open the door a crack and allow the gusts to pin
against the wall each moment that lets me
push ceilings and step down onto mud
to create shapes, bowls the ceramics student
each revolution a day or two, time cut
with machete or similar knife
the thing I wield with one hand only
and cut in half each pillar of virtue
paid for by weather fronts blasted by
casing arms punching through
every evening burning yellows and blues
the paintings on our final globe.
Three boats gone ashore on gravel wasteland
two ripped into kindling and slabs of ruin
bones and other detritus pile around this
innocent pyre unlit and each monsoon
The crunch of sand under the hull warns me to leap
I pull boat over tide level as first raindrops
coat my shoulders with the first goat-skin cape
my ancestors trailed behind them when on the plinth
and over his people.
Each new total moon rise comes the roar from kivs
the callers to the gods to keep evil windstorms
out in the endless seas, brutal waves kill
twenty or so and it is the gods saying
I kept you safe.
The ruler, the bikosiki, shouts over the music
the mindless circles around fires, shouts over drums
the patient sacrifice eyes glazed as if it knew
the truth behind each minute licking ears and
heat from providence.
I too shall be bikosiki and my brother a kiv
and in one year he goes to another island
to be rendered ill and suck venom from snakes
roll out plants, dry them, keep internal storms
from their prey.
Patriarch gives fronted words and warning
to an interaction that sheds shavings
like a blistering patois in a shanty along
So we set off in a dinghy patched twice
seesawing on waves where algae cut
and speck at the roaring clouds on
Seventy miles westward into that gale
to make that straight carve towards an isle
a coming of age week will serve coconut water
Hands shake and muscles buckle at oars
all discussion along the shore fades
like the permissive calm, gone like hunger
One leap by porpoise to catch winds before
the roar of downpours patter roiled waters
cyclones roar around that lonesome world where
I will live.
Right leg extends back
Left cleats anchor in grass
Lead foot breaks hole
Through the rubber ball
Parabola so sleek and clean
Arc the envy of mathematicians
Projectile with total distance
Through no gaps in the air
No hindrances either
Zoom — fast — ekes past
Into a corner of the net
Hot press steam runs across surface like flash fog, trees
Standing by, sentinels, dew a coat or film to ward
Off the bear-trap teeth a wind would possess if it lurched
Forward, grabbing space, miserly, holding every cent
Clutched tight before quarter raindrops clink
Against concrete in handfuls.
Jealous for attention, fog scoops all skyscraper tops in its maw,
Breadbasket incomplete, all mine! I want all, no more
Can the attention shine down like headlamp sun
A thick coat of paint to make vivid gleam
Blind onlookers so that in both instances they cannot see
What they want to see.
Dare I continue with this attempt
to write and share these things I write
or should I leave every single public
sphere that allows me to say whatever
it is I want to say, who will read,
who will care, who will embrace these words,
pause and inspect phrases that leap,
jump, wriggle out from the page?
Dare I go forward and ask for suggestions
from people, from individuals whose opinions
I trust, whose expertise I favor,
praise or critique, comments that will
help me be better than what I am
right now, and also to see
if anyone does care about
what I say?
The entire push to gain visibility. I look,
I explore, I share, and I do have
minute responses. I wonder if I should
simply write for me, write in my own journals,
write there, but not write elsewhere,
write there, but not continue this after April,
write there, but not place so much store
on what others think or say — or what they ignore.
Wake me up from the tax-tinged nightmare
if ever I look at endless strings of numbers
on a screen the size of a Triscuit
for ten hours straight without blinking
so I can submit the forms before a dead-
line that is the same day every damn year.
Even without procrastination my eye
twitches every five minutes when I don’t
turn away from computer screens or cellphones
or other distractions — I may as well pluck
both eyes out and fling them against the wall
letting the yolk slide down and collect in
a puddle at the base, undusted, so I can wait
for April 15 to arrive unexpected once again.
In the world of open frames
The winks of children make you halt
Chicken Little warns you both
Don’t play chicken on the tracks
If you listen to the horns
Bellowing like angry storms
Run away back to your home
‘Fore the demons snatch you quick
New lyric cento, took lines from one of my 2013 summer playlists!
Down, down baby, down by the rollercoaster
It seems this game is neverending
The winter stayed inside the shade
Who’s gonna say a little grace for me?
Out on the sea we’d be forgiven
What did Harvard teach you?
When we were kids I swear we were power lines
City and desert coexist
We’re all walking lightly.
Rows of kousa line the pan that steams
beneath aluminum ceilings.
Steep knee-deep in tomato sauce with
what is known as Arabic spices.
Secret infusions that stuff words back
in mouths, an apple in that roasted pig.
Nobody obtains knowledge of the sumac,
the red pepper, paprika, or a pinch
of something in the tomato paste
we ingest without second memories.
There is no pastiche fitting for these
squashes bursting with lamb that is lean
and considered perfect only for
this Easter Sunday.
You were a week late, he says.
You were too early, she retorts.