o little drops


Thanks for your card. I like hearing from you.  What a great picture, too: there must be  a million people on that beach in Barcelona,  so many outfits and towels and umbrellas.  And your note’s wry:  “The cyber café has the cheapest postcards.”  It’s different these days, even a little eerie  that a postcard can be from a life  lived two weeks ago—now that the internet  has made the past and present one.  And Instagram and Tumblr together  are like the Big Bang:  you’re everywhere at once in Spain,  with a toothache at the pharmacy,  sipping an icy lemonade in a park  then dipping your bandana in the fountain,  finding the darkness in you  is Goya’s. But I’m so glad you wrote,  and thought to share: thank you.  Yes, I’m mostly recovered, the family’s well— though no one understands Aunt Martha any more,  which has an upside;  you know what Aunt Martha can be like.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Thanks to you, I see again  the face of the clerk at the post office  in the tenderness of her hijab,  how perfectly her sigh made her lips purse  when she smiled at my awful Spanish  and counted out my change  slowly, in impeccable English,  as though I were no smarter  than her stapler. But she liked me,  I could tell: our moment was simple,  irrespective of her politics or mine.  I have been thinking a lot about the light  I glimpsed in her kind irony,  as though I could see  the unflickering living candle of her.  She liked that I was mailing myself a postcard. View Larger


Thanks for your card. I like hearing from you.
What a great picture, too: there must be
a million people on that beach in Barcelona,
so many outfits and towels and umbrellas.
And your note’s wry:
“The cyber café has the cheapest postcards.”
It’s different these days, even a little eerie
that a postcard can be from a life
lived two weeks ago—now that the internet
has made the past and present one.
And Instagram and Tumblr together
are like the Big Bang:
you’re everywhere at once in Spain,
with a toothache at the pharmacy,
sipping an icy lemonade in a park
then dipping your bandana in the fountain,
finding the darkness in you
is Goya’s. But I’m so glad you wrote,
and thought to share: thank you.
Yes, I’m mostly recovered, the family’s well—
though no one understands Aunt Martha any more,
which has an upside;
you know what Aunt Martha can be like.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Thanks to you, I see again
the face of the clerk at the post office
in the tenderness of her hijab,
how perfectly her sigh made her lips purse
when she smiled at my awful Spanish
and counted out my change
slowly, in impeccable English,
as though I were no smarter
than her stapler. But she liked me,
I could tell: our moment was simple,
irrespective of her politics or mine.
I have been thinking a lot about the light
I glimpsed in her kind irony,
as though I could see
the unflickering living candle of her.
She liked that I was mailing myself a postcard.


I lay on the cream shag carpet with my brother
and argue what a kobold is, and is not. I am nine.
Behind the oblong dresser in the basement
is a white stub of chalk with a wolf spider
crouching on it. It does not know I am about to pick it up.

When I am twenty-one, I clutch a cold ten dollar bill.
The gas attendant has a gold tooth.
Says, what are you all dressed up for, missy.
I smooth the gray wool of my bridge coat.
A bell chimes and my shoulder blades flinch.
I cannot see the snowflakes melting into my cuffs.
No eyes watch my body shuffle back to the car
across the ice, no witnesses.

Years later, a lover’s shadow traipses diagonally
across the floor of the limehouse. He’s just told me
he didn’t fall in love with me. The moon in splinters
across stack piles of buildings. I open his refrigerator,
gulp milk from a glass bottle.
There is nothing left for me to do.

My brother has been dead for nine years. A kobold:
a kind of sprite with thin, ivy-colored arms.
See, he is not here to dispute this.
This is what I think when the lover asks why I am
so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.
My fingers coiled in blankets. Thick and coconut white.
I miss everything. View Larger

I lay on the cream shag carpet with my brother

and argue what a kobold is, and is not. I am nine.

Behind the oblong dresser in the basement

is a white stub of chalk with a wolf spider

crouching on it. It does not know I am about to pick it up.

