Rolling hills as far as I can squint
to find that pencil-thin horizon,
the glint from sunlight and soon sunset
to give us tranquility fervently embracing
our march to save our one and only home, yes, every year
I paint myself green for one day,
with dripping leftovers covering those hills
a coat of fresh environmentalism because, beneath
this fairway brightness, we house polystyrene
popcorn, boxes, takeout containers, plastic bottles,
bent metal frames, aluminum cans, batteries,
toxic sludge acting as primer,
clouds hovering as forgotten baggage
decades of unimportant junk becoming (too) important.
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.
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.
Each windowpane reflected durability, the sash and casings built to shoulder the weight of gales in the midwinter. The furnace output stays inside, no way to exit. There is not intermingling of the outside and inside air. I sit huddled in blankets, the tea scalding my insides, content to keep this warmth close to me and all the snow-strewn weather systems in the sky, frosting trees, freezing cars shut, glazing our house like a cocoon, halting time until…
…the thaw allows for more freedom of movement, for people and also for the winds, windows now opened up, like a mouth awaiting its first taste of food, fresh smells of rain-soaked grass reaching everywhere, tulips swaying, and the tree’s bare branches full until…
…the winds increase in cyclonic motions, pitch black heavens hurl wood chips and scrap metal into all stationary objects, trees ripped to shreds, all glory of springtime becomes kindling, mulch, additions to the junkyard pile at the city limits. This roaring miasma of debris has no discernment, no care, for who is standing, who is living, in this house. The whistles compose a demonic concertino, the casings of the windows snap and buckle, glass shattered, the entrance of the winds carry entire assembly lines of scrap in the air, trajectory unknown. What happened to the safety in the blanket, wintertime gusts of bitter cold, and the assurance of safety? This wind, it punctures, it can maim, mangle. It pushes the stuff of roaring nightmares in your face. Not much time to react.