Owning My Naked Lens

I dreamed the piston of a left hook fist,
tilted the blinds of my under-cover lids
long enough to watch my lead knuckle

contact the spreading dark spider of my
eyeglasses, which yo-yoed down to the
stoic plane of the floor and popped off an

arm at the seam of a previously glob-glued
elbow joint; I’d rather sigh than attempt
a repair, because it’s just another red ink

entry onto the pages of my life’s ledger,
and it could be far worse, because at least
now I have to squint hard to focus the loss.

won’t buy dye

must be hybrid alfalfa seeds
settling on my scalp, germinating
silk sprouts between my hairs—
I’m still too world-new to start
spinning gray, but I’ve been told

that grandpa W. went full silver in
the meat of his twenties, shortly
after he returned home from the
jumbo years-long island conflict,
where riflemen flopped from

atoll to atoll, like a protracted
game of hop-along-the-lily-pads
all the way to Nippon proper;
and during the time he was
away, he caved a young man’s

skull like a soft coconut fruit with
his gun butt as an humanitarian
act, much like the way the old Greeks
sometimes handled their incurably
wounded—except the Greeks would

punch a spike into the rear dimple
of your thought box as you lay
prone and leaking out from an
irreparable puncture, or steep you
a mug of hemlock tea that could

cause a man to nod down deepest;
I can’t claim a cause so traumatic
for my own decline, but grandpa
W. owned a downy head like fresh-
ginned field cotton until the time he

ceased to be, which I guess means
I probably won’t shed and turn
into a spit-shined melon, because
I’ve also been told that he and I share
some of the same facial structure.

better part of town

manicured planks of clean lawn—
tree trunks from ceramic molds;

women breeze in white muslin,
browsing in the knickknack shops.

red bricks are zigzag-fitted
like ranks of decorative teeth.

three brands of waxed sedans are
parked in equal shades of neuter.

caramel skins, sweat-painted,
slip like shuffling face cards

into kitchens through steel
kick-plated side entrances.

bars with antiseptic feng shui
serve sarcastic liquor drinks.

the parched laughter of politics
unravels the threads of my gut.

Pocked Lawn

I buried a cinder block in the earth using
a half-size spade—one with a handhold
on the end for limited digging—in front of
the back screen door, so the flat of its length-
wise side was flush with where the flip-flop

soles of shoes and the pad-soft arches of feet
step from the house and into nature. A black
scraggle-dog had been creating holes for fun,
and I dropped the brick in to compensate the
void left by the rake of small, ubiquitous paws.

Otherwise, a guest (or I) could take a hard tumble,
spraining an ankle or scraping a tender palm by
believing the yawning space was full. I employ
a similar technique to offset emotional hollows—
no one should have to fall over and bruise a heart.

allergy information

sometimes the weave
of the air filter doesn’t
pull out all the pollen
and fiber chunks before
expelling its conditioned
wind into the room,
which might cause some
to sneeze due to allergy,
and a few might sniffle
on phrases and diction,
too, because they weren’t
properly pasteurized, so
I really ought to pull and
soap the filter, then beat
the room clean with
a colorful oriental fan
to dry the ink a little.

neighborhood

overcoated power poles
bowing line to line—
bleak pinewood urbs
peripheral the avenue
that was dirt before
it matured to pave

                  big metal clanks
                  from the road-end
                  metal workshop that
                  makes metal things
                  with cloud booms like
                  titanic tuning forks

foot-stare walkers
deep in the drug—
a squirrel thunder-
claps the gray
transformer cylinder—
hours without lights

Never Learned to Go

The pieces clicked when you
         let them drop, about three inches up—
                  each a tiny saucer of blunt,
         polished stone fashioned round
                  in binary black and white.

         I was sure that I told you,
                  confessed my pure ignorance of
                           the game, which is likely why
                  your eagerness to challenge me
                           flamed like a hydrogen belch.

