Daily Archives: April 8, 2021


A poem from, roughly, 2002. Slightly revised.

Monday night bar in Union Square,
loud enough to allow for intimacy.
You have been here for hours when a co-worker
who is also the woman you’ve been seeing,
who has also been sitting across from you all this time,
rises from the table and turns toward the door.

You catch a glimpse
of a tattoo on her back, 
visible between the shirt and the belt;
it stretches from hipcrest to hipcrest
as if she has sprouted 
low-slung wings.

She leaves the bar,
moving away from the sound of your voice
out into the night.
You suspect she’s thinking that 
though your words, like stones,
were clearly born in fire, 

you have tumbled them too long between
your water heart and your earth tongue;
made them cool and gleaming and edgeless; 
you took and tossed
the once-burning words at her
and it felt like hail in July.

How will she ever rise
when you keep burying her 
under such a tumble
of dead things?
Inside her a stone is growing
where you once were.

She is gone,
but you drink for another hour. 
On your own cab ride home,
you begin to plot a new path 
toward her heart.
Your dreams burn and spin all night.

Next day,
you wake at 6 AM.

There have been many things 
in your life that were 
seen once or many times 
and unremembered 
until they were needed —
ripple on a lakebed, 
patch of wrinkled layers in old stone,
some tree gnarled into a twist waiting
until they could give meaning 
to something else. 

Her face last night.

You hear secret voices,
voices heard solely in the body, 
saying that
revelation exists 
in a simple trace of 
transcendence – even inside 
the skin and eyes 
of someone you think you know.

Before now, you certainly
would not have called out to God
when thinking of her. 
Now your brain slides into that way of being — 
now you say, alone in your bedroom,
what you have learned: 

it exists, 
it certainly exists,
a way of living, 
a holy space
that only another body
can make real —

because you will not call it 
‘being in God’,
you will call it 
‘being in love’. 

You have never felt like this 
before work before –
ready to pray all the way up to the 
forty-fifth floor.

By Tuesday noon 
you have run back down 
forty-five floors,
you’ve learned thousands 
of new names for God, 
crying them all 
as you run from thunder, 
fleeing stone 
and powder 
and shock.

The running itself is a kind of prayer
that she is running too
or watching this happen from elsewhere, 
one hand on her mouth, tears 
leaving trails in the white, 
awful dust on her cheeks.

Your running is a prayer
that she can fly.

You kick over the television at 9:30 PM.

You have not spoken for hours,
staring at the phone,
waiting for it to ring, waiting.

You close all the blinds
while waiting,
waiting for the phone to ring, waiting.

You wish you could drink but everything tastes like suicide. 
A pill forms in your hand while you wait,
wait for the phone, waiting.

A pill washes down
past the scratch and raw breath of your coughing. 
A pill makes you lucid in the face of delusion
long enough to realize
that someone really is at the door, it’s your landlord, just arrived, 
all the roads closed, been waiting for hours in the lines,

checking up on all of his tenants, tells you
the towers are gone,
the towers for the cell phones are gone, 
no calls coming in or out, no calls, 
all those hours waiting, 

air filled with voices in tears, 
in arrest, in thrombosis, in embolism, 
waiting, waiting,

with crush injuries, 
burns, inhalations, rages, fevers,
blames and names and hatreds,
silences and understandings,

moments gone with
all the bodies newly torn, flung, 
sundered, crushed, and cindered;
all the memories

and the bearers of the memories 
waiting to get through, 
hoping to reinflate, 
to reanimate, to be reborn:

you’re still 

Wednesday, driving north from the city
before dawn toward New England
to stay with friends. It’s mid September,
nearly time for the leaves to come off the trees
in one last burst of flame. 
The day looks like it is going to be perfect.

You are trying to remember yesterday morning’s dream of her,
how it felt to rest in the moment of knowing she could leave you.

You linger on one small moment of it:
the moment of not caring where she was, 
as long as she was out there somewhere, 
as long as she was happy. 

You called it love then, 
but now you know it was God. 
that moment of being
without attachment to the result 
was something you could call God; 

a name you could hang 
on the moment,
a name you’ll cling to 
though it has become hard to say because
it does not include enough syllables 
to describe the fact

that you didn’t bother
to bring your cell phone with you this morning,
that you did not leave
a message on hers before you left.

At a rest stop outside Waterbury
you pull over.
Maybe you fall asleep. 
It isn’t important ?
what matters is that 
suddenly all around you
the earth is pushing up geodes
by the thousands.
You pick one up and it cracks in your hands,
spilling oceans of ancient, limed water,
soaking your hands with salt and 
the flakes of 
long concealed

She is suddenly there,
watching you weep, 
and as she rises from the ground 
she tells you:

keep moving

there are more names 
for God 
than any of us ever 
could have 

Congressional Record

In a government built 
for and by men and only men
the most honor will be given
to those whose eyes mist over 
with bland depravity, the ones
who will square their shoulders
and sigh, "Well, nothing else
to be done here," then send 
soldiers and bombers
off to do bloody dirt 
they would not do
with their own hands. 
With their own hands 
they will sign orders 
for murder squads, then
go home to families, trot babies
on their knees till bedtime when they will
hand them back to women and go sit 
in their dark studies wondering 
what will emerge tomorrow morning
from the beige fog 
of incremental catastrophe in which 
they live and breathe.
They live and breathe 
for this distance from their kills
as if they've developed a taste for the news
of how children's bodies were churned
by explosives, how the targets ran screaming,
how the pushpins then were moved 
around their maps as a result, their eyes 
misting over with bland depravity, 
their lust for other lives twisting within them
as they vote, as they argue and deal,
as they campaign, as they square their shoulders 
and say, "So much more to be done, 
may we have your vote?"