from “Pink Waves”


it was a wave, it was infectious

an occasional moment reveals nothing but a passing light

extent to which i breathe your facts

it’s haptic; it’s your membrane; it’s material clatter

sliding between your stargazing hoax and flesh

and then somebody steals your wild you

and names it

after a sharp thought

a quiet neck is often indifferent to the mismeasured noise of the world 

substrata lower than the territory concedes

sharp pointed arrows indicate the lack of an end

simulated spacial deadline

a hip, stigmata, shake

she was a threnody hit; she happened; she pitched 

i did love it

geometry of pleasure

Swimming in the Presence of Lurid Opposition

Summer camp, swim class, Tokyo, a group of no more than twenty ants all donning their respective swimming caps, some with images of their favorite anime characters printed on the fabric. Forward progression, assisted by a rhythmic movement of ant limbs, just like the instructor instructed, forward forward progress, forward forward progress. The slowness, agonizing slowness of such, such poor swimmers these ants, most likely in the beginner class for sad ants with little ability. And then the However, the Big But, the Truth that reveals itself only after zooming out and away from what used to be a close-up shot of ants in an unusually colored swimming pool, such as red or green or pale fuchsia or celadon, the distance revealing the inherent difficulty of making a swimming pool out of a still-wet oil painting, the artist and brush hovering nearby like the evil clouds that they are.

Morning Song

Every time, these days, it seems, an equation gets forced. Forged:

                  far cry

                  low rise

                                and every morning sticks, figure A, for alas, stick figures, it
figures that we awaken in the same rectangle at different points on the time
line, these every days the sum of all our

                                                        angles, a beyond-complementary
rate, exceeding three hundred sixty, then three hundred sixty-five, three
hundred seventy

                        days, and angles, a supersaturated moon. Also it is morning
and I am far

                  from and I cry.

                                        The last ditch grows deeper and I stuff the
world into a quadratic of words, for example:              But-I-love-you.
       Place-in-the-box.         Pass-the-god-damn-butter.
                 That's four against three.                    Far against which cry.

Deflated Rubber Turkey

There is one atop each of the Girls’ heads. Clearly they have been playing this game for a while. There is only one girl whose turkey is still full of air, and that girl is Girl D. The game is called Duck, Duck, Turkey. They go through the motions of having an “it,” and having that “it” walk around the outside of the circle of sitting girls, tapping them on their turkey heads while saying, “duck, duck, duck, duck...” until they say “turkey!” while hitting the turkey on the head of a girl and then running around the circle, trying to sit down in the open spot in the circle before getting tagged. The general stance over here is based on the unshakeable belief that playing this game is going to lead to a better, more just society for all, once everybody’s turkey is equally deflated. And although most of the turkeys are, indeed, mostly deflated, none of the girls can keep themselves from glancing furtively at the head of Girl D, her hair positively radiant in the light bouncing off of the almost fully inflated rubber turkey on her head. How can this be? What is wrong with everyone else’s turkey? Did Girl D get a refill? Or more air than others to begin with? Is that really a turkey? Maybe Girl D’s turkey is not made out of rubber like the rest. What if the rubber turkey of Girl D was filled with turkey? 

Related Poems

Water in Love

How to love like water loves
when it’s impossible to even taste
all the ghostly sediments
each time you take a sip

Impossible to savor
the salt in your blood
the light and island shorelines
in each living cell

When even the plainest mouthful
tastes more of you than you of it



Sweetest of absences
that frees in wave after wave
debris of thought like the dead,
the drowned, the vanished, and yet
sails your lips
on a voyage toward another’s, plying
all luck and regret

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

Wasp and cactus in a desert
Comet through outer space
Sleep among all the cloud-shepherds’ children

A love so perpetually current
it doesn’t care that you love
without even knowing you love
what you couldn’t survive
three days without

How to love like that: wild
dream-sparkler and meticulous architect
of every snowflake
Wise, ebullient, and generous
as the rain

Deepest of miracles
for a time
borrowing and replenishing
a self
overflowing with fate

It would be water

how it comes from the sky because I am dry   because

I am thirsty    reaching down for roots I can feel

& up for dream & because I need the wet the release

of flood    but not too much   that would have been the daily

April poem then I snuck into a little place for pasta   talked

myself into believing I deserved a treat   thinking I was

anonymous   & there was Meena’s husband David with friends

eating & laughing   we greeted awkwardly   I stayed at my

corner table   red wine & rigatoni   all I could think about was

Meena’s thick shiny nearly black hair    how I didn’t manage

to visit her that last year of illness although I said I would

she sent me poem & photo    told about losing her hair

I said it looks beautiful short   that I was thinking of cutting

mine    don’t do it she said    don’t cut your hair then she 

was gone    her photo in my office so anyone who enters 

will know   her poems moving around like waves    tulip 

stems   high pitched elegant voice articulating 

how the world begins & ends     how verse continues 

                                                                            In memory, Meena Alexander

A Wave

of the past as I walk
by a window boarded-up

in winter and in

summer hot where
spiders lived and dust

filmed everything
in that storefront

that was his home. Or
a madcap air in May

or a combination
of words can bring

a voice to the surface
—it’s that I … at the

thought of him
which, more today

than yesterday,
is like approaching

a grave. His calls
before my first visit

flickered weekly,
are ash now. Cities

changed their names:
Madrid became

Corning became Davis,
South Bend,

D.C. I know
the beginnings

and the ends
of things. I

curb myself,
swallow what

cannot change.
But still, it is

there (he who
was torn

away no

needs). But isn’t
it time this grew

fruitful, time
I loose myself

and, though unsteady,
move on—the way

the arrow, suddenly
all vector

survives the string?

           with Akhmatova and Rilke
           for my father