Two poems

someone put a grenade in my heart

your face went white as the summer clouds above your shirt
above the fountain where I dropped my clothes on the granite
you never thought that I could flee the dayjob naked as a newborn baby
but bare feet slapping concrete
may be the drumbeat for the end of the world
so don’t look so ashamed of life
when I take off my shoes and let them melt into the sun
don’t let the reflections on the granite and the grass obscure my smile

we hold hands over abysses that open like teenage legs
ripping the sod open in quick gasps
and the orange light at the end of the world
scorches the worms back underground
in the punctured gaze of your love

people embarassed to be outdoors
go blinking by taking pictures of themselves
dazed by the eclipse
and by the flickering of the sun

I see human voices in unbearable color
taste gravestones through car windows
like ice cream flavors
I see a new light in June
I see a campsite on the backhand of the sun
see a new light in June
feel like an infant in the bank
letting the numbers jumble like cobweb in the corners
where no rugged footstep is innocent

dark hallway where fluorescent flickers numbly highlight
gentle calves pantyhosed above the glowing floor
let the stalk bulbs burst finally like flowers
so I can go back to the backyard of my own dreams
where the room is a mess of white feathers
in the bursting of cushions
and music is the last religion

here the morning is crimson and everyone smiles like babies
the sound of water trickles through the air
a voice trembles from an intercom
and guns click like adam’s apples in the hands of airport guards
at some point I stopped feeling the pain
of the boredome in waiting rooms
and the flipping of ancient magazines
like the lapping of waves in autumn

let the eyes sparkle like diamonds again
retrieving their embryonic love
let the coals glow like broken suns in the fireplace
forgetting their orbits

I have seen the nurses look ancient as cave drawings
diamond eyes examining the tender bruise that twilight leaves
I have seen the trays lit up by sunlight on the blades
I see a new light in June
and a lawn chair balanced on the sun
and my mother’s hair curling like an embodied symphony
soft brown in the crude symphony of now

hitch-hiking on the tar that seems to ache with me
I see kind faces slowing engines down
to take a trembling hiker into imploded towns
where the lazy legs that drag beaten floors under barstools
have no steps left to take
and the spiders make a noise like raindrops
in the back of my mind

I did not build this particular world.

the park grass bends gently to let down their bodies
briefcases and guitars pressing into that ground
for a moment there is unity in the movement of pigeons that blurs the human rhythm
then the offices, the glass doors, the throbbing studios
take us back into our lairs
and the sun waits through afternoon
beating the benches to death with its heat
for us to sit again together in undiscriminating love

this beauty exacts a price, this sun has a maker
says my friend
and I have felt the price since my birth
to sit with eyes like scalpels in the military shade
as the marching footsteps steal me into my bunk
and I remember the drumsets ricocheting their grim little sounds
in a low house of brick
the beautiful hair sticking out in blue spikes
from some ancient culture that ended moments ago
as the shadows stretch out like lions
and the kids beat the drums
the faces on the grass grow solemn
eyes reflecting computer screens
one thousand unwritten scripts
hopeful in the hollow of the brain
to take me tender on the grass
angel with eyes like cotton
cloud that murders me with sadness
I hesitate to ask you
why I was born in this year

the mirrors run like little waterfalls
and I have been thrown out of my own life.

strange blue-eyed men at desks feel my muscles and ready me for battle.
they don’t know the mind soft and flimsy as the wing of a pigeon
under my skull cap
or the eyelids that flutter like moths in the crimson dark
they don’t see the clump of red hair like a bedridden lifetime
coiled in my pocket

porch lights, arguments
become one instrument

dark tar, shrouded face
forget my innocence

broken moth of my hand
warped saxophone of one thousand forgotten subways
the eyes that looked over airplane wings
fearless in the turbulence
recall machinery, the sounds like plates breaking in the distance
like a bunch of plates being pushed over the horizon
as pianos give up their last crescendos
and the girl who plays those bitten keys
in the heart of the nursing home
ages in front of me

they are rolling up the rugs
they are leaving the floor bare like the belly of a whale
and sheets flicker like sails in the hard winter wind
activities out of season
old ladies gather at glass tables
and their reflections stretch smiling
family trees fragmented in their eyes

we pass them cups as old friends chatter in my memory
we pass them napkins as car crashes snore in the snow
in the snow like television static

the ancients don’t ask me anything.
I am a mop drizzling in a hallway.
I am yesterday’s newspaper.
I am a classified ad.
I am a milk crate.



