Unmarked

                      for Natalie

So much like sequins
the sunlight on this river.
Something like that kiss—
 
remember?
Fourth of July, with the moon
down early	the air moved
 
as if it were thinking,
as if it had begun
to understand
 
how hard it is 
to feel at home
in the world,
 
but that night
she found a place
just above your shoulder
 
and pressed her lips
there. Soft rain
 
had called off the fireworks:
the sky was quiet, but
back on Earth
 
two boys cruised by on bikes
trying out bad words. You turned
to reach her mouth,
 
at last, with yours	after weeks
of long walks, talking
 
about former loves
gone awry—
 
how the soul finally
falls down
 
and gets up alone
once more
 
finding the city strange,
the streets unmarked.

Every time you meet someone
it’s hard not to wonder
 
who they’ve been—one story
breaking so much
 
into the next: memory
engraves its hesitations—
 
but that night
you found yourself
unafraid. Do you remember
 
what the wind told the trees
about her brown hair?—
how the cool dark turned around:
 
that first kiss,
long as a river.
 
Didn’t it seem like you already loved her?
 
Off the sidewalk: a small pond,
the tall cattails, all those sleepy koi
 
coloring the water.

More by Tim Seibles

Faith

Picture a city
and the survivors: from their
windows, some scream. Others
walk the aftermath: blood
and still more blood coming
from the mouth of a girl.

This is the same movie
playing all over
the world: starring everybody
who ends up where the action
is: lights, cameras, close-ups—that
used to be somebody's leg.

Let's stop talking
about God. Try to shut-up
about heaven: some of our friends
who should be alive       are no longer alive.
Moment by moment death moves
and memory doesn't remember,

not for long: even today—even
having said
this, even knowing that
someone is stealing
our lives—I still
had lunch.

Tell the truth. If you can.
Does it matter     who they were,
the bodies in the rubble: could it matter

that the girl was conceived by two people
buried in each other's arms, believing
completely in the world between them?

The commanders are ready. The gunners
go everywhere. Almost all of them
believe in God. But somebody should

hold a note     for the Earth,
a few words for whatever being

human     could mean
beneath the forgotten sky:

some day one night,
when the city lights go out for good,

you won't believe how many stars

Vendetta, May 2006

My thoughts are murder to the State and involuntarily go plotting against her.
          —Henry David Thoreau

As if leaving
it behind would
have me lost
in this place, as if

keeping it
could somehow
save me from the
parade of knives,

I have held
my rage on a short
leash like a good,
mad dog whose bright

teeth could keep
the faces of our enemies
well lit. Is it

wrong to hate
the leaders? Am I wrong
to hate their silk
ties and their

secret economies?
Am I wrong? Am I?
Look how they

work the stage
like cool comedians,
ribbing the nations this
way, then that—

gaff after giggle
filling the auditoriums
with the empty
skulls. Maybe this

is the moment
to abandon
metaphor: shouldn't somebody
make them

suffer: now that
war is easy money,
won't the reasons
keep coming to see

how well
people die?

     I guess this
is the world
I was born

into: moonlight,
sunshine—kind city

of my mother's lap, my
father     tossing me

up     and catching me—

I remember
the first time I saw

autumn     outside
my window: the colors

came with the smell
of burning

leaves     and starving
in our basement,

the crickets
trying to stave off

the chill, still working
their little whistles
after dark.

     I think, even
then, I knew a season
would come
for us: the wind

tilting slowly, but
suddenly everyone
is under the cold

still holding on
to their wallets
as the government

quietly turns     and day
after day, the terrible stories

cover everything.

Ode to My Hands

Five-legged pocket spiders, knuckled
starfish, grabbers of forks, why
do I forget that you love me:
your willingness to button my shirts,
tie my shoes—even scratch my head!
which throbs like a traffic jam, each thought
leaning on its horn. I see you

waiting anyplace always
at the ends of my arms—for the doctor,
for the movie to begin, for
freedom—so silent, such
patience! testing the world
with your bold myopia: faithful,
ready to reach out at my
softest suggestion, to fly up
like two birds when I speak, two
brown thrashers brandishing verbs
like twigs in your beaks, lifting
my speech the way pepper springs
the tongue from slumber. O!

If only they knew the unrestrained
innocence of your intentions,
each finger a cappella, singing
a song that rings like rain
before it falls—that never falls!
Such harmony: the bass thumb, the
pinkie's soprano, the three tenors
in between: kind quintet x 2
rowing my heart like a little boat
upon whose wooden seat I sit
strummed by Sorrow. Or maybe

I misread you completely
and you are dreaming a tangerine, one
particular hot tamale, a fabulous
banana! to peel suggestively,
like thigh-high stockings: grinning
as only hands can grin
down the legs—caramel, cocoa,
black-bean black, vanilla—such lubricious
dimensions, such public secrets!
Women sailing the streets
with God's breath at their backs.
Think of it! No! Yes:
let my brain sweat, make my
veins whimper: without you, my five-hearted
fiends, my five-headed hydras, what
of my mischievous history? The possibilities
suddenly impossible—feelings
not felt, rememberings un-
remembered—all the touches
untouched: the gallant strain

of a pilfered ant, tiny muscles
flexed with fight, the gritty
sidewalk slapped after a slip, the pulled
weed, the plucked flower—a buttercup!
held beneath Dawn's chin—the purest kiss,
the caught grasshopper's kick, honey,
chalk, charcoal, the solos teased
from guitar. Once, I played
viola for a year and never stopped

to thank you—my two angry sisters,
my two hungry men—but you knew
I just wanted to know
what the strings would say
concerning my soul, my whelming
solipsism: this perpetual solstice
where one + one = everything
and two hands teach a dawdler
the palpable alchemy
of an unreasonable world.

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INSERT SHOT: Einstein’s notebook 1905—DAY 1: a theory that is based on two postulates (a) that the speed of light in all inertial frames is constant, independent of the source or observer. As in, the speed of light emitted from the truth is the same as that of a lie coming from the lamp of a face aglow with trust, and (b) the laws of physics are not changed in all inertial systems, which leads to the equivalence of mass and energy and of change in mass, dimension, and time; with increased velocity, space is compressed in the direction of the motion and time slows down. As when I look at Mileva, it’s as if I’ve been in a space ship traveling as close to the speed of light as possible, and when I return, years later, I’m younger than when I began the journey, but she’s grown older, less patient. Even a small amount of mass can be converted into enormous amounts of energy: I’ll whisper her name in her ear, and the blood flows like a mallet running across vibes. But another woman shoots me a flirting glance, and what was inseparable is now cleaved in two.