it must be over

the doughnut tasted like the dentist’s chair

attempt means consequence

what is now is important but later – surprise!

stop ignoring, start remembering

to love open-handedly.

Advertisements

Landscape With a Blur of Conquerors by Richard Siken

“To have a thought, there must be an object—
the field is empty, sloshed with gold, a hayfield thick
with sunshine. There must be an object so land
a man there, solid on his feet, on solid ground, in
a field fully flooded, enough light to see him clearly,

the light on his skin and bouncing off his skin.
He’s easy to desire since there’s not much to him,
vague and smeary in his ochers, in his umbers,
burning in the open field. Forget about his insides,
his plumbing and his furnaces, put a thing in his hand

and be done with it. No one wants to know what’s
in his head. It should be enough. To make something
beautiful should be enough. It isn’t. It should be.
The smear of his head—I paint it out, I paint it in
again. I ask it what it wants. I want to be a cornerstone,

says the head. Let’s kill something. Land a man in a
landscape and he’ll try to conquer it. Make him
handsome and you’re a fascist, make him ugly and
you’re saying nothing new. The conqueror suits up
and takes the field, his horse already painted in

beneath him. What do you do with a man like that?
While you are deciding, more men ride in. The hand
sings weapon. The mind says tool. The body swerves
in the service of the mind, which is evidence of
the mind but not actual proof. More conquerors.

They swarm the field and their painted flags unfurl.
Crown yourself with leaves and stake your claim
before something smears up the paint. I turned away
from darkness to see daylight, to see what would
happen. What happened? What does a man want?

Power. The men spread, the thought extends. I paint
them out, I paint them in again. A blur of forces.
Why take more than we need? Because we can.
Deep footprint, it leaves a hole. You’d break your
heart to make it bigger, so why not crack your skull

when the mind swells. A thought bigger than your
own head. Try it. Seriously. Cover more ground.
I thought of myself as a city and I licked my lips.
I thought of myself as a nation and I wrung my hands,
I put a thing in your hand. Will you defend yourself?

From me, I mean. Let’s kill something. The mind
moves forward, the paint layers up: glop glop and
shellac. I shovel the color into our faces, I shovel our
faces into our faces. They look like me. I move them
around. I prefer to blame others, it’s easier. King me.”

packed/storage: south jersey

tight chest & gleamy eyes

gaping out the window at some memories

which flow over the wide grasses

the flickering trees that flash by

as sunlight dapples, shades, twists

a hint of nostalgia, the recall

of something good. Spring has sprung

what can I fear? this is real, I think

or at least I was

loved here once

gator ride through the orchard (easter)

the tractor growled, and we flew down the hill,

twisting, turning through the trees

steering handle spinning as we snuck past the fence

“This is illegal, by the way”

the grandkids are screaming, half fear, half delight

that grandpa would do something so reckless.

mentally, I am careening back across that Arcade highway

the snowplow shatters us again! I snap back to reality

jolting, the grass is high and the road is rubble

the steep hill we are climbing, fast

like the road to Kidepo, soaring over the stony hills

swerving, sliding around in the loose shale

even the dirt matches, it is orange dust

and I am 12 years old again, home and free

after burning season, the grass comes back this green

and the ash leaves charcoal traces all over your white skin.

wanted

everything is full of ghosts.

they are dead on replay, they rise

out of a song lyric

a water bottle

friendly shoulders

some chairs at night.

one specter awakens and calls up all the others,

their bones rattle as they write

words with their fingers and tongues

 times when you wouldn’t be forgotten outside in the cold

quiet art galleries

being asked to dinner

really white sheets and A team

you’d have people to sit with at the show

though these are all good things

they sting as all broken promises do. So I commune with these spirits,

tired of avoiding these commonplace terrors,

wait for those to come forth that calm the others

the peaceful, quieter, subtle loves

the stories that did not end in heart-wrenching shame

they come close and silence the ghosts which say

life will never be any better than failure.

fair son (fort portal, summer 2013)

upon leaving, the last a terrible tirade

I wandered home, a great explorer from Europe

skin glowing without light, hair dark from too many shadows.

We slept on tinder, a great tree-built tradition

high in the elephant-grass hills.

the walk down to the lake beneath us was long,

and I burned my soles, arriving dusty to the enveloping tree shade

where I fell, over the rocks and into the murky greeny-brown

ka-splash silence

everything suspended for a moment

and break the surface to air again

still aching from a year of misunderstanding, my form

my frame, my body

just really wanted to win something, do it right for once

so I began kicking, arms pulling,

working every muscle till it burned

I slowly swam, the far shore my focus

rocky, looming, dramatic grey cliffs

it seemed hours, but I used the last bit of my strength

to heave myself out of the unknowable darkness

tearing skin from my arms and legs, I collapsed

heaving air into my diaphragm as I lay beneath swaying palm trees

bleeding onto the rocks, water and sweat diluting each drop

running from me in rivulets, soaking the fallen reeds

(I conquered fear of the unknown)

and I couldn’t see the far shore.

argument

I wouldn’t mind sand and salt

in my hair, which I imagine long and unkempt

loose about my shoulders, sticking

bare skin cool in pools of gathering water about my limbs

the sunlight gleams on my ocean, always setting, always rising

your voice elevates in pitch and I turn

the foamy white waves turning with me,

hair billowing, suspended in watery space,

the anger I was trying to let go of

returns in full force. I don’t want to hate,

so I will focus it, damn this table between us.

and the switch clicks off again, I am

somewhere drowning and you are still talking rivers of words at me

wise fool (what is the point of art)

Maybe my hands are smoky,

fingers count one, two, burn-pull

or just your breath hanging in midair,

words crystallizing between us, floating

out a frosted window from your teeth.

waterfire. a gushing sound approaches

my brush, painting hair out of my eyes again

green forehead, green eyes.

they are balloons of light, coloured with melodies.

I must use my twitching, twisted phylanges to birth them to this plane

so I am not the only one who believes in them.

gallery

weighted, wandering, I gaze at

each fleck of gold, caught in

the streaky colours that fill the walls,

carefully composed into chaos.

worries smile and crawl

out of my skin

curling up safe in a tiny triangle of green,

laying down in a perfectly shaped eye

grinning back at me.

They live there now, healed and happy

whenever i find this painting

I will also find them.