From the manuscript, Arctic Accordions
His highness appears to be asleep
In his chair, a few flies
Hopping on his eyelids.
He doesn’t know how
They found him,
Those dead flies in a restaurant long ago
When he rested his elbow on a sill
And happened to glance in their direction.
There was a young woman and wine then,
A light breeze ruffling their wings.
Like him, they only appeared to be deceased.
Maybe someone with a scythe
Will pass us by one day.
He thinks. It will happen
Like the beginning of a hurricane,
Gently passing its fingers
Through his hair.
I went to my grandmother’s headstone by myself
Because no one would take me.
It was quiet by the cemetery road,
And when I spoke to her I could almost hear
I loved you because love is unburnable.
Because the thought of love occurs
Before we can think. Memory
Before we light the fire. She is in the snow’s star
Now—I hear a voice
When it’s dark enough. The less lit below,
The greater the view above.
“Don’t ‘Your Majesty’ me,” he said, and tilted his head to one side and closed his eyes.
The King let go
Of his cape and it flew off
His back —
He’d marched in one pageant after another,
Heard all the petitions he could stand,
Before becoming a poet
And dedicating his life to prosody.
Somewhere between the ermine trim
And royal blue silk
He discovered art. It struck him
Between the eyes and laid him flat,
Like a cudgel made of romance
And flint. “Don’t wait up for me,”
He said. “I’m not coming back
To the palace tonight.”
Then he kicked his imaginary horse,
And turned his back on
Real things forever.
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A History of Monsters
I was surrounded
By the electricity used to wake me,
A lightning bolt
Walking around in that suit from Sears,
Crackling as I strolled
With a flower in my lapel.
Wow, people will think,
Who the hell is that guy
And why is he smoking?
I noticed it too. Ushering out
Of my sleeves, a little leak
At the bottom of a pant leg,
Cuff on fire or smoldering
Like a branch used to roast a sweet.
It took weeks to think again,
I was so used to the limbo of mild diaspora
Like a child’s drawing dropping off to scribble
Before she fell asleep. I can’t tell
If I’m grateful to be back
Or not. It’s been such a long, fragmented time
Being so many people at once
And never knowing it. I think I’ll write
A book of my lives—running from the villagers
Who hated me, befriended by the woman
Who forgave my nature and my ugliness,
Hunting the creator in the dark.
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