MAKE BLUE MISTAKES. PRAY, LEAVE.

#B I. Cartography: Being honest with anyone but myself, I’ve never lived anywhere long enough to say, “I grew up here.” In some or another box after a recent move, there is list of all the places I’ve passed through, more than sixty in less than thirty years. And yet. I grew up in New York City;  the Bronx, City Island, Arthur Avenue, the Zoo. All tenements from the 70’s, all bodegas, all elevated highways. Parkways curving tightly against the East River. Bodies of water. Body of mine. My mother’s house and also my father’s house. Those apartments. Crossing the Bronx on the Cross-Bronx Expressway from one side of my childhood to the other.  

#B II. Government: Local heroes. Champions of running to catch a train. King and Queens ruling over late-night drives, $1 pizza slices, and crowded basement shows. The law of the land was Never Get Tired and never we did. Swallowing the sun nightly, we burned across boroughs, through Burroughs,  through Ginsberg, what thoughts we had those nights. All many-armed gods and goddesses of our own destruction, all deities and devils, all mouths taking in the blueness of our mistakes, desperately avoiding the days we fell like Rome. The city rebuilt every time the rainwater steamed off the asphalt. We were covered in the sweat of better men than ourselves, preaching into microphones from backlit stages, bodies blurring in the heat and the hurt.

#B III. Genesis: You don't yet have the language at the age of seven to know why you always look down the blouses of your teachers. I wrote in my margin, “she smells like honeysuckle.” Or what I imagined something described as taking in honey by the mouth ought to smell like. My father would feverishly change the channel on our TV if even the slightest of homosexuality came on screen. Before I knew why, I knew he was wrong. Fifteen years old and tucked into an alley behind the coffee-shop-as-second-home that fed me body and soul, not clumsily striking matches or raising bottles to lip but rather wrapping my best friend’s/girl friend’s body in the night to hide her from our fathers. When the last sentence he spoke to me at 25 was I'd been disappointing him my entire life, I didn't have to wonder why my degrees and my health weren't enough for him.

#B IV. Cardiology: I am going to climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfry of Bruges and I am going jump and I am going to keep my eyes open until I am going to crashing come to the ground I am going to swallow my tongue every time you enter a room And every time I think about you entering a room And every time I think about you And I am going to make you mouth words like ‘electricity” and “asystole” to learn the way your tongue pushes on your teeth And I am going to get two inches from your lips and make you mouth them again And I am going to dig my pointer and middle fingers into the space where my collarbones don’t meet to find a steadying pulse And I am going to think of every time I have done this before And I am going to think of every time I will do it again And I am going to fill a notebook each time And I am going to leave clawmarks And I am going to read the spaces between your planets And I am going to bruise And I am going to burn And I am going to spend each next year trying to understand what lesson in school I was too sick to attend that I am so Much and so Exhausting and so unable to Temper And I am going to be this way forever.

#B V Deficiency: We never have enough of what we need, or do we. The body lacks, though hard it tries. I believe in souls. I'm sorry if you don't. What I do for my soul is at the expense of my body. What I do for my body should be more correlated to what my body does for me but it never seems to be able to do more than contain my blood. Or maybe that's all it's for. Every time I visit a doctor they tell me a new piece that I am missing. Enzyme. Lipid. Enamel. Vitamin. Molecule. They tell me where to find it. How to bring it to my body. My body always wants more and my soul wants to leave. To be sea mist. To be pine smoke. To be away from the blood and the sinew and the lacking. I take in coffee and lentil and sugar by the mouth finding a way to nourish all of me. I need more sun inside my skin. I need more water to submerge myself in. I need more nights spent couch sat pulling stories from the air between us. But while the soul expands the body loses mass and my mind is caught unable to feed the air to my mouth fast enough, “don't go.”

