Make-work on the mobship girdling, tuberculose and lungless access yes and not sleeping in this rose-tangle thinking home the saints, just thinking them, the puking wayfarers, or the Seven Sleepers in their infirmary of just one boon. The miasma, its capacious what-like passingly womanful, doing with swagmen that underthing, a pantrywife’s yell or flaysome among under-capitalized gropers, this little monkey for instance, eyes sealed up with candlewax, he outdoes atheists. This little monkey with porkish forefeeling and astride one hip mucks up dogsleep, stacking brainwood, falling backward.


Here we were on that bridge and the clockwork jogs against the merry dark underworry, in the squeeze and un-subsiding, you’d come up the stairs maybe carrying tarflowers, unhappy and already scheming for the next chemical taxi, on the down-speed resolving to and then not to—“Just do the work” the workman says, the pigeonman, the bandyman, the hookman, all this copulatory duplicature, then in some void or chuckhole, drowned-ed with the abstinential counter-offer. Here’s fantastication played up with a flesh-hook, pulled out by the eyestalks, the ears, the throatroot.

This, this now is a person tidy with forgetting.


I wasn’t pulling the parts apart in the ditch-grass yet or saving my bullets but this regime, nightless even as the life-lesson is suspended, I made of it my cause, photographed it at eye level, whole missing days of ours awake and sharp with color, then lost in a blitz or burnt at sea, our bows shot away and anchors gone. To the north you bracketed purplescent clouds—my factories ruined by wind. The streets whine and we fall, you said, or they explode and we run—go shrill, and we drop. They crash. We rise. We may catch hell and earn an hour’s grace but every joint is not a knuckle of charity. We are our purpose dared and story on the crosswise curb.


You the smash product, and where the stone hit, cold—only greed and fumbling tantrums in corridors busy with botchery still. Here passion falls by. What chance, what chant unsays itself, or on the spill-way the oraculous heat and crossed jets fuse. Did you find a place to sleep in the night session, a thousand falling bodies on the sweatful air? Those are stories—but you were real, and me too in my bleakest frock and ruin. O you loyal stupid soldier, don’t you know that dolls are just like other people? I blinked. Night into night again, and slow to button my coat but I’m done. So long, I said to the hourglass—your listener is restless.


A short quavering message, my frock disarranged, or auroral and synaptic like panic grass, like snakebite of course. Yes it could be, and so modern it hurts, like the past which itself is a claw-hammer. Come on let’s go, or visionaries on the radio is all we’ll have under a blizzard of days with the descending root, its rot and orchid all the same. God, I don’t know how the retina does it, but floating in the aqueous humor I see makeshift air-machines in their punky infancy, coils unwinding in the afterdawn, leaving us out-lustered under meadows, I think.


The dress I was wearing, no, the dress and absent cigarette—what kind of haunt and weather reverse-enter pastures on the overpass? “Sorry,” the night watchman said, “the deer and buffalo own this town again,” stockpiled skies persist and we sleep in the crush sluggish at the summing up. Who could have guessed that drastic cables fail the freightment, one boy and one girl moored to some small patch of tar-grass? To the paler men of Mars garrisoned in ruin, hello! Hello, hello—your voices are blinking, the storm that triggered us is ending and roads ascend like balloons.


Talk is wind-play and most of me a simple machine. I may be ruined and made promises of or still less until yesterday when there’d be breakage my love, no slinkier clouds than these and rambling are the masses—from parlor grievance to proper munitions everyone has a hypothesis, each hypothesis a zygote blazing fresh in a field, each field a head, each head my own galleon. I wasn’t so sure. To the umpteenth decimal I’d remember the air and we’ll laugh about it at dusk when camouflage is greater than the arc of twin motionists and ten things all at once—more near misses amidships, or downwind marimbas thereabouts.


You’ll know your sky by the harmonograms it sends when in Aluminium Ages long past one astronaut already feels like a new Jesus and nothing is unchanged, so I too adore flirting from dirigibles—adore it like a sentimentalist and jauntily, having been wherever and still these lifetimes arrive by gapeworm, the receiving cosmosphere gone all white with wattage and snoozing on snowdrifts, my milksick craniograph for example, stands still above a ghost-cloud, hobnobbing with retro-rockets, upcaught in outbound counter-thwarting traffic.


One day is serious, the next a fish in ruins, this egg’s to win the inventor’s love. Cold, and flown on steam engines upward I would, all my clouds at their best and the wrong tense like boom and stumble in heavy shoes, mere surface-farcical. Night. Good-night, then poised in air, zeppelins, the motorway spilled with icy dunnage, day an exploding boiler and me the janitor, o hysteria. The sky’s a sponge and joistless too, kissingly wet and slaughterous.


To every therapeutics a mock re-animation. In other words a grave-digging and rabble-rousing at regular glandular intervals still subject to pregnancy or optimism, arbitrary thoughtiness. Whether by chance or sub-merciful godfulness I lost my place along the self-absorption spectrum, but those, those are tripewives in fizzy disguises en route to some lustrous eyepoint, whereas I, in the same flayed skin wonder at angeli in the street of boutiques and manicurists.


