Do I Doubt The What That I Am?

Do I doubt the what that I am?
I, a strange seam in the secret streets.
I who barely am.

But feel how the night
wants me to be a thing,
how it brushes past me,
a cape of quickening ache,

silent, possessed with infinite touch,
that rouses me to seeing,
how it distinguishes me
from the tree and the fish.

It peels me from myself,
leaf by aching leaf,
scatters my pages
to the lost hours of the wind.

But I am, I am
dying, burning, being.
Night wants me to be a thing,
surrounded by the scent

the others secrete.
Their sexual sadness,
their lamented joy,

and the first and last breath and dream,
endlessly lost
and then found again,
like a discovered moon.
Do I doubt the what that I am?

Solitary Sun

I’m not against my being alone.
I find quite enough company
in the strange hours of the self.

The sea fills me,
the dark trees fill me,
the lamp light on the street’s cape
fills me,
the mad, joyous cries
of a city that doesn’t know me
fill me.

And a Spanish guitar can be enough,
and the painful beauty of
unreachable girls,
in a corner of me
is an appeased dusk,
unaccompanied, satisfied.

Alone the silence is an aroma
like exotic tea,
and I feel myself porous,
drifting out to meet it.

But it’s when I have to walk
from my used up day
into the empty night
that my soul breaks into
chunks of unbearable heavy bone.

The infinite sorrow of unshared fruit.
Where is the one who will receive
the gathered sparks
of my solitary sun?

Charles and Jeanne

Molten of your loins,
your half-caste Venus of a thousand poems
on a delicate cushion,
rubbed with wine, her old perfume.
They said you loved her most,
mistress of mistresses.

She’s not much to a modern eye,
face of pock-marked eyelids,
cleft lip, spine ravaged by
undiscovered disease,
and scars that trace
the progress of her soul into hell.

She’s doomed,
but you’re doomed too,
twenty seven would be a good age to die
to syphilis, or opiates, or poetry,
lives burning from the rafters
of a choleric slum.

Waifs of life, extinguishing yourselves
in fast and terrible Parisian quarters,
in the doorways, in the dram shops,
under the lamps burning whale fat,

dripping with the lyricism
of the copulating masses,
you could admire, you could despise.

You embraced your exterminating century,
the brief lungs,
you burned for her broken body,
utterly entombed in her
infinite malaise.

Young Animals II

You tell yourself you won’t give up.
Burdened with a lust and a fear
and the entirety of this moment.
Has it come too soon?

Why is it now
that a weight like a lead eye
descends into your stomach’s depths?

And you must become
her thousand scented fires,
you must pilot both these loaded souls
to the shrouded tower.

Ill-starred, you’ve set out
with things you don’t need,
reasons, images, language,

plummeting sadness invades,
and you tighten the reigns
of your equine body.
But you are not yet animal
to her responding roar.

You plunge your paths into her,
straight and familiar,
crippled effort.
See how suddenly the undulating pain,

the breaking joy unravels them,
beneath a billowing undergrowth.
See the strange cats that
weave in and out of realization,
that come devouring children.

How at last you have
journeyed into no territory,
and are no conqueror.

Young Animals I

Holding you,
trembling, the hurt
song in you.
Why has it wavered

in the infinite openings
of these sheets,
in this new wakefulness,
alert to the silent thrust
of his stone?

Did you know it would be this way?
This strange solitude
you share
threatens to become you.

And what you give
over, in the tearful exchange,
where will he take it,
in the fretful journeys of his sleep,

how will it become him?
Courage fails through crimson sighs.
But have you ever been this unguarded,
this immense, without towers?

See how the young animals flow
so freely from you now,
through the undulating pain,
through the breaking joy.

Lorca/ Neruda

I read both your books
until all I saw was a thin sky,
a cold blue voice against my closed eyelids.
Your words I huddled over
as if over all my dead lovers,
and held a torch to their precious faces,
reading, weeping. I was happy.
I took your songs
and kept them in my ear’s hold for days,
until they were wax
and something I could fashion
into winds, centuries,
poorly mended hearts.
I read both your books
and turned them into a thin sky.
When I walked in the cusp of my solitude,
there where I gazed, your
translucent sorrows,
wounded clouds, something to learn from.
And when it rained,
all I could hear was poetry.

My Thirty Hearts

Thirty years old,
I speak to my thirty hearts
that I’ve scattered like confetti afternoons
to the corpulent sky.

Some are snagged in sharp clouds,
some free, floating past
the loosening trees,
some return like balloons,
but I speak to them all.

My five year old heart,
Stub-toed,
Stumbling into rainy days,
receiving them like a leaf,

soggy cats rubbing his swift shins,
and the world bent down on knees
offering immensities
to tiny hands,

fragile hands, like a leaf,
yet brutal as the dawn.

My twelve year old heart,
eyes and tongues and ears
consuming youth,
as wicks consume the air,

wide oceans like
blue fry pans sparking,
and trees slung with tire swings

and little golden girls
budding in his mind,
warm lips, hearts of ochre,
pencil cases filled with scented rubbers,
and voyages down unreal Niles.

My seventeen year old heart,
wants roaring Beethovens,
eyes that sing,
mornings burdened with music,

the tall arms of schoolgirls
he could have touched,
their glistening ears dripping song,
song everywhere,

and the aroma of summer,
sweat, unbathed time,
he’s smattering his inward stars
across the beaming curb,

and the mad strides of youth
already almost at the school gate.

My twenty one year old heart,
cuts the stems one by one,
the sad stamens of home,
the tender, raw fingers of mothers
doing heartache for the first time.

The boy tethered to his one selfish beam,
learning what the men will teach
for a price,
he learns love instead,

opened on the shingles of taste,
the bed he’s made for her to unmake,
life described by revolving sheets,
and night’s lips,
and the broken tongues,

and the things she gives,
growing from the wounds she keeps,
and the forgotten school,
and the discovered sky.

My thirty year old heart,
given away in a reckless bedroom,
leaves only a note with a smudged address.
Tacked to streets,
I go hunting after lost time
not yet past me.

And my heart somewhere, kept by another,
wrapped in a faded golden paper,
stuffed away in a weeping drawer,
with scissors, fingernails, pencil shavings,
a taxidermist’s stuffed child.

And maybe sometimes taken out,
cupped in tears,
walked in lonely gardens of memory
with an old love,
then put away in rainy cupboards.