#B VI. Collapse: Baroreceptors are sensory neurons that are excited by the stretch of a blood vessel. In their excitement, they sense blood pressure and relay the information to the brain, so that proper pressure can be maintained. Increases in the pressure of a blood vessel triggers increased action potential generation rates and provides information to the central nervous system. Autonomic reflexes ought to work left to their own doing, a bodily process separate from pathos. And yet. The betrayal by physiology after an undoing conversation, something left unsaid, a silence, a look, a loss, leaves the body to fend for itself, leaves action potential generation behind. I cave as bridge, as building, as roof; in on myself and all at once. My central nervous system fails to communicate to my brain and my heart that we indeed must carry on. So, I falter. I apart. I lose conscious- and unconsciousness and my blood settles, and once again I am skin being held up by bathroom tile as the quiet rolls in.

#B VII. Catharsis: There are evenings I find myself writing out the words to “Billion Bees” in the margins of books I’ve read before. I move the bookshelves around the apartment until, from my side of the couch, I can see them all. What’s most important is that the window be open just enough the sun smell of the gingko leaves keeps my company, and the rising early evening Moon casts their shadow over my shoulder. There are evenings I take off the day layer by layer, a trail on the floor from door to bed, arms and legs akimbo into inches of feather and cloth. The ocean sounds of deep inhaling, a meditation on sea mist, salt rock, and pine. There are evenings I slice garlic cloves and melt them in olive oil, cutting board to pan, wooden spoon to rest, fingertip to mouth. Cracked spine of basil leaf, cracked window revealing fifth floor ledge. There are evenings my head floats heavy with smoke and I have been told it is an experience to watch the way I eat a piece of fruit. There are some evenings I spend slunk-shoulders in a bath releasing the the effects of tragedy on the mind. There are some evenings I choose not to exist at all.

#B VIII. Elation:

#B IX. Outcrop: I want to return your book.

#B X. Balance: I often say, “this needs lavendar.”

O POLLEN OF THE BEES

The wind is long and the tongue is wet. Once they get past the point where they might hate you, they love you ardently. Of course I burn my bridges, I have a boat. And after seven nights at sea I forget I am not a boat myself. From over the side I grasp for a topside turvy child that is actually only tepid water shadowing itself. Thus marks the epoch of love in dribs and drabs. It was always my practice -- if one must always be the original doer of his actions -- to be the original teller, as well. The unscathed will always have a harder time proving their genuineness to me. For every hull-moment I was dark, I chose to be so. For every eve my sails were wet with under water, I did not dare right them. And from every grocery store in California, I have such thoughts of you. Tonight. What am I to do when nothing can be made to be broad without succumbing to the axe of nitpicking? O weeping breaks the inoperable grip of the commonplace and, for that, is so sincerely entrepreneurial. I have always been reluctant to suppress my identity, by declaring it. Identity, at it again. Ask me my age and I will wet-tongue swallow a belch, to explain age as a location, I answer, “in the arms of the far Milky Way!” Milky, I make my way to the latin phrases of a wooded floor, bee pollen to chew in hand, remembering years as a vessel.

No lie of mine has ever bothered me; all of them were so lovely. I have been a giant in tragedy; its aftermath has dwindled me. Like when a deep brown strand of her hair stays between your thighs nights later. If god supplies anything in this life, above all, it is mood. And if like the Bible insists, god made himself man to know the dirty bottoms of feet, he surely walked the long hallway to her bed with his own throat in hand to offer. The aftermath of dwelling, he leaves his unspeaking name as bruises and exits to exist as deity once more. In my brute life, my own too early doom has always come so dramatically right before the angel. And if goodness be so glorified as to make evil an abstraction, then I must come in contact with it. Ma, will I ever know a feeling (out to roost) from a feeling I persuaded myself to feel? But what could a feeling be but felt? Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem. O the day as a boy I looked behind the mirror and double took. Because the truly loyal keep up their grudges, on either side, even in their dreams. Leaving them and me foolhardy, me and them chums, you and I blueberries, and I flogging with fictional stress and frictional redress your beautiful unheralded bum. How imperious that anyone should be in love with you.

