It isn’t when, where or why, but how I kill you.
Slingshot. Capgun. Reuger. Venom. Pow. I kill you.
Bible? Quran? Talmud? Book of Hours? Book of Days?
In my black robe, holier-than-thou, I kill you.
Such a lovely veil: Obey, Honor and Love.
With this unbroken vow I kill you.
Eat, eat. Flesh for the table flensed from the bone.
Fog within the abattoir thickens. Like a sow I kill you.
Don’t worry. Your death is merely play. It’s all stage
blood and applause. With a bow I kill you.
Seriously, my heart has never known this depth of joy, of
belonging, of self. Love, love, my love: now I kill you.
“After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, . . .”
As if wracked by a great quake
(I am a china doll), the shifting
of tectonic plates (I fall, I fall)
the city rang like a bell.
Organ pipes and chandeliers of glass
cracked. A page tore, spilling out
the soft vowels of the buildings,
its ices and pomades,
its lithe green cats.
I’ve never learned to lion,
never been maned. (They mate for life.)
You struck my face, killing
all the cloudy little doves.
The fritterers, the flouncies
died inside. I remain
a coward inside my growl.
When you clenched your fist.
When the walls frowned.
When the cobalt candlestick
fell from its shelf.
When the door jamb rattled at the slam.
When my skull thrummed.
When the marrow shifted.
When the cobalt candlestick
rolled across the floor.
When you hissed and spit.
This is it.
When I sat with my hands, with my face.
Come to me wizard of loveliness,
come, witch of refusal,
with your faerie wing,
your harp that sings,
your black nails and
pails of black water.
I am your dousable flame,
your night-mist rake.
I am the listlessness
conjured by your very breath.
Dangle my strings.
Dance in your fine shoes,
your fine, heirloom shoes.
Tease the reeling moon and toss away
the brook’s moonlit cackle.
Her wounds are not our wounds.
Gnarled knuckle of the apple’s root
has popped even this brick up.
I stumble. Do you remember, once
upon another time, downtown, outside
a jazz bar: there were so many roads
heading off in every direction on the spin
of a compass—who could choose?
Roads that ended in carnivals, in lands where men
had two heads and women spoke
in tongues of fire. You chose gold
and we ran through fields of corn—
all the cornrow teeth chattering and chuckling.
We were sick with the joy of it,
gasping the laughter of our thick air. No one told us
no one in Oz is mortal.
In a land of emerald and adamant
the dark resilience
of a rubber gasket
is precious indeed.
Meteors, I believe, have done similar damage
to the moon. My feet
scrape through the shards of these streets.
(They cut him into tiny pieces
and threw him in the well.
But each piece remained alive.
He’s there still.)
Every door is hinged.
Every pot has bubbled over.
Every child has stopped crying.
And crows and crows are everywhere.
And what they’re enjoying is viscous and red.
And what they’re saying is: Yes,
this is our hour.
I am a coward.
Wind over the roofs, over the fields
weed-wild. All the lollipops dissolved in rain.
A stink of molasses blows through.
The roadsign said Somewhere or
Elsewhere or Stay here and I thanked him,
by southwest, I think. Pumpkins
ripen in the window boxes,
tightening their vines.
Every house is painted blue.
The road has ended at this.
I have only these brown shoes.
Home was never a gray farmhouse,
a pig sty full of pig shit,
a horse’s piss, a prig of a woman
on a bicycle killing my dog.
Home was a human puzzle. Four arms
entwined, a whirlwind
lifting a feather bed, a naked
waltz across the floorboards, fireplace
mad with colored paper and lighter fluid.
Home was where the hearth was,
where the heart—
where the hear—
the he—home was
Here . . .
We have spilled our share of wine and wax,
plundered the rainbow’s cache of gold.
I have only these two worn shoes,
the stub-end of a broomstick.