother said perdition
Some thought she said hocus pocus

while her daughter wrote parables wrote charms

Some hoped the daughter would say yes, honey
(although they suspected the daughter said wishbone—

knew she would deny everything, slipping into, out of)

Some never understood the daughter’s need
to be alone, her fear of sorcery—they only knew

her as braid of ginger & sea salt
as weightless darling & origami

Some have heard her bark & bark & bark
Some have heard her arrange a resistance

Langston Won't Stay In His Grave

calls me rose of neon darkness, calls him-
self early blue evening, black smoke of
sound. Says we are related, you and I,

reminds me we are wandering in the dusk,
our faces a chocolate bar, facing the night
of two moons. And though I’m a lonely little

question mark, he laughs. Life is for the living
with gypsies and sailors. `Til the old junk man
Death plants your toes in the cool swamp mud,

shake your brown feet, honey. Wander through
this living world—get out the lunch box of your
dreams. Stay awake all night with loving or be

a woman in the doorway. Death don’t ring no
doorbells or say here is that sleeping place as if
it were some noble thing. Think how thin and

sharp the moon is tonight. Don’t mind dyin’,
veiling what darkness hides. Haunt like mystery,
like a naked bone in gumbo. Nod at the sun.

Related Poems

Ledger

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is 3,592 measures.
A voice kept far from feeling is heard as measured.
What’s wanted in desperate times are desperate measures.
Pushkin’s unfinished Onegin: 5,446 lines.

No visible tears measure the pilot’s grief
as she Lidars the height of an island: five feet.
Fifty, its highest leaf.
She logs the years, the weathers, the tree has left.

A million fired-clay bones—animal, human—
set down in a field as protest
measure 400 yards long, 60 yards wide, weigh 112 tons.
The length and weight and silence of the bereft.

Bees do not question the sweetness of what sways beneath them.
One measure of distance is meters. Another is li.
Ten thousand li can be translated: “far.”
For the exiled, home can be translated “then,” translated “scar.”

One liter
of Polish vodka holds twelve pounds of potatoes.
What we care about most, we call beyond measure.
What matters most, we say counts. Height now is treasure.

On this scale of one to ten, where is eleven?
Ask all you wish, no twenty-fifth hour will be given.
Measuring mounts—like some Western bar’s mounted elk head—
our cataloged vanishing unfinished heaven.

—2016

Calculations

“I don’t know what to tell you.
Your daughter doesn’t understand
math. Numbers trouble her, leave
her stuck on ground zero.”

                               Y fueron los mayas
                               quienes imaginaron el cero,
                               un signo para nada, para todo,
                               en sus gran calculaciones.

                Is zero the velvet swoop into dream,
                the loop into plumes of our breath?

“I suggest you encourage languages.
Already she knows a little Spanish,
and you can teach her more of that.
She lives for story time.”

                In the beginning there was nothing.
                Then the green of quetzal wings.

                               Las historias siguen cambiando,
                               sus verdades vigorizadas
                               con cada narración
                               como X x X = X2

Wrong Question

Then I was a safe house
for the problem that chose me.
Like pure math, my results
were useless for industry:
not a clear constellation,
a scattered cluster, a bound
gap. When I looked I found
an explorer bent. Love

never dies a natural death.
It happens in a moment.
Everything hinges on
a delicate understanding.
Even the most trusted caregiver
is only trusted for so long.