You and I blueberries. You and I nectarines. You and I canteloping. Polygamous fruit. A diamond and a rind on every finger. Whither these fragrances come from, we know not; but secrets, my dandelions, secrets are inescapably man-made. Synonymous with discontent and anonymously passing notes around the kitchen cabinets. I, as I ever could be, telling you in the steam on the bathroom mirror, in the royal jelly on my toast, in the white crown molding bemoaning us. And if we subsist, drear, crumpling, into the cigarette-manic fools we used to be and call sanctuary bathroom with one mouth, then midday drinking again it is beautifully in awful spunk that without my sleep, there is not a thing that passes my notice without a touch of sadness that I am both glad for and cannot share with anyone, we’re so indian-style, cute as misaccomplishment. Scathed and scathing, bathing in the audible light of dawn, as Jupiter takes their place 778 million km outside this window, 45° from the moment where this window pane frames you handling me. “I would to be sure. But any man with the cursed ability to understand the opposition of his instincts longs endlessly for the bondage of destiny.”

When it comes to criminality, for me, the fear of incarceration and its stain does not outweigh the sexual pull of getting away with it and our abandonment. Why is the past a rose, the present a clod, and the future a sneeze? Let me steal for you a ship. Let me teach the wind how to shake a tree in your direction. Be wildly abandoned with me. Be a salt-crusted knee on the deck of my thigh, praying a rosary for the child you will neglect in my honor. The voice behind the porthole, of a swan woman, to take even the simplest of mysteries. I looked at her like I’d look upon a peacock’s feather, crooning, “I do not want to fill an emptiness in your heart. I want to see if in your full, blithe heart there is any room left for me.”

Milky, I make my way. O from the wall I hold up with my spine, I let you feed me from your empty cabinet. Because the success of our most promising liars depends essentially on that most crucial of lies, that of feigning an inability to lie altogether. Lie down. You bring out in people as much as there is in you. Of course I burn my boats. I do not stand by me. I am a wax candle near enough to treatise to hoax.

I often think, “Shouldn’t more be happening?” in some small, barely lit, and late conversation; and then I think, “But how close we are!” and I’m as warm as I am whet. You know, in the first part of my life, my enthusiasm was rife with mania. And now that I have combatted the mania with my sure, complicit body, I have only my enthusiasm, the angel of youth. I just thought I’d say. And yet. Insofar as my legs reach beyond my ankles, let my feet run --padfoot-- the length and breadth of your sternum from chin to airplane take off. I am still running. The metaphor of our transportations will build a home for us made entirely of literal light and literal dark. Of what use is my being without place? And of what use is this place without my being? And of what being will bare my dirty feet. Rain is reminiscence. That’s all you gotta say. Be with me a reticence, o you cat-tongued man of wet clothes and stories.

You’ll see, if the details of circumstance, above the starkness of event, have always been importunate, to the point of entangling the survival found in pressing-on, with the nagging automation and indelibility of the senses’ watchman; if her enigmatic hoarse dolor is lost on your somehow biologically collecting the fact of the moon and the vital shadow strewn on her cheek at the time, or on your narrating residually the way thought was at once a slug and a rabbit to and fro throughout the personal crisis; if the cinema of these concurring trifles is helplessly inescapable; if it is as effortless as it is despised, then, with inoffensive pity, I look on you, brother of the bloodless daydream, for you’ll already know, still yet fraught with amazement; if she as a woman was surpassed, even once, by alas just the notion of her scent or of her step, you’ll see, without trying, that when the argument is exhausted, and the raw fissures of conjoining madness clear, with suction, for the quiet run-out-of fog, which is also a clearing, but achieved in a spray; you’ll see, because you cannot but see, stricken, that despite argument’s cataclysm, the intestines do go on to bicker, like frogs, even if you two are sentenced by a living room of your fears, your brutal uncaressing fears, to ten barrenful minutes of hard labor, known as silence, as culpability in wait, as inexpressible collapse, and as abandon; you’ll see, bodily, constantly, strictly, that the act of love is forever beautifully ambushed by details, but that love itself is either tortured by them or evaded for them; and if you do not see, you will only have to listen, for it is audible and continuous.

