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tearing the rag off the bush again
Four Poems PDF E-mail


I went to where a house was and found the body. I was the finder of the body that was among what was once a house and is now empty window sills and broken wood. I was the finder of what are now bones and pieces of hair clinging to the bone and more that cannot be told. I found what was part body and part bones in the dry heat of nearly one year past the flooding that took what was once a house, and I witnessed the body unfound. And here the word found does not imply lost but found as in the loss of something, that which there is still no accurate name for; as in the loss of the house which was found first by the eyes and then later the loss of the breath that the room held where the body was sealed. That was the removal of the door letting out a sigh, and there I uncovered it and gave it a name. I named it the body and then noting that it was not all body then said and bones and said in this house but then realized that implies home and so turned towards another word. The word that is left after the walls come down, this world of intangibles that fills the front room piled high against the door of the bedroom unopened and behind which lay the body. So, the body too having once been a word more specific and maybe even one that encompassed movement and scent, a word that held memories and once caressed the softest parts of another’s flesh. This was the word I did not know and so not knowing said body and noting the inaccuracy tried to avoid looking at the body. It is useless to imagine the word that the body possessed to another who loved it and how those hands which are not hands were ever held. It is impossible to imagine now how the house was once whole and how once that body did dance beneath the front room fan that now lies crumpled on the floor. That the body had legs is indisputable and so the dance can be imagined, but the precise nature of the legs, how they folded and what sweat crept behind the backs of the knees shall never be revealed. This is the legacy one earns as the keeper of telling a story of this discovery, as if “a-ha” could ever be applied to what is uncovered here in this city.

And One Down

impossible chasm uncrossed
grief loosened in its able form
arms and legs akimbo, then disassembled
in this portrait she’s the Holy Mother
in this one a corpse sung to behind stilled lids
a woman the city took like a sacrifice
not turned into a stag at the apex of the crisis
gunned down in the front room of a rented house
where you died

I was born Helen
of grief
I did not know
Helen and her city in the dream of what might
what nightmare
what we rend, those long sleeves and close eyes against
that the city is lost
that Helen is lost

Helen on the ramparts looking down on a valley of dead
death for desire for blood for disgrace for beauty for bargaining for arms and legs of men discarded for the terror that weaves all times to one
each in our silent cave with tongue tied down
this myth stretches its legs bearing

Helen Helena Helen
city melted into the pages of a book

streets of those left behind winding to the reeds
taken by siege in a battle of no boundaries
what has been put down comes forward and presses between

Helen laughing in a snapshot
shot that is heard and frozen
there was no Helen
there was no New Orleans

after the war, nothing survived


Walking Song

here is the tale
I would take from you
for bargaining
what you would ask
to stay away from dangerous waters
half in love with death
we are and I am
three times round—you think there
is such a thing as survival
where whispered countings keep
our step, each word is a secret
in a world where it can’t be kept
maybe it takes two kinds of animals
to come to a truce
part lie and part unsaid
if only every morning in New Orleans
was the coyote’s forgetful dream
to desire anew what we never knew we had
an ache erased
how cunning we are anyway
fooling ourselves
that we have got away from disaster
here we let the dead stay dead
don’t bring me back
don’t even jump once

from the eagle’s eye view always
it’s a city about to go under
what happens to a story that can never
be repeated, when language cannot be pulled
out to perform, it calls for more than
the act of recitation, the art of swallowing
whole the heart of another
here is a tale without the telling
all my stories end in water
I would give to you
for bargaining

“all answers are answers to all questions”

J. Cage

What is the pitch of the phenomena?

One dreams about a room and in its familiarity believes to have awoken. Then on waking is anything lost in the actions of the dreaming, to rise again is necessary. All actions from the minutest detail begin to unravel and rethread into the morning of this afternoon. Whether you dream you are awakened or awakened by the dream, both transitions require the aptitude to transgress the unexpected towards what we know holds meaning. This is the sound of one arm waking.

Does you mean the undercurrent of all “you”s?

Ask yourself what you mean by questioning at all. And then what is the purpose of the question mark stopped from below by a period but hovering above as some sort of incubus of symbolism. Think on the lilt in the spoken word: that which one intends to mark as the question, the point in visible language pouring from one’s mouth where the speaker stops and says here is the emphasis for which I desire your answer. The heat of any inflection is desire for the continuance of its own self.

What holds the dirt in a city of water?

You develop such a thorough relationship with the teachings that they become a part of you. Words delivered in a charismatic voice or if the brain is the better part of valor, words delivered in a timorous, halting lisp, so that each syllable is capable of being sliced out of the moment to moment thread. It’s a long way down.

What is active storytelling versus digression?

The solitary individual remains naïve and unable to counsel others. There is a story about a man reading a book and the book is about the man reading the book and still to complicate matters, there is the tension of each impending death that we wake and walk around with as a matter of this living. Wonder is the grace in the reality of things. This unblown earth in its eventual wrapped cage. Regard this lecture as a measure of the pulse. No mute tribe has ever been discovered.


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