When I am twenty-one, I clutch a cold ten dollar bill.

The gas attendant has a gold tooth.

Says, what are you all dressed up for, missy.

I smooth the gray wool of my bridge coat.

A bell chimes and my shoulder blades flinch.

I cannot see the snowflakes melting into my cuffs.

No eyes watch my body shuffle back to the car

across the ice, no witnesses.

Years later, a lover’s shadow traipses diagonally

across the floor of the limehouse. He’s just told me

he didn’t fall in love with me. The moon in splinters

across stack piles of buildings. I open his refrigerator,

gulp milk from a glass bottle.

There is nothing left for me to do.

My brother has been dead for nine years. A kobold:

a kind of sprite with thin, ivy-colored arms.

See, he is not here to dispute this.

This is what I think when the lover asks why I am

so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.

My fingers coiled in blankets. Thick and coconut white.

I miss everything.


 THE FIRE THIS TIME,
or How Come Some Brown Boys Get Blazed Right Before Class and Other Questions Without Marks
how much damn broke
does it take to want to
burn just before class
lung green with chaos
 
how many times the
police come to the door
way past late, your auntie
face forlorn and flashing
 
in the turning blue, how
much knuckle in a boy
fist gotta break cheek till
body want to go numb
 
how much brave you
gotta front, pay forward
like a hard stare, like a
work muscle jaw
 
how many legal papers
say stay or go, right or
nothing, home or jail
love or palm skin
 
how many words
or promises did dad
mom and god knows
who else have to crush
 
so that you spit out
your eyes and slouch
like a demon, daring
me to call out your
 
name, as if it had
power anyway, as if
your own name, when
you strangle it out
 
your throat spill god
stuff, god, like a broke
egg, baby born into
fire, how come fire
 
put you to bed instead
of sweet hands, good
hands, why they put bad
hands, why bad hands
 
why the fire this time
god, why, we ain’t done
nothing, nothing yet
nothing yet and nothing
 
wrong, except the babies
are on fire, on fire, babies
burning by the stairs
before school begins View Larger

THE FIRE THIS TIME,

or How Come Some Brown
Boys Get Blazed Right
Before Class and Other
Questions Without Marks

how much damn broke
does it take to want to
burn just before class
lung green with chaos
 
how many times the
police come to the door
way past late, your auntie
face forlorn and flashing
 
in the turning blue, how
much knuckle in a boy
fist gotta break cheek till
body want to go numb
 
how much brave you
gotta front, pay forward
like a hard stare, like a
work muscle jaw
 
how many legal papers
say stay or go, right or
nothing, home or jail
love or palm skin
 
how many words
or promises did dad
mom and god knows
who else have to crush
 
so that you spit out
your eyes and slouch
like a demon, daring
me to call out your
 
name, as if it had
power anyway, as if
your own name, when
you strangle it out
 
your throat spill god
stuff, god, like a broke
egg, baby born into
fire, how come fire
 
put you to bed instead
of sweet hands, good
hands, why they put bad
hands, why bad hands
 
why the fire this time
god, why, we ain’t done
nothing, nothing yet
nothing yet and nothing
 
wrong, except the babies
are on fire, on fire, babies
burning by the stairs
before school begins