morning lay itself wide open once
it was a seashell scraped clean of meat
by the waves that were its troubled seasons
dried by sheets of sunlight
and left open to the intrusion of all the worlds
the sand was strewn with dark green glistening seaweed
it was the tangled hair of my lover
whimpering against gravity
the beach was carved into large swirling navels
eyes without sight
by the receding waves
and I was tormented by their unceasing beauty

a little sidewalk was carved through time
we used it for a while
then let the flowers and the weeds
split it with a slow and fertile groan
all of the walking eyes
were little blue flames
I think God let Her hands
glide across our painted bodies
for an wildly expanding minute

the earth was split into shelves
its hemispheres turned outward
and laid askew in the sky
soldiers lay on the banks of solid, sandy clouds
dying their hearts beating themselves into the ground
their bodies quieter than the rhythmic assault that trapped them
their blood ran on the distant sands
and back into my blood

I wish our flesh was louder than our machines

faces drilled into the air
flutter through coffee shops
broadcasting something excruciatingly intangible
the graceful echoes of memory
hang in our rushing blood
like jagged stones
sticking out from a mighty waterfall

we hang from water
our bodies are precarious
made mostly from water
wearing foolish garments that mute our eyes
to keep this water that we are made of
from bursting out through them
pipes surge in the walls
to fill the cracks in conversations
blue hands reach out from rows of computers
to pull in oblivious eyes
somebody sneezes and passes out in a pathway of sunlight
on sheets streaked with charcoal
in an apartment floor crowded with dirty spoons
you want to jump through the glittering window
that flickering screen of unexplored planets
far past the clinking cafe tables
you want to jump out of humanity
into the screen of suns beyond your bed
you never do

something permanent got caught in the throat of the night sky
it coughed frantically drifting through supernova
shivering its coat of black paint off
in seething flecks
that proceeded into a harsh and perfect blue
as I sank my mouth into your hair
trying to bring an animal with eyes of mushrooming ink
out from the blank checkbook of your skin

the afternoon turned around on its many sharp heels
and stumbled into eternity

all the nights were a reel of film
that we couldn’t possibly keep our eyes open to watch

the hand-job under the traffic lights
giggling as the horns honked
plastic leaves fallen from park trees
rising to whirlwind above the surging chrome
orgasm swarmed by humming engines

the wine of communion
not strong enough

in a roadside hotel neon beneath the superior stars
crowded with the grey weeping of truck engines
a glowering boy makes love to a crazy girl
an angry saxophone
plays constantly in her bones

they both nurse a terrible silence

nobody on this planet
has ever spoken the right words

you want to walk into the garden of mute faces
that fidget like fresh roses in a fetid breeze
behind supermarket windows of tall waiting glass
and scream in the vacuum and abandon your body
you never do

(we all nurse a terrible silence)

a car horn honks pathetically making clustered angels laugh
beneath the immensity of the entire universe and all its orbits
election ballots are handed in
by people with very serious expressions
beneath a roof of fan blades
that hide and smooth the urgency of splintering galaxies
everything changes
nothing ever changes
you and I grab each other with ghostly hands and
whip ourselves into the woods
beside a suddenly halted highway
walls of ancient odors
cover us in their twitching blankets
our hair joins the odors of spores and moss
and grows feverishly toward infinity
outside the canned music of barbershops
bark curling on the living wood
and falling off onto the hollow ground
clean black beetles crawling with tentative legs
across our pale and fearless skin
draped in blankets of steam
that carry scents of extinct cities
above carpets of pine needles

remember how your desperate eyes ate
through post offices and restaurants
and the aching windows of airplanes
where you sat above fields of seething clouds
in the window seat
with one hundred strangers
basking in the light of your skin
that is God’s skin
sewed temporarily closed
trying to shatter the impermanence
and your weeping vision soared into the hindering mountains–
I tried to bring you back to the surface of earth
with tiny hands under a gasping ceiling
rubbing the temporal powder off your face

letting out the crimson skin from underneath
as the waves of oxygen shoved their way
through chalk moons and actively evolving galaxies
just to splash their exhausted path
across your dissolving and re-emerging features.

Luke Buckham is a prolific contributor to Spread.