for the two of me

the thing that eats the heart is mostly heart
and there
I wish, in the burly sun blossom-backwards garden I was hungry,
so damn hungry and afraid again by full open-mouth-desire.
Don’t take this as a garrote good-bye, your airless thrive ride.
I alone, fear being alone, far from the blood vocabulary. I wish
I knew where I put my fear sitting in the childhood past, in
its zoo, sitting on the winding Escher stairs, saying this out loud
to my dead mother, so loud a lion’s head in the mouth loud
it catches audience breath for breath measure, making us go
home to say it to the father, dead and down, holding court with outbreak.
You can’t hear me say this, off as asymmetry cry.
                                                                You too are dead in the                circus heart alone
because they really are all gone, and can’t feed you anymore.
You can’t sit in the lap, on the headmouth, slow kneel on the floor;
you can’t sit in the cement highchair, sit in this landscape room, this
come to crime test, alive here for feeling, or take me
to nothing sound-past longing with the lion
who won’t eat you, who won’t eat me, facing
the animal garden, shaking his yellow haystack head.


my heart keeps breaking does not stop breaking
Agha Shahid Ali

            What are the chances, Shahid, you will 
yardstick your way out of the wintering ground’s 
pinafore of snow with the identical song 
memory now recites for me, 
like the time our car stuttered to a stop
in the middle of the street, or when those orchids 
bordering the far side of the walk had to be 
wing bones once, the prehistoric gull’s flight before 
consciousness was pegged by man,
before rain shuddered like a crowd’s deafening voice, 
that same pitch loneliness factors from silence, 
or when one’s hands and knees are on the earth 
and sorrow becomes a hundred silver fish heads 
thrown in a market in China. How 
burnt grass in California carried a warning wind 
that still hurts someone’s lungs in upper Canada. . . 
            What, what are the chances a piece of my flesh 
glow-wormed its way into your heart as a single word 
would in the future of someone’s open mouth, or that 
the ones we loved were once the ones we hated, how 
my undoing passion for Moon Jellyfish means the next 
life will be empty freedom and all sex, or opposite:
a taproot set in the garden where 
the impress darkness smells like saffron and blood 
as it retrieves the desert’s mirage water
over and over again, all the while we’re here, 
knowing this loss phrases some god’s gain or damn,
that obsidian wasn’t merely volcanic glass 
but the last jewel set deep in your brain?

Related Poems


                (St. Laurent Sur Mer, June 5, 2009)

Sometimes the day
                              light winces 
                              behind you and it is
a great treasure in this case today a man on
                              a horse in calm full
                              gallop on Omaha over my
                              left shoulder coming on
                              fast but
calm not audible to me at all until I turned back my
                              head for no
                              reason as if what lies behind
                              one had whispered
what can I do for you today and I had just
                              turned to
                              answer and the answer to my
answer flooded from the front with the late sun he/they
                              were driving into—gleaming—
                              wet chest and upraised knees and
light-struck hooves and thrust-out even breathing of the great
                              beast—from just behind me,
                              passing me—the rider looking straight
                              ahead and yet
smiling without looking at me as I smiled as we
                              both smiled for the young
                              animal, my feet in the
breaking wave-edge, his hooves returning, as they begin to pass
                              to the edge of the furling
                              break, each tossed-up flake of
                              ocean offered into the reddish
luminosity—sparks—as they made their way,
                              boring through to clear out
                              life, a place where no one
                              again is suddenly 
killed—regardless of the "cause"—no one—just this
                              galloping forward with
                              force through the low waves, seagulls
                              scattering all round, their
screeching and mewing rising like more bits of red foam, the
                              horse's hooves now suddenly
                              louder as it goes
                              by and its prints on
wet sand deep and immediately filled by thousands of
                              sandfleas thrilled to the
declivities in succession in the newly
                              released beach—just
                              at the right
                              moment for some
microscopic life to rise up through these
                              cups in the hard upslant
                              retreating ocean is
revealing, sandfleas finding them just as light does,
                              carving them out with
                              shadow, and glow on each
                              ridge, and
water oozing up through the innermost cut of the
and when I shut my eyes now I am not like a blind person
                              walking towards the lowering sun,
the water loud at my right,
                              but like a seeing person
with her eyes shut
                              putting her feet down
                              one at a time
                              on the earth.