One Last Thing Before I Go

                    after Dean Young The wrist that holds the leash strains  but does not break, then draws up new contracts with the same mad  dogs. The broken bowl now holds  the shape of glue, its jagged patterns, but it holds, and I can’t tell how to call it, if it’s mostly meant for holding or if its mostly being held, and this keeps me awake in the dark unsure of where to pour my cereal until I arrive at sleep like a bad decision. Outside the crabapples haven’t moved, they slip through stages of soft rot  until each turns to yard, Psst,  I’m frightened, says the iron fence whose rot moves in and grips  more slowly, whose rust will strip  and sting and stay. Every bone I throw slings back, Saturday morning fills with women buying china, arriving home to pile their cabinets higher. Your yowl again in my ear, instead of your broad back  in the doorway. All this standing still.  Remind me to forget when our stillness was somehow moving, to forget misplacing your hands in my bed as your missed plane lifted out of the bright city. Psst, I’m frightened,  your calves like pillars, leaves intuiting  the color of ground before they drop,  cicadas easing off their crusts in the dark, everything perfectly clear, all the brown husks spelling I love you, I’m leaving.  But the leaving season goes on for miles,  hauling its cold freight across the year,  accepting stowaways but never the right ones. When what passes passes at the speed of staying and the heart’s hopped a groaning length of train and the nightshirt’s stuffed with arms and the cupped ear can hear to the field’s far corner and the voice hanging in the throat unwraps itself like a bat and flies out, will there be at last some crisp unsticking, a caboose’s distant chuff  and wag, the red-and-white-striped gates hoisting their easy burdens? View Larger

One Last Thing Before I Go

                    after Dean Young

The wrist that holds the leash strains
but does not break, then draws up
new contracts with the same mad
dogs. The broken bowl now holds
the shape of glue, its jagged patterns,
but it holds, and I can’t tell how to call it,
if it’s mostly meant for holding
or if its mostly being held, and this
keeps me awake in the dark
unsure of where to pour my cereal
until I arrive at sleep like a bad decision.
Outside the crabapples haven’t moved,
they slip through stages of soft rot
until each turns to yard, Psst,
I’m frightened,
says the iron fence
whose rot moves in and grips
more slowly, whose rust will strip
and sting and stay. Every bone I throw
slings back, Saturday morning fills
with women buying china, arriving home
to pile their cabinets higher. Your yowl
again in my ear, instead of your broad back
in the doorway. All this standing still.
Remind me to forget when our stillness
was somehow moving, to forget misplacing
your hands in my bed as your missed plane lifted
out of the bright city. Psst, I’m frightened,
your calves like pillars, leaves intuiting
the color of ground before they drop,
cicadas easing off their crusts in the dark,
everything perfectly clear, all the brown husks
spelling I love you, I’m leaving.
But the leaving season goes on for miles,
hauling its cold freight across the year,
accepting stowaways but never the right ones.
When what passes passes at the speed of staying
and the heart’s hopped a groaning length
of train and the nightshirt’s stuffed
with arms and the cupped ear can hear
to the field’s far corner and the voice
hanging in the throat unwraps itself
like a bat and flies out, will there be at last
some crisp unsticking, a caboose’s distant chuff
and wag, the red-and-white-striped gates
hoisting their easy burdens?


My body is afraid of your body when your body moves to move away. My body is a theme party that’s found a deeper way to care about its guests and when they leave. It’s me and not my body that gets the words of the song wrong, My body lies over the ocean, though it’s my body that gets up now to turn off the television. On it, two bodies who aren’t your body read news that pertains to other bodies and are proper inside their clothing. I or is it my body knows when it’s time to make a room go dark, the trick is sending the sound away. Sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep I picture large quantities of mercury. It feels good to picture this, it all slows down. Sometimes when things feel good, everything speeds up, like when a body responds to the music at theme parties. I wonder if you’re having the same thought as I am having now, that it’s too quiet to be the world. View Larger

My body is afraid of your body when your body
moves to move away. My body is a theme party
that’s found a deeper way to care about its guests
and when they leave. It’s me and not my body
that gets the words of the song wrong, My body lies
over the ocean, though it’s my body that gets up now
to turn off the television. On it, two bodies who aren’t
your body read news that pertains to other bodies
and are proper inside their clothing. I or is it my body
knows when it’s time to make a room go dark, the trick
is sending the sound away. Sometimes when I’m trying
to fall asleep I picture large quantities of mercury.
It feels good to picture this, it all slows down.
Sometimes when things feel good, everything speeds up,
like when a body responds to the music at theme parties.
I wonder if you’re having the same thought as I
am having now, that it’s too quiet to be the world.


