Ultrasound

my father is tying concertina wire
around his garden which is
now all but ruined by
squirrels deer and worst
of all rabbits with cucumber
seeds stuck to their
tails     I am an apex predator my father is
an apex predator god makes
us in pairs      my mother searches the lawn
for four-leaf clovers pinning them
to a scrapbook pinning
moments to time she gives each clover
a name Buck Comes Onto Porch and
Hospital Note From Kaveh    while
she makes tea inside I search
the house for a lighter and can’t
even find matches       what I miss most
about winter is the brightness of
winter summer’s all foggy and
wet       my mother hovers in
the kitchen like a strange tune       she is out
of saffron and has no money
for more        she weeps over her
bleach-white rice until my
father comes in cracks an egg
over the plate bursts
the yolk says see says yellow       my mother
smiles so big and sad she wrinkles into
the future where my eyes
are yellow again maybe from the yolk
maybe something else       my fur is coming in
so thick my mother would squeal
with pride if she could see it     when she
was pregnant I kicked so hard so
often she could barely
sleep        staying up all
night she thought she must
be full of bunnies

The Perfect Poem

In god’s gleaming empire, herds of triceratops
lunge up on their hind legs to somersault
around the plains. The angels lie in the sun
using straight pins to eat hollyhocks. Mostly
they just rub their bellies and hum quietly

to themselves, but the few sentences
they do utter come out as perfect poems.
Here on earth we blather constantly, and
all we say is divided between combat
and seduction. Combat: I understand you perfectly. 
Seduction: Next time don’t say so out loud.
Here the perfect poem eats its siblings

in the womb like a sand shark or a star turning
black hole, then saunters into the world
daring us to stay mad. We know most of our
universe is missing. The perfect poem knows
where it went. The perfect poem is no bigger
than a bear. Its birthday hat comes with
a black veil which prattles on and on about

comet ash and the ten thousand buds of
the tongue. Like people and crows, the
perfect poem can remember faces and hold
grudges. It keeps its promises. The perfect
poem is not gold or lead or a garden gate
locked shut or a sail slapping in a storm.
The perfect poem is its own favorite toy.

It is not a state of mind or a kind of doubt
or a good or bad habit or a flower of any
color. It will not be available to answer
questions. The perfect poem is light as dust
on a bat’s wing, lonely as a single flea.

Ways to Harm a Thing

Throw scissors at it. 
Fill it with straw 
and set it on fire, or set it 
off for the colonies with only 
some books and dinner-
plates and a stuffed bear 
named Friend Bear for me 
to lose in New Jersey. 
Did I say me? Things 
have been getting
less and less hypothetical 
since I unhitched myself 
from your bedpost. Everyone 
I love is too modern 
to be caught
grieving. In order 
to be consumed 
first you need to be consumable, 
but there is not a single 
part of you I could fit 
in my mouth. In a dream
I pull back your foreskin
and reveal a fat vase 
stuffed with crow 
feathers. This seems a faithful
translation of the real thing. Another 
way to harm something is to 
melt its fusebox, 
make it learn to live
in the dark. I still want
to suck the bones out 
from your hands,
plant them like the seeds
we found in an antique 
textbook, though those 
never sprouted and may not 
have even been seeds. 
When I was a sailor I found 
a sunken ziggurat, spent 
weeks diving through room 
after room discovering
this or that sacred 
shroud. One way to bury
something is to bury it 
forever. When I was water
you poured me out
over the dirt.  

What Seems Like Joy

how much history is enough history     before we can agree
to flee our daycares      to wash everything away and start over
leaving laptops to be lost in the wet along with housecats and Christ’s
own mother      even a lobster climbs away from its shell a few
times a life      but every time I open my eyes I find
I am still inside myself     each epiphany dull and familiar
oh now I am barefoot       oh now I am lighting the wrong end
of a cigarette     I just want to be shaken new like a flag whipping
away its dust     want to pull out each of my teeth
and replace them with jewels     I’m told what seems like joy
is often joy     that the soul lives in the throat plinking
like a copper bell       I’ve been so young for so many years
it’s all starting to jumble together     joy jeweling copper   
its plink      a throat    sometimes I feel beautiful and near dying
like a feather on an arrow shot through a neck     other times
I feel tasked only with my own soreness      like a scab on the roof
of a mouth      my father believed in gardens      delighting
at burying each thing in its potential for growth     some years
the soil was so hard the water seeped down slower than the green
seeped up     still he’d say if you’re not happy in your own yard
you won’t be happy anywhere      I’ve never had a yard but I’ve had apartments
where water pipes burst above my head      where I’ve scrubbed
a lover’s blood from the kitchen tile       such cleaning
takes so much time you expect there to be confetti at the end    
what we’ll need in the next life      toothpaste      party hats
and animal bones      every day people charge out of this world    
squealing       good-bye human behavior!      so long acres
of germless chrome!      it seems gaudy for them to be so cavalier
with their bliss      while I’m still here lurching into my labor
hanging by my hair from the roof of a chapel      churchlight thickening
around me     or wandering into the woods to pull apart eggshells     emptying
them in the dirt      then sewing them back together to dry in the sun

Related Poems

Black Swan

I told the boy I found him under a bush.
What was the harm? I told him he was sleeping   
And that a black swan slept beside him,
The swan’s feathers hot, the scent of the hot feathers   
And of the bush’s hot white flowers
As rank and sweet as the stewed milk of a goat.   
The bush was in a strange garden, a place   
So old it seemed to exist outside of time.   
In one spot, great stone steps leading nowhere.
In another, statues of horsemen posting giant stone horses   
Along a high wall. And here, were triangular beds   
Of flowers flush with red flowers. And there,   
Circular beds flush with white. And in every bush   
And bed flew small birds and the cries of small birds.   
I told the boy I looked for him a long time   
And when I found him I watched him sleeping,   
His arm around the swan’s moist neck,   
The swan’s head tucked fast behind the boy’s back,   
The feathered breast and the bare breast breathing as one,   
And then very swiftly and without making a sound,   
So that I would not wake the sleeping bird,   
I picked the boy up and slipped him into my belly,   
The way one might slip something stolen   
Into a purse. And brought him here….
And so it was. And so it was. A child with skin   
So white it was not like the skin of a boy at all,
But like the skin of a newborn rabbit, or like the skin   
Of a lily, pulseless and thin. And a giant bird   
With burning feathers. And beyond them both   
A pond of incredible blackness, overarched
With ancient trees and patterned with shifting shades,   
The small wind in the branches making a sound
Like the knocking of a thousand wooden bells….   
Things of such beauty. But still I might
Have forgotten, had not the boy, who stands now   
To my waist, his hair a cap of shining feathers,
Come to me today weeping because some older boys   
Had taunted him and torn his new coat,   
Had he not, when I bent my head to his head,   
Said softly, but with great anger, “I wish I had never   
Been born. I wish I were back under the bush,”   
Which made the old garden rise up again,   
Shadowed and more strange. Small birds   
Running fast and the grapple of chill coming on.   
There was the pond, half-circled with trees. And there   
The flowerless bush. But there was no swan.   
There was no black swan. And beneath   
The sound of the wind, I could hear, dark and low,   
The giant stone hooves of the horses,   
Striking and striking the hardening ground.