We Are All God’s Poems

- 1970-

all I crave is light & yet
sky is busy imitating milk
frozen in an upturned bowl

to be a person is a sounding
            host of breath
rehoused & rib scribbled inside

you there above
                   the page
casting your gaze over us
wanting us to be your mouth

& what would you say
                     with my body
bowed to bear the weight
of a line so taut it sings


Wither me to within me:
Welt me to weal me common again:
Withdraw to wear me weary:
Over me to hover and lover again:

Before me to form and perform me:
Round me to rill me liquid incisions:
Behind me to hunt and haunt me:
Down me to drown indecision:

Bury me to seed me: bloom me
In loam me: grind me to meal me
Knead me to rise: raise me to your mouth

Rive me to river me:
End me to unmend me:
Rend me to render me:

Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker’s Stroke

How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,

the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British

now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books

over the wall, into a restaurant,
until she could bring them all,
like sandbags, into her home,

some thirty thousand of them,
before the library, and her brain,
could finally flood into flame.

For the Fifty (Who Formed PEACE With Their Bodies)

In the green beginning,
     in the morning mist,
          they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
     slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
          necks & tanks, Tommy’s & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
     abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
         & names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor’s rhetoric of defense,
     laying it down, their child-
          stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
     onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
          as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
     the shape of a word yet to come, almost
          embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
     of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
          they touch to make

the word they want to become:
     it’s difficult to get the news
          from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
     here: the fifty hold, & still
          to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
     themselves & themselves: the body,
          the dreaming disarmed body.

Related Poems

An Old Pew

for Ray

He wanted the God of the flannelgraph, God of the box of crayons, God of grape kool-aid and stale cookies, God of the paper tabernacle, God of the quiz bowl, God of the gold star, God of Aunt Maxine and Uncle Doug.

He got God of the tent meeting, the gospel revival, God of the cold immersion, God of the burning cross, God of Must the Young Die Too?, God of Brother Wyatt, God of the funeral flowers, God of the last verse, sung once again, for the lost, for the sinners, for the unsaved that remain out there—yes, you know who you are.

He wanted a song of the pitchpipe, song of the Rich Old King, song of the red and yellow black and white, song of clap your hands, song of stomp your feet, song of the happy shout, the song sung in rounds.

He heard the altar call song, the invitation song, the revival song, song about a fount of blood, song of the roll call and the last trumpet, song of being blind, song of sinking deep, song of the deep stain, song of the worm.


Let there be a song for the man who doesn’t sing. 

Let there be a song for the man who walks away, song of the dark hand, song of the wandering feet, song of the unsung.

Let there be a god of the night bloom, god of the guestroom, god of the quince and winter wheat, god of last call and first guess, god of the frozen drink, god of the hairy chest, god of the road trip, god of the home-grown, god of the homeward and homely, god of the shared home, a repurposed god, god of the unsaid, god of the old church pew at the foot of the bed.

Another Elegy

To believe in God is to love
What none can see. Let a lover go,

Let him walk out with the good
Spoons or die

Without a signature, and so much
Remains for scrubbing, for a polish

Cleaner than devotion. Tonight,
God is one spot, and you,

You must be one blind nun. You
Wipe, you rub, but love won’t move.

The Gods Are in the Valley

The mind sports god-extensions.

It's the mountain from which
        the tributaries spring: self, self, self, self—

        rivering up
                on curling plumes
        from his elaborate

                of smoke.

His head's on fire.

Like a paleolithic shaman
        working now in the realm of air, he

        folds his hands—

No more casting bones
        for the consulting seeker, this gesture

        seems to mean.
                Your business, his flaming head suggests,

                is with your thought-machine.

        How it churns and churns.

        Lord Should and Not-Enough,
                Mute the Gigantor, looming dumb

                with her stringy hair—

                Deadalive Mom-n-Dad (in the sarcophagi
                of parentheses

                you've placed them)—

He's a yogi, your man
        with a hat of smoke. Serene, chugging out streams

        of constructed air...

Mind's an accident
        of bio-wiring, is one line of thinking.

We're animals that shit out
        consciousness, is another.

The yogi says:
        you must understand yourself

        as projected vapor.
                Thus achieve your