Tag Archives: love poems

A Ghost Talking

1.
A ghost walking, hands clasping daggers on a rain-dimmed afternoon.
Too much on my mind; too little mind with which to hold it up.
I’m not a man anymore as much as I am something glimpsed and incorrectly identified.
A blur in the foreground of an old photograph. The viewers ask, in near-perfect unison:
Who is that rushing by, now almost out of frame?

2.
A ghost walking, carrying captured rainwater in two buckets: galvanized metal squeaking as they swing and slop over.
A vinyl album playing on a modern turntable in a second floor room, music in the wet air.
I don’t know this song but that is unquestionably Coleman Hawkins’ tone singing against the rest of the world’s noise.
A wide chorus hovering over the sidewalk five feet up, at near ear-level. Listeners in the vicinity ask:
is there a break in time that makes this so, and who is that ghost, whose water does it carry?

3.
A ghost who glides or floats cannot be described as a walking ghost according to strictest traditional guidelines.
If there is a ghost carrying water, holding knives, or simply floating empty, that’s something to be understood differently.
You ask: what am I not seeing, what am I seeing and not understanding, what am I missing about you?
I say only that I truly don’t know. If I am a ghost, I’m not a restless, disembodied entity as much as something transparent
I cannot fully explain. You see through me, past the love I encompass, past the life I could offer to you.


Drive It Like You Stole It

She pointed to the road
Said let’s go for a ride
Got the car right here
Let’s get going

She gave me the keys
I turned it over once
Started a little rough
Then it started purring

Asked her, “Is there anything 
I should know before we go”
She sat back and said
“Just drive it like you stole it”

Drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it

Just drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it

There’s nothing safe about love
Ride as rough as a moonshiner’s road
Until you find the sweet spot
Then it’s smooth as a freeway

She said let me drive
I gave up the wheel

I said “I promise I won’t quit on you”
She just smiled and punched the gas
Started ticking like a perfect clock

I’m not the kind to let that go

We’re ticking like a perfect clock
That tells the right time all the time
Ticking like a perfect clock
Clicking on all cylinders

Drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it
Just sit beside me while we drive
We’ll drive it like we stole it


Safecracker

Your tongue’s  
a burglary kit.

Your language
spins and steals. 

Everywhere,
cracked safes

and opened rooms,
and all you did

was speak.
I take inventory,

trying to decide
what is missing;

nothing, it appears.
In fact some things

long thought lost
are in fact here now.

In fact, the rooms
are rearranged but full,

all the doors
still close when needed,

and all the dials on all the safes
still spin, endlessly

creating new combinations
for you to test and try.

You are forever breaking
all my locks, all my little codes. 

The sound of your voice
picking its way in. Your hands

turning and turning upon me;
then, the sound

of the heavy door
swinging wide.


Tuesday Fragment

if it all fell to earth before you
like first snow or warm rain

was laid out before you
so you could choose
that which would satisfy you most

could you
open your hands enough
to take it
fold your arms enough
to hold it

if there was one song you could hear
without weeping or turning away

one melody subtle harmony
perfect for humming along
or remembering fondly

could you
open your ears
and hear it
could you 
set your face 
to smile past your tears

all we have 
are possibilities
if we shun them
we have nothing

all we are
is what comes to us
if we flee it
we are lost


Decoding

When among others
work to appear 
to be one of them.
I use words others use,

talk like them, write
like them. Do the subtle
bodyspeak, the gestures,
the moves.

When among others
I sing their song cycles
within earshot;
poem their poetry too.

When fucking though?
My own language, my own 
tongue — and no, not when
making love or even having

sex — those are their words,
not mine; no ruined sensibility
of theirs for me. I speak my singular 
rumbletone hard stop when

in the swing of fucking, speak it
with the Other I’m with, coding and
decoding in the moment
of utterance. Tense agreement,

plural touch. Grammar
of switch upon switch
across skins. Private syntax.
All the cipher we can handle.


Greenwich Village

at eighteen, visiting
for the first time,

summer midweek
getaway with first love,

we walked by a Tibetan
restaurant late afternoon

while an unseen trumpet player —
maybe on a low roof, perhaps

in a window one floor up —
swung a perfect version of

“Rubber Ducky,” and we started 
singing along as we 

walked and swung our linked hands
back and forth, as we almost

skipped, as we 
sped through perfect light

toward our hotel room and 
perfect night.


Desires

Originally written 1999.

I want to climb to you
as if you were living in a tree house
and from there look out at the world
from your level

Even though I’m afraid of heights
and would be paralyzed
and clinging like a rug to the floor up there
I would give up safety
to try and see things your way

Pinned down like that
I might have enough time
to learn you

If I could stick a pin into myself
and use it to hold my form intact until the final stitch
or set one pin in place to hold my bones tight
or use one to make holes in my skin
to receive ink for primal tattoos
that would last crudely forever and speak of things
that I will later wish were clearer and sharper
If I could feel the sharpness
of all the pins that could hold me in one place
and through these pains begin to feel things your way

I would

I would fall off a ladder
by slipping on a banana peel

I would open the door
on a cartoon cliff and stand abashed
for just a second
in a canyon of white space
like a temporary Coyote
watching your Roadrunner dust

I would even do impressions of myself
until last call at an empty comedy club —
stop me if you’ve heard this one before

What I want is for you to become a season
(I vote for late spring
so I can anticipate a full summer’s heat whenever you approach)

What I want is to open my eyes in the morning
and immediately adore what I see

(when what I see is you)

What I want is to see your own desire come toward me
and split open a fresh box of white candles
then set them all to burning

What I want has a name
(your name 
the only name)

Sometimes when I hear your name
I feel like I’m passing a church on Christmas Eve
and I want to be there
walking with a censer
among the faithful

chanting your name
the only name
your name


Peace

Peace is a glimpse
of my partner
lying zig-zag and still
under our sheets, seen
in dim light as I rise
and tend to our insistent cats
at dawn,

reassuring me 
that once this is done
I can return to her side
and fall back to sleep
in as good a place as I can find
in this brightening,
frightening world. 