Repeat after me: “O sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams.” For when the orb of our unending days rests it head for finale on our charred waters, the last vestiges of the silver battles I won will be the false-endlessness of stars over you, countable in it’s abundance but unimaginable in it’s universal platitudes. As the paths of Eden are no longer walkable and the fertile gates lay begotten, repeat after me: “O sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams.” As we furlong unabashedly into the new nightime of our delirium, we shed the ribbons of Paradise from our wrists and cut from our tongues the screams of a past forgotten; we dislocate ourselves from the joints of eons laid bare by the passage of a vessel not too small that the gods themselves do not pay a fare; we break the steadfast bodies of a land created in a room and thrown away past this milky home for us to escape the light that for so long has demanded it be mastered. Repeat after me: “O sun, I hate thee in a way that thy beams will burn the eyes from my pocked face but where I go, I need not eyes and I need not you.” Yours and mine bodies will bear witness to the bang-drum of the birth of a time. Bear witness to this body as it redresses in a lightless epoch, count on the old gods to forget us.

The mark of the truth is a willingness to admit that the story is out of order. Pretending to make up that you made something up, remarkably close to the truth. So that every joy has its snare, we live in a world without meaning and without meaninglessness. How many books have come from just five minutes with her and her loveliness? She was elegant, elusive, and wronged. Shit. Real tragedies never have any entertainment value. Hey downcast one, the trivial is only the significant with a blindfold. And you will never not be yourself looking at yourself. So if underneath the shyness is the act of shyness, it is most inherently selfishness. I loved myself, I thought, as the self is a medium. But that wasn’t love; fascination, tinkering maybe. But not love. Old enough to do so, finally, as a person, I am still waiting madly to love myself

MY SPINE

My spine, rib cage, and pelvis all
have to be from different bodies.
My femurs are definitely my own, 
as well as my knees. But not my
shoulders.

My hands are my mothers, 
but my jawline is mine. 
I don't know about my wrists.

The aching inside of each of my hips, 
I have to own that one. I don't own
the back of my neck or my ankles.
I've been trying to decide about
my calves, some days the answer
is yes, others no.

If I could see inside of my ears, 
I might like them more. But for now, 
I focus on my lower back; 
the muscles mine, the bones a stranger.

The hollow under my ribs is recent
so it certainly is from else where
but it seems to be at home.
The extra length of tail bone
I've always suspected, alien. 
The creases on my stomach, mine.

Breasts, from the past. Armpits, 
reclaimed. Bottoms of my feet, 
I'll claim those, but not the tops.

The low-hum of the curve from
hip to ass, I'm sure only I can hear. 
And the crack of the sternum, too.

This skin, all of this skin, all of this
skin everywhere, foreign. There's
too much, it can't all be mine. 
Have I been stealing skin?
What do they say about seven
pounds of flesh.

The awareness of the body
is all my own while the body
itself was cobbled together.
The sounds the body makes
are from other planets, the
silence from the center of the earth.

The pain of having a body, 
the pain that lives in the body, 
the diagnosis of pain as chronic, 
a transfer.

At the middle of the night, 
the body feels grief, and tries
to grieve. The weight of the grief
belongs to the parts of the body, 
but the source is untranslatable.
The body as the force of imploding, 
but the parts of the body as spared.

The hollows above my collar bones
have always belonged to no one
else but me, but the hollows around
my hips belong to grief.

My mother made this body
from scratch, I tell myself; 
I tell myself she had help from no one.
And yet. I find the father in the
weakness of my knees, years praying. 
I find the father in the sinew.

But myself, in the strength of
my thighs, the letter writing fingers, 
the sharpness of nails.
There is a place between my
shoulder blade and spine that
belongs to ecstasy.

I don't recognize this body.

YOU ONCE SAID

You once said to me, that I'm the kind of person
who sticks around in someone's throat. I thought
you meant like how you can still taste coffee
hours after you drink it or how it feels watching
a new horse stand for the first time. 

I wanted to know why you always swallowed
before looking me in the eye. There's a type of
deep breath a person takes before they are
able to stare at the ocean, and I can feel your
chest swell on the nights you come over from
the beach and I find sand for days. 

You meant like in the way the sun, heavy weight, 
is an undoing burn. I get stuck in your throat and
you drink sea water looking for the moan I make
when you come up behind me in the kitchen as
I roll out dough for pastelitos and your mouth
finds my neck. 