the clear water that holds up your boat. The water was clearly built to buoy the boat. It’s like how TV shows buoy the dead. After they’ve died, there they are, their kind faces float just out of reach like a rescue. Like that tiny island. I promise I’m not making this up. Today the world is full of people who are dead and also you are in it. By all accounts, everyone everywhere should be drowning, there’s tons of water all over and only a few ideas about how to stay dry and out of it. From your raft the smell of the water is patient, which for now is enough to love it, which for now is helping. View Larger

the clear water that holds up your boat.
The water was clearly built to buoy the boat.
It’s like how TV shows buoy the dead.
After they’ve died, there they are,
their kind faces float just out of reach
like a rescue. Like that tiny island.
I promise I’m not making this up.
Today the world is full of people
who are dead and also you are in it.
By all accounts, everyone everywhere
should be drowning, there’s tons
of water all over and only a few ideas
about how to stay dry and out of it.
From your raft the smell of the water
is patient, which for now is enough
to love it, which for now is helping.



Tesla Talks to Time

Future
am I       dead?
The world was at warand I was spiraling energy weaponsand sleeping with pigeonsat the top of New York
Maybe the universe is direct in all things
Future
      what happened       next?
The colors I saw were fantasticthey shot me through with full spectrumsthat brought me to my knees
It was a parting of the waves
It was only myself that died?
No true atom splitting bombs            that took out the world?
Clemens told me to be careful what I wished for
I wanted to break      everything
He
Standing in his white coatholding a ball of firethe vile history of this nation
He had to standon a box for the photographs
I hid in the back to look shorter
My plan would never have worked
Future      everything      gotfaster
Lightning is a beat too far to cage
Hummingbirds bees moths in a glass jar
Einstein might be a genius but alsoa fool


Tesla Talks to Time

Future
am I       dead?
The world was at warand I was spiraling energy weaponsand sleeping with pigeonsat the top of New York
Maybe the universe is direct in all things
Future
      what happened       next?
The colors I saw were fantasticthey shot me through with full spectrumsthat brought me to my knees
It was a parting of the waves
It was only myself that died?
No true atom splitting bombs            that took out the world?
Clemens told me to be careful what I wished for
I wanted to break      everything
He
Standing in his white coatholding a ball of firethe vile history of this nation
He had to standon a box for the photographs
I hid in the back to look shorter
My plan would never have worked
Future      everything      gotfaster
Lightning is a beat too far to cage
Hummingbirds bees moths in a glass jar
Einstein might be a genius but alsoa fool

Tesla Talks to Time

Future

am I       dead?

The world was at war
and I was spiraling energy weapons
and sleeping with pigeons
at the top of New York

Maybe the universe is direct in all things

Future

      what happened       next?

The colors I saw were fantastic
they shot me through with full spectrums
that brought me to my knees

It was a parting of the waves

It was only myself that died?

No true atom splitting bombs
            that took out the world?

Clemens told me to be careful what I wished for

I wanted to break      everything

He

Standing in his white coat
holding a ball of fire
the vile history of this nation

He had to stand
on a box for the photographs

I hid in the back to look shorter

My plan would never have worked

Future
      everything      gotfaster

Lightning is a beat too far to cage

Hummingbirds bees moths in a glass jar

Einstein might be a genius but also
a fool


The Wires Led to a Hive This is where I live but these are not my clothes. That is not my voice, a woman says. She appears as herself. The same someone else. Think of something quieter. Child-flower, bed-flower, the long pause her name created. If a singer neglects her title long enough to lose her tone, the first of many eyes emerge. This is the sign of a perfect listener. The look a woman not answering has.

The Wires Led to a Hive

This is where I live but these are not my clothes. That is not my voice, a woman says.
She appears as herself. The same someone else.
Think of something quieter. Child-flower, bed-flower, the long pause her name created.
If a singer neglects her title long enough to lose her tone, the first of many eyes emerge.
This is the sign of a perfect listener. The look a woman not answering has.