Danaïd

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You were cruel to leave me alone,
With only my hands, and
Only my art.
In your absence I turned the chisel
Against my own longing,

My despair entered this stone,
And like nerve pulling at nerve
I retrieved your impossible, naked
Soul from its guts.

See how your shoulders arch here,
Where the light becomes sharp and unforgiving,
This is where I first cut my heart out
With your touch.

And here, where your hair plunges
Like a leviathan of caresses,
Down into the unhewn rock,
Here my belief in the separateness
Of our bodies finally fails.

I am curled into every curve,
And surge and retreat of your terrible absence.

When you return, you
Will discover I have gone quite mad.
Night after night in my atelier
I have disemboweled myself,
A dozen new figures to worship your savagery.

On Street Corners

Have you ever noticed how sometimes at night
the street slowly skulks home up the hill, alone and
head down, whistling to itself,
because the moon went its own way, three blocks back.
I look up, at the corner,
and the boys are passing by in their loud cars,
loud lives going to parties
where girls are probably waiting,
in T-shirts and jeans,
with music and shoes and dreams
made in sizes just for them,
waiting for the bottles of beer
the boys will bring,
offerings of love for their doomed youth.
There in a moment,
continents of lives whirring past my quiet eyes.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes in the night,
the trees shrug their shoulders on street corners,
and bury their chins in bushy collars,
and whistle alone,
because the moon and the world and the dogs
have already quit,
are not listening anymore,
have slipped off to other parties.

Love Poem

Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells.
It rises at street corners,
or in morning gardens hurt by the rising sun.
Sometimes on the breeze
I smell you before I arrive at your chipped red door,
scent of dinner for two, baked sweet potatoes,
scones with cream and jam,
the things you make from the songs you hum to yourself;
out of these your soul wafts
through this drunken garden to me.
The summer is in your dress as you turn in the window,
the sky is in your eyes,
sky overflowing with a bouquet of cranes,
of lotuses.
And your world is in your embrace as I cross the threshold,
as I press myself to your impermanence,
and it is lighter than any migration,
than any wing, or moth, or mantis.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells,
and I seek it out with kisses,
which I plant like little assassins on your agile neck.

Night Poem XXIV

Night of my harsh confessions,
you won’t let me turn away.
Tonight, regret is a new nerve,
and I probe the opening
where my years writhe exposed.

My failings dance before me.
I throw them wild flowers,
I throw them cabbages,
and they dance and sing and burn.

I failed to love anything
fierce enough to die, they sing.
I failed to be driven mad with longing
for a slice of this world.

Everything I touched,
I let drop from lukewarm hands,
my music, my literature,
my one aching adventure,
the girl who loved me with a dangerous sky.

They all got away,
and now another, bolder man
has the girl and the dream,
while I sit waiting for the night,

for the dawn, for the naked revelation.
I am the lion that never roared,
the bronco that never bucked,
the rolling stone that got stuck in the moss.

Night of my harsh confession,
I cannot turn away.
My regret is an old nerve,

and it tells me I will live out my life
in a parlor like a piece of furniture,
with my drunken relics,
my moth-eaten youth.

Can I salvage a brazen mouth,
a roar,
a life of pristine adversity,
a dangerous core?

Night Poem XXIII

Night of my ingrate tongue,
I want it all,
I want the sky to stop my lungs.

Do you remember how
I demanded everything impossible from you, night?
I sat upon your voluptuous cushions
like an indolent vizier.

I swallowed the whimpers of a thousand adulterers,
I demanded the towers of my oldest enemies,
and sent for the harpist, the lyre.
And before long I had sucked the marrow
from all the stars.

And you just looked at me, and grinned,
you, night of my ingrate tongue.
And instead of kingdoms, continents,
dawns, eternities,
I had discovered the loneliness that is love’s core.

Night Poem XXII

Night of my nameless grief,
I mourn the death of my child,
the girl who was never born.

She had long, devilish curls
and a song for every shadow.
Her piercing eyes
conquered my frayed and shaggy sorrows.

The child I loved was not her mother’s
was not my own.
She was never born.

She fled like all unspoken things
when I left and shacked up with
that bitch, solitude.

Night of my nameless child,
I mourn the death of my grief,
the one who was never here.

There is an infinite ache on my shoulders
where she sits,
hot hands clutching my ears.

Night Poem XII

I breathe this same night as you,
this night humid with eyes,
this night of crushed hearts.

Though continents separate us,
the way it enters first you,
now me,
it is like a tide turning,
bringing a salt of remembered song,
this same night.

What part of you do I receive?
Your fear of love,
your day broken by horizons,
your ecstasy for another’s waist?
I receive all of this,
and I too am broken by a jealous moon.

With a rag-eared note in a bottle,
I send my reply.
I am lonely, and my body wishes this
night we share were not so immense,
so burdened with impossibility.

But a vastness of black flowers
drowns my mouth.
This night we both breathe,
alone with an enormous love,
I cannot traverse this hemisphere of ruins.