I ASK YOU

I ask you where you are when
you are Home & how your arms
take shape around your own body,
how you learned to build it. 
I ask you how long it took 

to get your muscles on your side, 
strong enough to carry the weight
of all the space you made while
trying to find your way back. 
You show me all the places where it

hurt to become, opening a window in
the house you grew into. I ask you
how often you move the hurt around,
a mirror in an otherwise empty room, 
always catching the light.

You tell me that lifting yourself off
the floor is how you built your strength.
That coming home means putting
your arms down at your side. 
Your slightest pause means, 

"I'm sorry, I am tired all the time,
I have a rock and a hill and another
day of moving the weight." You say,
"You can stay as long as you want. 
But stay longer next time."

THE MORNING AFTER

The morning after the pine trees
froze still, we woke up honey
tongued and arms wrapped smoldering,

pulling close cinders, four lung
ice ponds too thin in the middle, 
and the sound of a body going in.

The morning after you fell ice
pond through I stood chest
expanding outwards towards the 

mountain morning fog I didn't
understand but wanted to become.
Your fence post legs, my “maybe 

I should go” shoulders, all of it
laced boots, all of it the back door,
all of it slow motion ice water

limbs. No fire to bring blood back,
no warm coffee mouth, only
more pine trees froze still. 

I AM TAKING

I am taking my sixteen year old self
as my date to our ten-year high school reunion.
I am on my way to pick her up.
She didn't recognize me
when I asked her out. 

I wanted to tell her
that she needed to stop agreeing to go out
with people so much older than her.
I wanted to tell her to make friends her own age.
Instead, I told her I'd pick her up at 7:00 pm. 
I'm having a bad influence on myself,
but I need her to hear me.

I brought her a copy of Tom Robbin's
Still Life with Woodpecker, 
because she shouldn't have to wait
five more years to learn about
blood and the moon. 
I need her to know about 2011.
I need her to hear about our mother.

The reunion is in the same ballroom
where our prom was, balanced on the edge
of the sea. Ten years ago, I wrote a spell
on a napkin for a tidal wave, an act of
god, or something to come up from
the depths of the ocean to kill us all. 

Instead, my date danced with everyone
but me and here I am now
with myself, introducing her to
people who dont rememebr
either of us. 

"What shall we do, all of us?  Us
passionate girls who fear
crushing the boys we love
with our mouths like caverns
of teeth, our mushrooming brains, 
our watermelon hearts?"

She passed me a napkin
with a spell to turn us into
glitter and blow us out the window.
We both thought it would work.
We took each other out the back door.

She ran into the ocean
arms out like the Virgin Mary
of Reckless Abandon. 

THE FIRST TIME

I. 

The first time I dreamt about you,
we were in a crumbling Japan
outrunning an earth quake
& I was afraid at you, 
mad for you, when
you couldn't keep up. 

II. 

The second time I dreamt about you,
our bus had no driver. 
I knew I loved everyone
within arms reach, and
I opened every window
to let in the light. 

III. 

The third time I dreamt about you, 
it was January. You were in
my bed, and we were
naked. I was a slow-blowing
Winter wind and snow came
all over the quilt. 

IV. 

The first time you woke up
and I was near your bed, 
the moon kept me up
with her long fingers. 
You left before breakfast. 

V. 

The second time you woke up, 
I fell to the floor after
Good Morning. You took me
to bed and I spilled fever
all over your pillows. 
You cleaned it up when
you thought I wasn't awake. 

VI. 

The third time, you woke up
with me. Goat-horns and
knotted hair tangled with
my nearest body, pulling
pine needles from your
teeth, you could only see
me in motion. 

VII. 

Every time, I am a devastated
valley, calmest at dawn and
swearing I won't sleep again. 
The distance between dreams
measuring light-years of
Let Me Tell You What You Mean
To Me. 

VIII. 

Every time, you pull the Present
bare fisted, from the bottom
of the ocean, star-eyed and
ready to swallow. Eating your
Yesterdays hand over
heart. Trying to find where
they hid Tomorrow and you.