The Sleeping Husband

This massive apartment: a whole room left
Empty to air, where we used to sleep.
So many steps on the waxed wood, like off turns
On the dial of a lock whose combination one’s lost—
All decaying about me like empire,
The moldings moldering while I sit frozen
As a swan on the surface of a lake changing to ice.
Fruit flies and mosquitoes, a water bug,
Carpet beetles, the mouse found behind the couch
Months after it’d shrunk to a puff of fur:
Nothing to eat here but beer and more dark.
The shower where someone’s young wife died
In an explosion of epilepsy while he slept.
One wonders what he was dreaming then.
The same dreams we once made here, maybe.

Rime Riche

You need me like ice needs the mountain 
On which it breeds. Like print needs the page.
You move in me like the tongue in a mouth,
Like wind in the leaves of summer trees,
Gust-fists, hollow except for movement and desire
Which is movement. You taste me the way the claws
Of a pigeon taste that window-ledge on which it sits,
The way water tastes rust in the pipes it shuttles through
Beneath a city, unfolding and luminous with industry. 
Before you were born, the table of elements 
Was lacking, and I as a noble gas floated 
Free of attachment. Before you were born, 
The sun and the moon were paper-thin plates 
Some machinist at his desk merely clicked into place.

Anatomy

Man shaped out of mud
And made to speak and love—
Let's stick in him a little whisperer,

A bucket with two holes.
Let's give him the Great Deceiver,
A blood-stone.

A church with a vaulted ceiling
Where the White and Blue Niles meet.
A dog who cries after dark.

Everyone has a heart,
Even the people who don't.
It floats up like a beached whale in the autopsy.

The heart has no sense of humor.
It offers itself piteously like a pair of handcuffs,
And is so clumsy that we turn away.

The past 
Is a quarryful of marble statues
With heads and genitals erased,

But the heart is a muscle made of sharkbone and mutters,
Resting place softened with hay
Where all the cows come home, finally.

Poetry

There is nothing beautiful here
However I may want it. I can’t
Spin a crystal palace of this thin air,
Weave a darkness plush as molefur with my tongue
However I want. Yet I am not alone
In these alleys of vowels, which comfort me
As the single living nun of a convent
Is comforted by the walls of that catacomb
She walks at night, lit by her own moving candle.
I am not afraid of mirrors or the future
—Or even you, lovers, wandering cow-fat
And rutting in the gardens of this earthly verge
Where I too trod, a sunspot, parasol-shaded,
Kin to the trees, the bees, the color green.

Related Poems

Heavy

The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath

my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.

Often, I want to return to my old body
a body I also hated, but hate less

given knowledge.
Sometimes my friends—my friends

who are always beautiful & heartbroken
look at me like they know

I will die before them.
I think the life I want

is the life I have, but how can I be sure?
There are days when I give up on my body

but not the world. I am alive.
I know this. Alive now

to see the world, to see the river
rupture everything with its light.