Relocation

Our city becomes another’s city and they don’t even live here.

Our city becomes another city that will one day glow, for miles underwater.

Our city has strategically-planned streets, and accidental cobblestones. The neighborhoods have their symbols, their light-pole banners, their car washes and coffee shops. Clogged drains and stray dogs and condos and bullfrogs. A little fence to keep the heart in. A garden. Ten Thai restaurants in a row. A bus stop and a newspaper on every homeless porch.

The neighborhoods remain separate, or they collide. Some are ramming into each other, smash-mixing, in the time it takes one body to fall from the observation deck.

The streets below the streets are daunting, gurgling with sewage. A black-gloved hand motions outside a window. People are coughing, steaming into each other’s faces on the subway. No one has a face unless it is cut out of a magazine.

I moved out of the city. Now, my neighbor is the one whose name I forget every other conversation. His neighbor is me, and a young family with closed blinds and a yard full of broken plastic. We circle each other like dogs, not saying anything. But the truth is that we live with our families and this is a nice neighborhood, close to schools and shopping.

I moved out of the city and now I don’t even live here.

My neighbor remembers how bright his city glowed too.
Our sons are jerks and we are embarrassed by what we thought we knew.

 

This poem of mine was just published on uutpoetry. so this is basically a cross-blogging platform #reblog.

No One Belongs Here More Than You

our limbs are only softening
around the joints
and in the end, having to
find not only one single place to be ourselves
but to live out the life of a circus
wicked torches and trapeze wires
delicate and bracing,
strong and self-referential
a homesick tiger, pacing

spotlights dusting below
the under-cup of your breasts
it’s wetter on the dark side of the moon
nothing grows and nothing glows
but the potential leans out at us, for life
from the cratered things
which taste of borrowed light
from other galaxies 

the same tired words
now exploded on our tongues.

Title borrowed from a story (collection) by the wonderful Miranda July, because it ‘belonged’. The rest is my own.

Sexy

I am leaning against the side of the house again this morning, smoking a cigarette.

I used to come out here before everyone woke up, to think about everything that is wrong with all of us. I am tired of thinking, lately, and I rest the back of my head against the brick and watch the smoke curl up from my lips. It looks awfully sexy, but strange too. Feeling sexy when your socks are soaked through with dew.

The cigarette is done now, and I stash the butt under the rock that I keep just behind the fence. My head feels strange, too, because I’ve stood up too quickly. A car starts somewhere down the street. I touch my lips and have to force myself to go back inside.

The Inconsolata and Wounded

At the edge of stuck time, a tribe lived near
to where the whole world softens to a point-
the bayou ghosts are swirled through
with vacuum dust from the future
and trees bloat with the excreta
of parasite operations-

The Inconsolata
built unholy boats on the beach,
fathers fathers sons sons
cleaving skin from muscle among the old and diseased-
the hulls were quilts of human need

Unstitching time inside the caves,
sad shapes of women
blotched deep-purple, swollen thumbs  
stained with blood and blackberries
something starved-black
and gaping
out of the backs of their swathed and boiled heads

The Inconsolata
who have seen their boats dissolved-
brother-sisters and sister-brothers
called to the depths, in lulls or storms-
those on the shore
who have seen the black doves take wing from water
to manage the sinking, in coupling,
and byzantine aerial formations 

to manage the wounded, quietly suffering
left to soak in silver pools, miles below mountains
wishing to be lain beside rivers
where the moss
could sprout from their chins-
wishing for a green kind of help
from a tribe
interested only in skins.

What Remains, After Exhumation

We all remembered
how our great-aunt Helene’s
house was
noisily full
of retired ghosts, dragging
abacus chains, clicking
black eyelids
which seemed just like two halves
of
a bivalve shell.

my own room was cold
empty with
the silence of all the elephants
dull pink with mud flaps

run out of it.

seeing that
the mailbox bird outside
is a crow, of course leaping
right at the
man with a green horn
right at the
sitting duck eyes, gleaming
a gleeful stab! –
the way Helene wants it
the way

a spider
could live in your cheek
or you could wake up every
morning
with flecks of rust, staining
the pillow
and no idea if anyone in your
family is still alive.

Community

Spadina Road stretches north of Bloor, the hipster bustle of the Annex fading into a series of run-down apartments. The crush of vehicles on Bloor thins here, too; the noise of the traffic punctuated by the low rumble of the subway below. Walking north, on the left-hand side, I meet a high wall separating the sidewalk from the Native Canadian Centre, the NCC. In the evenings, smoke and song drift down to the road; sometimes there is music playing, children running barefoot along the wall. The campfire coals turn red, and then to ash, and groups of old men gather around a rusty bucket, tossing butts like horseshoes and speaking in hushed, gravelly voices.

There is a Community, just steps from my front door, of which I can never be part. But each day that I pass, the smoke and song remind me that, I too, have blood that flows red.

A Chili Reception

He slammed the pot down on the stove, sending a spray of kidney beans and ground beef flying through the kitchen. The beef hit the fridge in clods. Her face, the dog, stunned and speckled with the grey-brown meat. The kidney beans slapped on the tile in quick succession, littering the floor like fallen crabapples.

Perhaps he would be allowed to attend the Superbowl party after all, she decided, using a thumb to swipe the grease from her nose. The empty pot still clenched in his fist, he looked her right in the eyes.

She thanked God that he hadn’t yet added the tomatoes.

The Annex

She sat on the balcony every night
for the next three days,
smoking and drinking
black coffee
until the darkness gave way to the
uncertain
light of morning

Her thin hands
trembled,
held the mug,
cradled as a precious fragment
of intimacy
amid her fitful isolation

The sky flickered across
in alien hues,
she chewed her lips worriedly
the cigarettes were stained red
a metallic taste thickened
against her tongue

The low rumble of the subway
begins as early as five a.m.
beneath the streets
a great and terrible beast
is stirred from slumber

The people spill into the streets,
and the beast sighs and goes back to sleep.