That there is still at least
one safe harbor 
is enough to let me
remain awake for now
and face the light
that comes now to reveal
what has lately come to power
during the night
from the dark.


Private Language

I am trying to explain the delicacy
of our private language
to a sparrow,

hoping the drab bird
will understand enough
to translate it

and let it pour 
across morning
outside our window.

I hope it will mean something.
I hope it will succeed 
in bringing what we say

into fuller being. 
I hope nature draws it in,
holds it close, passes it back.

I want to hear it in the rain.
I want you to hear it
in the rain and wind. 

I want what we whisper
to one another
to become a shout

everyone hears.
Make it a battle cry,
rally chant, holy song,

Love, you know:
what we say in secret 
to each other

could carry the world
if they could
understand it.


One Worn Shoe

What I can offer of myself
for you to hold onto here:

a worn shoe,
a loose tongue. Mileage
and incessant talk about 
mileage. I show
every step, every stumble,
and I won’t shut up.

One broken shoe,
clearly a discard.
Not worth picking up
from the pavement,
really; stories
spilling out from that floppy
tongue, out of holes
and near holes.

By their nature shoes
are not about hope
once they’re broken in,
instead are about trudging
and when there’s only one
they’re barely noticed unless
one trips over them and then?
Gone, trashed, tossed —

one worn shoe of a man.
Dust in the folds. Dim shine,
politely called patina.
The sole a tattered page.
I’ve been places, though,

and could go farther
even though there’s no reason I should,
even though it looks impossible
that I could go anywhere ever again — still,

how soft I’ve become.
How uniquely gentle I could be
to your touch.


Poems About Love

The man claimed
his poem was about love
but it was about 
fucking and only fucking.

We wanted love poems that smelled
of bullets and instead got this 
rose and mountain stream,
fresh bread and snowdrop scent. 

We wanted to hear love poems
about Babylon falling
and fires in the streets,
but instead got this wordy mess

about hydraulics and heat transfer, 
not at all the same as the fire 
we longed for. Love sometimes demands
a war song. Love is often

a hand up to a streeted body
and a slap across authority’s 
mouth, or at least it should be.
Love sometimes looks like 

riot wounds and how we tenderly
clasp another’s tired hands
in our own after a revolution,
but all this poet can say

is that he wants to be inside,
inside, when all we want of love
is for someone to bleed alongside us
as we fight to come in out of the cold.


You Coming Home

I come home, sit
by the window
at nightfall after the close
of a hard day,
hard month, 
hard year.

I wish there were
softer tidings
in the air.

I sit by the window,
imagine you
as the dawn
of softer days,
months, years;

sit straining to hear
whispers of
you coming home.


A Bowl Of Strawberries

Right now, 
somewhere not here,
there must be
a bowl of strawberries.
If they were here

I’d split them with you —

all I want is the tips.

You can have the rest
as long as

I can feel the
gentle rasp of each point
when I push my tongue
across them all
one by one

and then 
consume each tiny peak
slowly, individually.

You 
can eat them as you wish:
forkfuls, spoonfuls,
handfuls at a time;

soak them down in nectar
or powder them with sugar
from crimson down to pink
before you begin;

they’re yours now,
do as you want, take
your own particular
pleasure in them;

I will as always
eat mine straight 
and pure without
enhancements;

slight bitter
under sweet,
sharp as the knowledge
that what I gave
was just as good
as what I held,

and both of us were satisfied.


The Mysterious Hanging Boulder

There is a difference
between knowing
the Mysterious Hanging Boulder

is safe and feeling it is safe.
You stand under it, smiling.
I take a picture.  

The sign
that says it’s balanced
on three points of pressure

and weighs tens of thousands 
of pounds is visible
just over your shoulder. 

In my head I get
how these things work and 
we both laugh and move on,

but I’m not in my head much 
these days. In my body
I’m terrified. What part of

balance suggests it lasts
forever? I’m nowhere near
strong enough to hold up

the rock, to lift it if it falls,
to do anything more than
document and scream.

The Mysterious Hanging Boulder
is going to be there a long while,
longer than we will, I think. But

I don’t think much these days.
I feel more than think and I feel
like I want to put an arm around you

and get us away from here, no matter
how stupid that seems, no matter
what the words on the sign

seem to promise about
stability and balance
and permanence.


Diet

Originally posted 11/1/2013.

To fall in love is to
gulp uncertainty
as if it were

fresh pineapple juice,
even if you
have never liked 
pineapple juice,  
even if you are 
allergic — to fall in love
is to fear deliciously as you
fall into wondering 
what will happen next.

To fall in love

is to burn the roast,
oversalt the potatoes,
boil the green beans
to mush, break 
the good china, then

as you sit there
in the ruins of 
a traditional family feast,
having watched all your relations
storm out to seek a meal
elsewhere,

you pick up
one green bean,

stuff it in your mouth,
and ask yourself how
one green bean could have
escaped the carnage to be
perfect, and enough, 
how this one green bean became
sustenance enough
on its own;

to fall in love
is to swell with joy
and disbelief

at how
your questions
have been answered.