This was a lot of years ago,
         but I slid the pebbles a little
                  way across the grid, laid out
         over the plain, sharp square board
                  made of clear-varnished hardwood.

         I didn’t take you seriously,
                  because your tee shirt was printed
                           with a muscly, sword-hefting
                  barbarian, naked but for a loin cloth—a
                           big-tit amazon glued to his thick thigh.

It might have been better if I’d
         focused more, because I did lose
                  in pretty short order, after a few times
         you’d asked me if I was absolutely
                  sure I wanted to make that move.

         Memories are elusive and mutable—
                  I can see your pink nails with
                           their white half-circles contrasting
                  the slight olive cast of your hands,
                           but our small-talk words have vaporized.

I can also remember thinking
         that with tubers like those
                  you might have made a
         pretty decent portrait painter
                  if you stuck a brush between them.

         But I can’t scrape together one
                  phrase we exchanged; I only feel
                           the lingering expression your
                  face wore when I forfeited the
                           match and you knew I’d given up.

If I could tug the hours back a bit—
         roll up that day in new paper,
                  erase some lines and pencil others—
         I wouldn’t get sucked in by the
                  crotch muscles and the fur bikini.

         I’d make a real study of your game,
                  slide the stone discs with skill—
                           you’ve since become an anecdote and
                  I haven’t ever tried to learn again,
                           because it was your game, not mine.

lemonade’s all gone

There’s an old lemon tree plant against the low rotting fence in the back yard
      its murky foliage is stitched in by bubbling muddy shadows that are
      long-form cast by some pencil stalks of transplanted Japanese bamboo so the jut
      of its broad green beard is always dappled by the shapes of the shifting poles

Not too long ago I would twist its balloon-ripe fruit with small grimy kid hands
      in the preferred season for picking when the sun was high and gold
      and I watched those muscular branches flex under the sheer citric mass
      of water and juice packaged in bright bright rind like hard-won trophies

And do you know the plant still makes lemons that are small now but it flexes
      just the same if a little diminished—all that’s live grows old just like the rest
      of the nameless moving, stretching throng that scrabbles and breeds and dies—
      and this near-barren organism strains to squeeze out just a blossom or two

But being human and selfish I think about when my own usefulness will conclude
      or if my colorful growth has wilted already while I was busy someplace else
      stolen by a carbuncle-faced imp when my dry maw was wide and snoring and
      it pumped out my virility with its little impy tools until I was deflated and infertile

My lifeblood’s been lifted away in a tin milk pail but how much blood is blood enough?
      because I get a real sense that the world’s appetite is fundamentally insatiable
      and I could likely peel back a bit more skin and insert something like a rubber
      siphon with a stopcock at the end for convenience if it would expedite things

I might live-stream the procedure as the plastic spout spurts into the loose gray sand
      with a smack like thickened liquid filling the straight crease of groping desert lips
      drizzling blood from a leaky shower head that shunts it like breast milk to the mouth
      I’ll even aim the flow right at the roots of this old lemon tree plant by the bamboo

wings poem

the ink invades a page, eyed by Valium satellites
spreading its loose-reigned blot in unchecked swells
as it gulps down drams of untranslatable dark

            To think I might hum hollow as an
            abandoned edifice, mislaid, unmanned.

a hand blown hourglass without grains stands
while the phantom-limb clock face plays charades alone
discreetly inseminating seconds between taut exhales

            I am a musky vapor of stamen and petal
            steaming upward at the quicksand sun.

I don’t know which favored flower of the familiar deities
is cultivated widely, and I don’t seek to thumb any divine
by pleading for some old god-hands to rejoin my whittled stems

            That I might be dropped, packaged in spotted eggshell—
            made new in a tranquilized rain of ivory and tan splinters.

I would microscope my two fresh arches of plume grown from skin
in thick ruffles, like flat pearls flamed around hollow cream quills
still damp and beating in tentative flaps near the forever-long fall

            So let me enter the air as tinder and
            become the flicking tongues of wind.