into its own fixless
dew-thighed-today i set out to find my missing vowels
with me i have only the things you bring to picket fences, to human scenes
and some movements not yet tender
and some ridges each too frayed
and some cupped hair all too harsh
and only one conjoining feature
and flowers and grasses
and the little-hooped-man who raised his head to swallow me whole,
look at me like a charming motif
until i rose full size as a wall decoration
for him i am figure-of-eight
for him i am of a bull’s hide
for him i am a signet
and yes, i am presumably made of matter
presumably a signet
presumably just a warning
that before the dismal disaster i set out, swollen and waiting for the worst to happen,
for the sound of sliding boxes. for knowing
that grey is synecdoche for age
shrinking for hurt
and smiling for end-state
yet still asking if this is it.
if this is where i shout into the open mouth of the sea’s lapping hurrah and yell
thank you thank you thank you thank you
on the day i accept love’s tepid tide, i still shudder
and watch wood stretching in summer, sucking power from its mold,
and still it’s the most innocent gesture
keeping the body upside down
feeling blood flood the throat
hearing the body rev its engines saying,
im right beside you and alone is some sensation so im all around you
SIGN AND SEAL
Three years later, the question of remains:
can my body be the sign that I survived?
Asking after the distance between how and why
men split lives, between means and ends,
a life thrown toward their convergence.
One hopes that pain makes nothing,
that history does not deign
to produce us. And yet we seek
that which endures, and in doing so,
speaks its listening.
This desire is the imperative
to make an incomplete world.
We cannot take each other
as the seal of what
we have failed to know.
I would like my presence to say:
“Though the two of us have lost
both origin and destination,
there is no parallel, no recurrence,
there is space outside of living.”
Denegation of: “It is happening again,”
marking the time I have spent
waiting for my brother’s child,
traveling forward and sideways
with the movement of the night.
“This is only a test. If this was an actual emergency, you would be supplied with additional information.” I watch the birds rise with the noise. For them it is a total sound, air waves landing on their bodies without conversing. If I put my head to their chests in flight, the test might speak to me with this sound. This proximal speech is not my knowledge, but my claim.
I inherited a lithograph of an open plain from my grandmother, printed by a man named Oren Johnson. It is hung in my room. I am waiting to ascribe some scrap of language to it, but somehow I have never found the right. Two shapes enframed: almost ground, almost sky. Oren on the plain and spinning, watching a continuous line. When he stops, the line changes. One could say this place has two horizons, the stretch of the land and the limit of his view, and in my room, one hangs without the other. The frame is the part that speaks Oren’s claim.
Somewhere I am speaking, and my words are immanent. This is my loneliness: this ripple of air, this emergency unclaimed.