to unpaint on her skater jeans means nakedness. my sick cyclops sings to spite your five-day pain. a critique of reason. i mistrust dichotomies & modern life summaries: three-team trades & the number twenty-four car. it’s no longer give & take but givetake (phenomena in which one appears to be giving in order to take later) & takegive (phenomena in which one thinks one is taking but gives up something unforeseen or unknown). & other systemic models. spend mornings perfecting my machine: spiritbody bodysoul mindsoul soulspirit etc. for repeated revolutions concentrics of task. recap @ 11. my crew chief says i’m in last place but i think he thinks winning. & so i think winning. to trust his divinations like the drone bee trusts the queen? the cyclops the skater & my third eye have hands on the planchette. it moves & spells in an imaginary grammar readable with telescope & ephemera & a wait-a-second russian doll mind. to interpret is to drone. it’s all staves from hear. FEAR WATER FEAR FIRE FEAR EARTH FEAR AIR. i write this locked in a closet wearing a HAZMAT suit bright yellow like her skater hair is her self-esteem in love with her own skinned knees.
Contrition in the Abode of the Word
List me a sinner.
That I lost my center, fighting the word.
I declined to write of the fidgeting world.
That dreams clash & are shattered— & slash their prices. Nobody buys. All are too busy, buoyed by the promise of Paradise & the illusion of its value once possessed.
Do not move Paradise, without first updating the map.
Let a wino speak & say, “That I tried to make a paradiso terrestre, but vomited instead.”
A dream clipped & shat upon in the nest— that is paradise. It has nowhere to fly to & no pretense of beauty.
I have tried to write to Paradise: Dear Paradise, Do not move or how shall I find you?
That letter lingers, draft unsent. Let the Gods forgive what I lied to wreck-- Hell, it’s their job.
Let the windows speak to the wind, hollering, “IN HERE PARADISE IS ON SALE!”
What have I made? An innocent pear? Whither? Arrest me. When my Fridays blacken, I will jostle & trample to gain admittance to Paradise, an agora where I must transcend the limits of my capacity to spend.
Let the widows, their voices long declined, speak of the gone men, & remember them to their depleted disposable incomes.
Let the sinners who outlive me, apologize for what I’ve bought & not made.
Let the wind speak. It has earned its chance to filibuster.
Let the Gods ask forgiveness of those I love in Paradise.
To sacrifice to a spirit not one’s own
is flattery perfect o lynx perfect or lotus willward unfolding, then, these winds. my smoke hole, my mouth, flatters none other than my spittle. o my shovel!
the directionless geese teem with people, the waves with phytoplankton, and language points the direction of one’s will to explication. south
sacrifice is flattery. i name it not Athena . then to be more beautiful strung between what milk has soured, though, in serving just warm in service
to memory of mind. seven languages stir the borscht and wrestle the radish and butternut squash. anything can be aioli in the death cells. anything
can be language you may have eaten. lynx meat and mortars the flame- seared blood of creatures in mouth- corners, meat scorched long enough
to be terrified of earth, of air, of water i breathe, breathe and drown a life in fire a while anyways. a sparrow subdues attention dross as embers
in flickers that fade into feathers. a postmodern surface of wingflaps, bring me ruin four consecutive Thursdays until collapse and water in streets.
a language of damp threatens upholstery, basements, papers sodden and clothes. inundated with the tragedy, a night terror blows into morning the moorings
of our basement sea-cradle language, as it rocks, invents, departs like love in which as you take and take in, it eludes the palate of desire’s fancy and possession.
between the nose and velveteen tannin, dollars appear. pay and the water pumps away: plughole, yard, spider, catfish, chrysanthemum. the sewer under
the moon knots the ocean takes millennial language to explain away and blur midnights of lunar haze. sublunar me left to forecast ruin and cast lots. the fool can rest trusting
mistrust: a cage he keeps. each trained hunting dog knows the taste of the feather of fowl. minutes before the death they nourish the chase. this same will heals the eyes beyond
surgery, beyond the salve made with the prophet’s saliva as it pours from gutters of summer.
-- Steve Halle is the author of the poetry collection Map of the Hydrogen World and the chapbook Cessation Covers. He edits the online poetry journal Seven Corners (7C) and is the founding director of Co.Im.Press. He is the assistant director of the English Department’s Publications Unit at Illinois State University