THE ARROGANT MAN (MY MAN)listen to this poem
In which it was half habit then half necessity to crowd the middle: the tent walls brayed in the wind.
In which I believed we’d staked everything down or if not locked half in the trunk.
In which we collided in half sleep.
In which God, not prudence, said so, and so I said, “Settle me here,” not meaning only for a time.
In which the arrogant man half understood, and halved the canvas gap between us in the tent, intent on daring what not daring would have made him fully afraid.
In which the wind, to his convenience, half relented.
In which the next breakfast I devoured my bacon and sausages with special relish and impertinently finished half his pancakes.
In which for all that I later hungered along.
In which a half was settled, half was stayed.
A JUNGLE FRIENDlisten to this poem
He was an unpublishable cartoonist, of impeccable taste. We should have watched his spoofs of Batman in bed: truncheons and bottle rockets, explosions in venereal reds that resembled the flora blooming in our private garden.
The arrogant man hums Shostakovich. We watch cartoons, naked on top of the covers, and my fear’s the fear of half-apt hooligans in a warehouse surprised by extra blackness in the night when the bat kills the light.
Rebellious musician, you know the knocking that comes soon, in the Eighth String Quartet, on a night with no moon, writing your capitals in minor. You know horsehair wishing grows hot, the bow and the knot.
A dialogue of insects, then of bats. A huge orphan swings off the screen. Calls from the closet, where the arrogant man has imprisoned your pencil menagerie. Deftly you straddle me.
All in your employ: whetstones against which you pull my prick. Urgently, urgently. You urge me to rise up out of your bondage. This is literal. You toss the keys between my pinioned knees and watch the escape.
ONE OF MANY JUNGLESlisten to this poem
he called it, closing my book on my fingers, folding me between arms. That fortnight we were living in the Jungle of How. Serpents abounded. They coiled in cursive spelling out instructions: How to ignite a pebble, How to fly underwater, How to recover your enemy’s favorite shirt from a bowl of molasses and wash it white – we wondered a thing, and that minute they wound themselves into answers of every sort.
When he took me to bed, long strings of words laid siege to us. They were astonishing our secrets into sight. And how, I wanted to ask, will we get free of them? Shh, he said, before I could finish the tail of the thought.
ELOHIM SPEAKS AN AVALANCHElisten to this poem
Beloved, you do tread daintily; you know the sensitivity of ice
and stone in winter. You know the force
in our inanimate affection, snow-pent, pining, awaiting
the slightest misstep.
You know the tickle of our steamy breath; you tremble
at the live speech from the vent
beneath your ankle about your calf across
your glacial thigh.
So quiver-wriggle-shudder-shake –
jitter-stutter-stumble in our cloud –
Come on! – Cry out
of your idolatries: for the caresses
you drew with your youth to your blackout
skin your blizzard skin your skin
we knew only by touch
in the night, before we had divided
darkness and light.
Fire the gun, slam the gong, wholly
invite this veil, and we will rush
down from our chilly citadel
to embrace you,
will settle you within
our dense cold plague –
roar of desire
and fear so equally mixed
you will hardly believe we are god.
ANOTHER JUGLElisten to this poem
In this version of vacation we work hot little knots
out of each other’s neck ties. We dress and undress repeatedly,
our way of finding out which uniforms clash. The rebel leader
of your prick country scavenges my forests for unexploded ammunition,
turns up nothing. The general-in-chief of my undergrowth shows
a puckered mouth. We live it malarial. We live it like men
who don’t know how to lie down.