expression is the thing with fur;
it’s the thing we keep warm until we shear it,
when, raw in the light, rolled into a ball,
shivering with a hairy eye on the door,
the mother-naked thing speaks,
but in the language of fish eggs, clay,
Silly Putty pass-the-time manipulations,
flow generators, mere distractions from
the piss and weave, whiff and leave, thing-in-itself
morning lines #101
the delicate, almost careful, flowers you picked for me are shutting down, giving way,
the so-soft eggplant petals drop, a shush at a time, in painterly scatters
we take out the trash, the dog dies, and the gray-ivory pebbles disappear,
one by one, from the path leading to the house
morning lines #100
I think a lot of the deep black diamond mind of forgetting,
seeing a sparkling arise as if “the gem sands” was a thing,
minute points of light near enough to touch with a fitful index finger,
if not grasp like a gasp, with a fist.
I yell into the dark as if someone will hear,
and sometimes they almost do,
sometimes a pinprick of star-shatter becomes a way to perceive,
if not remember,
a means of making all of this almost okay.
morning lines #99
The variegated moth won’t make it,
won’t be lifting off the floorboard runway,
won’t be striking the lamplight,
big eyes on closed wings,
looking back, not ahead,
antennae not sensing what’s coming,
only what’s been
morning lines #98
Caring for a slowly failing Gigi in 2017,
means paying penance for running a rat laboratory,
at the University of Maine in 1978,
the year of Body Snatchers.
Skinner guiding my hand,
I used those astonishingly white rodent bodies,
sweet dispositions turned to despair,
with not much on my mind but the next boyfriend,
and a degree in behavioral science.
morning Lines #32
I stood waiting for her to be loaded into the para-transit van,
the lift grinding, raising her up into the air, like one of the goats
or mules or sheep kept on her family farm in Neponset, Illinois.
She stared into the middle distance, a breeze tickling her ticklish
shale-gray hair, a Botticelli (or Rockwell?) waiting to be painted,
or so I was about to learn.
“She’s beautiful,” said a very tall/slender and handsome young
blue-black man watching us from under the awning of the building’s
side exit. He beamed, further commenting, in his slow, meditative way,
that Mary Ann and I must be related. I said no but we got that a lot.
He recently lost his grandmother. His cellphone came out. She was
a grand-looking African mother, indeed, her madly colorful prints
and headdress and his unflinching friendliness giving them away.
She died at 115, stopped walking at 112.
I got my own goat-lift while facing into the van, joking with Mark,
the driver, about the precious livestock he was hauling across town,
and feeling touched by the angel of immortality, as we pulled away
from the department of motor vehicles.
morning Lines #31
I read The Velveteen Rabbit for the first time.
And just afterward, Theo, asleep under the covers,
wriggles to the surface, nudges my hand away
from the keyboard, and demands my attention.
I ask out loud whether he dreamed of my tossing him
into a bag of scarlet fever–kissed toys and walking away forever.
I clasp him to my chest. It’s a maneuver he rarely suffers for
more than two seconds. This time, I gently hold him there,
his cheek on mine, my left nostril blowing, rearranging his whiskers.
He falls asleep in my arms for 20 minutes. I go to heaven and back.
morning Lines #30
Jack-Rabbit, Silver Service, Storm’s Coming, Steel Me, Hot Stone,
Alley Cat, Flannel Pajamas, Black Flame, Free Reign, Knight’s Armor,
Up in Smoke, and Downpour are the best PPG-brand paint colors
to describe the San Francisco Bay sky as I climb to Grizzly Peak
on an early-February Sunday.
morning Lines #29
“Pseudobulbar” was the term the nursing home doctor used.
I looked it up. “Emotional incontinence”:
a kind of involuntary outcry of laughter or upset
that expresses the opposite of what you feel.
MA yells for help. She is unhappy and anxious
and never laughs about it. She says she wants out.
She feels every pinch and gnarl of her miserable state.
And I’m helpless to help her.
evening lines, after Paterson
i come home to love you because you’re
all i have. but when i open the door,
you run outside like a beast from the depths,
wailing at the fence and garden stones.
you’re on the scent of a night animal.
you settle, piss, and come in the house.
you throw yourself on the sofa cushions
and wait to love me. because I’m all you have.
morning lines #1
good sleep opens the door,
to the green and bright,
where the heart settles,
the mind skips a beat