Whereas, Virginia, my encounter with the world
was like wearing a very white, expensive coat
or noticing suddenly one day that you are prettier
than you thought, I saw I risked losing it after all.
I grew concerned with how much of us takes place
indoors and what would become of me
without windows. The river was too unreal
so I started with a tree, lithe and showering petals
everywhere, it leaned like a certain object
of my affection, and I realized I didn’t know
what to do with it. I’m just a boy, Virginia,
with an armful of carnations (purple) and one
in my teeth for good measure, trying to sing
around the thistle in my throat, which, nota bene,
only you could have left there. I’m aching
in all this moonlight, shirt stuck with contrails
of sweat, and you are as cool as tile
and hard to adhere to. The paper claims
a flood tomorrow, but you don’t read the papers
anymore, now, do you. If you did, you’d worry
for the trees, and if the forest dizzied me
the way you do, perhaps at last I’d understand.
I never thought I’d be the battlestar
the wind-up watch your steel-plated
nightmare thundering clumsy down
the street rust on all my stress points
welded into what’s wrong for the job
but nigh unbreakable—just the cog-
and-wheel of me to push lumbering
and bulletproof unto the end. And if
there is an end (and there must be)
can it be soon? I am tired of waiting
whimpering as tornadoes canter blithe
across our old ancestral home sick
of sea-spray and helicopter blades
stirring up breath on my neck. Pull me
through this long stretch this touch
that is asymptotic almost but not.
Get out through the back and cover
your face like I told you. I will
tear this bare-handed down myself.
I would have had it otherwise, but in truth
it was not yet sunset and in the photographs
we are abominably backlit, murky
in dark hoods, arms stretched high
that we might be as long as our shadows
tumbling in the snow before us
the hiccup of our laughter like a recording.
The biggest blizzard our California eyes
had ever seen, we were waist-high in white
canyons on the way home, then red,
then violet as the day tired and curled up
taking us with it. We felt dangerous
like cowboys trying to swagger with legs
wrapped up in garbage bags and electrical tape
to keep out the ice-melt. The road
lay restless, endless, and under us.
My footprints wanted to quilt the snow beyond.
They took me from you like water.
Handsome as a Symptom
Most days, I would rather be
in your body than mine. I stumble.
I keep telling myself, Step on it
as to a driver in a hired car.
Hell is other people thinking
the singer sings for them alone
confident their face is the one
that takes on a strange and radiant
beauty in a stoplight’s amber glow
slowing even though theirs
is the time that’s running short.
Somewhere in me there is a sunroof
but I can’t keep trying to climb
out of it. I have to stay down here
and finish what I started.