How in the devil came these babies here and their companion beasts of prey, the mice and pay phones underfed? Vapors in a tarry sky dear me, then homeward through the blood grass damnified and as innocent at my seam as apples in the old days, neither now in this economical age. Everything you think fits inside a shoebox, hush. My head sinks into the pillow, no blame attaches to me like a sleep-walker on the roof. But wasn’t this to be the country of makeshift neutrality, our courtesies canonical, my hoop-skirt thrifty and not too clean? You should be glad I imagine bygones backward against the current so that we both may yet be truly modern. Gimme a nickel then, and I’ll squawk like a fish hopeful in night geometries of yore.


In backwardation toward the horizon like the man M away from the tree T under crossed polars or fate-mapped on neuronal tinsel, its shifting stance—as green to pink is good and gravel enough to harbor eggs and hypotheses that breathe charmingly alien in the roily killing air. O the twangy drift of it embayed against the groundmass, all the little blood birds will have sung llusioned and ruinproof, or banter in the ditch-bur, there by the waterish wayside.


The simple ice tongue and needing much more study. On the snow-blanket winding or wasted, conducting surfaceward the bulksome need. Where the nothingist exists, misreckoning, and o the moment, in basal-slip or old snow stumbling. What it says, the so-called mill and huckstering among the timeline’s foliating whims. Gentle dipping strata. Multiplied in lockholes, these are underspheres, and in some of us the blood larking wide-awake. All does never mean all, only halfway closing hinge-flowers neither on nor off we turn to frost. First a very few, and then in better numbers.


At what hour free or confused in a light-trap, just as here the snow worm uni-toned and invisible on a spray of privet close up. Whispers. O you moths mimicking my neighbor Jonah, misremembered in the kissing parlor or rompish in the husks and muck. Bugs like hexametrists, beingful and groundless, lordy the spectacularity these cold summer days. Pink rubble-fern, the ling pug is pinkish too. And pug moths eat at heather and heath like we walk among trees, our aim to stick like headnotes to wings, waste no pairing spare and sloping destination, suns to hold us clear of verges, fetching at windfallen fruit.


In the moment before sundown I made out the details of the lift mechanism where the sub-loving lose their way. Farewell then, to the nerves of everyone but you. I was there too, considering the fields. To cross them hurt, and clouds called out the hour as we traveled the bloodroad of days, each hour was an oracle, it announced its successor, and there were no endings but a slight sheen in the east. This time, I know—and botched thoughts dot the air with celestial gibberish for anyone to read the underscheme, its corollaries of gunpowder and dishonor in a thrilling storm. The skyline is crippled, or so the story goes, blundering heavy. Well, maybe not. The notional moon seems in control, the songs of our youth rising on silver, falling on gold.


What cataclysm? Schooled in ballistics and washed in the pearly wake of days, babe. Washed in the dashed zones, in the last lunar chance and caught up in the catchwork, seeming to exhale children now with their tiny fatal emotions. And the night, the pretty spots of it and nightless shine like eyes of bream and gar. O my chemical angels, we chewed the bitterbur. Then down the shute, glissando—gone in, my christful ones, with a big encyclopedia and the vocabulary all worked out. The blood’s perfect, carried through and cardio-dynamical, love-ripe to have its vengeance on paradise while we hum inside the thunder-stroke with jabberers of old. Never you mind, but I’m blitzed with joy, my self-effacing statuary decorates the zoösphere. The quickborn tumble chromatically, one to start, the rest to surely follow.


There is very little gleaming black and forth, by the word hoarded or by other effects our living forms even in cataclysmic motion, sweet. I loved the hurly-burly, clocks, the babies—that much is true—and my four consoling theories—absent but feminine, angelic malaise, redeeming slopwork, euphoria in the shock-seat. Of all the garbage, these were madhouses. Whosoever sat in fond new roads saw us metered out in loot and chaos-roses for heat lost. O precious landings.

I wanted you in your saddest life, in your sleepless dream, the blinding flash-trickery stretched across the midpoint, to leave this untidy heaven-grab and on the cobbles here, the crammed house and Boston lightening fast. Your letter is playing on the victrola, on the nerves too, and I can make the children think that I am you, a stowaway—where’s the love in that? Everywhere and overmuch, memory afloat. Descend, old epitome, already body and flame are fallen below.


A narrative then, scenographical and without dazzle. There is fatality in it and I abide in the upshot, in a flatboat and with our gramophone the reliquary of its own concocters. O luckless and capsized destiny. Winter is with me and this bundle of sticks I use as a clock. No reply. Good heavens, had it been me, I would have come right away, shivering in the shiver-weed and dreaming shiver-birds—because this is what it was, to have night rehearse one’s tomorrowful of purgatory, the candle-makers in their state of beeswax blessedness and the reigns on my mind slackened though not so bad as this. A sordid thought, but journeying back to Boston, windfish tangled in my hair, my tricks subdued by the blow and ice, all the answer I will ever give. The deepwatermen, their riddling wives, where are they now? For them and the tar-boys, and for the dogs under the bridge, here’s gingerbread and domestic extravagance.

These poems first appeared in various journals, including:

Big Bridge


Tin Lustre Mobile

88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry

Indefinite Space

melancholia’s tremulous dreadlocks

home / io not io / prose / drafts / about

%d bloggers like this: