“He will pave you with ice” —Nostradamus
Index of first lines
1. That clover honey between your legs,
2. A recluse can escape the state
3. Against the makers of world-wide death,
4. A purple erection protruding from the curtains
5. How can moonlight mellow these newspaper stands,
6. Somewhere a ledge slides off an island, a wave
7. Maybe if someone believed in total reversal,
8. As the oceans yawn and mountains sag,
9. Out of a tiny void a leaf blossoms
10. Intricate apocalypse is wired into every human form–
11. Charles Mingus saved my life, headphones against the sound
12. A girl opens her legs, the local newspaper
13. A redeemer full of shit has come, he will freeze
14. They cut up the moon into advertising logos,
15. A man with a crown of leaves
16. Inside the President’s hollow head, a child burns their feet
17. The rain comes to join me
18. A crazed fat man muttering to himself about monsters
19. A man in a crumbling apartment looks out
20. The factory smokestacks prettier than young tits
1. Your most intense opening
That clover honey between your legs,
clowns in alleyways waiting for it,
spaces between treebranches seen
by little human dwarves lying in the snow
on their backs, tiny gravity, little grains
of rice stuck to the earth, all fly open
like a door kicked by police. You produced them,
squeezed them out through your waist,
your thighs, your hips, and finally through
your most intense opening. Now someone
with a microphone and lots of cash
wants to send them off to eternal warfare.
The numbers given them at birth
have come with knives to kill them.
Should you have hidden them in your attic?
Your basement? Your womb? A burning coffin?
2. A street to paradise
A recluse can escape the state
sometimes. A hermit can be safe
from worried friends, informers.
Everyone who wants a life of freedom
must live it mostly alone. Clover honey
between your legs calls children forth
from me who cannot live in this valley.
The new swords, extended into nation-razing blades
of flying fire, pave towns much like yours
with flattened debris, a street to paradise
for some, oblivion for others. And here
the dark children crying, here; unguarded windows
through which an ancient toddler’s face
with bleeding eyes stares solemnly
at a weeping soldier.
3. An arsenal of jokes
Against the makers of world-wide death,
a stroke of paint, a trumpet’s mournful blast
through ragged amplifier, an arsenal of jokes.
Hills ripple toward like ocean waves
a yellow outline around your frigid body–
on the ocean bright of green you float,
arrows of fire arcing toward you on the sky
like racing constellations, the orbits
casting off rings of red dust, every planet
on display. The dust from certain bombs
drifting in is an aphrodisiac, human forms
huddled together, humping for warmth.
This morning I licked concrete dust
out of my girlfriend’s eyelids as we limboed
under the arcing fire, the hills rolling
in a broken tumult. Now if children come
the dust will find them out and stop their growth,
our house of pills is willingly plowed under.
4. The man-shaped world
A purple erection protruding from the curtains
of a voting booth. An escape from obligation,
social security numbers riddled with bullet holes
wincing like eyes in every wall, bullet holes
become outlets for pleasure, oozing in the brick.
A populace insane for pleasure in these last hours,
the man-shaped world
receiving a blowjob on a crashing plane.
5. A highway juts into the sky
How can moonlight mellow these newspaper stands,
these broken bricks, these young bones leaking marrow
of bad thoughts on the salty pavement
as a highway juts into the sky, plunges into precipice,
an eighteen-wheeler truck that once moved the world
now a barren castle in the mild light?
How can the sidewalks be inviting under a hovering bomb?
A girl is reading a newspaper in the park–a bird dies
and plummets through the pages, leaving
a winged hole. She yelps in fright, stops reading news,
her life gets better.
6. The sea goes out like an excited woman’s breath
Somewhere a ledge slides off an island, a wave
two world trade centers tall heads for my home New England.
Old England is already obliterated. A bomb shook
this huge splinter of rock loose and moved the sea.
Two people walk on a desolate beach, the music of evacuation
fluttering dimly in the air as they turn toward each other
to make love standing up above the surf. The sea goes out
like an excited woman’s breath, surging off the drop-off ledge
like orgasm, the two turn toward a long bare beach
of glass-smooth sand, the skyscraper-size wave
comes moving in. They both wet themselves
a long moment before the ocean clears the coast.
7. I fear I am not that man
Maybe if someone believed in total reversal,
and had a spirit of great power, a prayer from them
could wrap the world in glowing cellophane
before our cataclysm. I fear I am not that man–
and try to believe that great spirit lives
in someone else, in an even smaller town.
8. Behind shattered constellations
As the oceans yawn and mountains sag,
as the bitter souls crowd supermarkets
for a last lunge at preservation, a star by day
stands out against the sky, glowing
over infinite parking lots, painted battlefields
and vacant baseball stadiums: a girl goes back in time
to leap in bed with me, our stove still works,
the sunset infected by bombs looks more
spectacular than before, and multitudes of crazed
musicians, sober in the aftermath, make melody
with raging discord in the broken parks, fountains
spouting rusty water sideways
under the bright morning star. We all bow to the ground,
a furnace mouth chews human beef
behind shattered constellations,
a tiny meteorite smashes a satellite’s face
to blind it for one much bigger.
9. Its broken dimensions
Out of a tiny void a leaf blossoms
from a wall of water, a branch reaches
from the aching gelid void
and makes rows of green fluttering children.
The old world whispers from behind
its broken dimensions, its active cities
burning to get out into the silent kingdom.
10. The clacking of grey wings
Intricate apocalypse is wired into every human form–
don’t look too close at me through cigar smoke
here in the dim orange light, perched on our stools;
if you turn and step into the crowd, it’s off a ledge.
The eyes blinking in the restaurant are pilot lights
for an oven burning races in its grip. A glitter
like broken glass under setting sun
winks at us on our little cliff, the bartender
has the extinction of the human species
under his wet counter. A rag full of chloroform
sweeps in his hand, polishing a wooden mirror
for our faces, placing us in Auschwitz.
The streets between tall buildings
fill with tasty locusts, street vendors catch them in baskets,
then the shipment buries them, a cemetary of their goods.
The wings packed into alleyways in multitude
slow their movement. The clacking of grey wings
and the little brown mouths screeching
at the crooked traffic halting with half-open doors.
We are locusts ourselves now,
a plague but without wings,
trapped between four walls.
Don’t look too close at your dozing girlfriend;
napalm eyeliner, a womb full of helicopter blades.
A fingernail floats dreamily through your tequila.
Don’t turn around to see them face-down in their food.
Don’t turn around to see your favorite bassist
impaled on his guitar. He made a few good notes
toward his end. That is all that’s asked.
All that was asked, his electric fingers gave.
11. The bloodied markets
Charles Mingus saved my life, headphones
against the sound of all the world avalanching.
His ghost ran through my streets
finger-painting on shop-windows steamed
with dying breaths. The bloodied markets
and roving mobs could not bother him
so far outside his body as he played
deep in my head, where a strange color
still makes noise.
12. I haven’t cut the lawn in months
A girl opens her legs, the local newspaper
closes its doors, unneeded. The world is blinded
by the purity of honest human gestures
in this house, a barracks set up against
its tides with music and painted doors.
I will not trim my hedges anymore, but let them
lace their long brown fingers over my entrances.
I haven’t cut the lawn in months, let crickets drown
all the reports of war, a tent of leaves hold a slug
with our trailing secret.
Do you know how I lasted through the end?
I hid in a basement making prayers in paint.
Do you know how I became stoic against
the rainstorm of fetuses? I held the brush
in my hand a little tighter, painted my dead love
from memory, and felt warmth for an extinguished race
glow from my bones, painting an archway
into a second earth, though none was left
to share the frame or model for me
in my dying hallways. Whether you lived
or died, you always burned.
13. He will freeze your groin
A redeemer full of shit has come, he will freeze
your groin, he will shut up your clinics, glue your eyes
and pull your bodies like taffy, boneless toward the brink,
until you shove him like a floating pillar
through the swirling seas
over the lunar edge
of his own oblivion. Those following him over the cliff
will tell you enthusiastically
that he’s a good man. If you believe them
you will be forced to share
in their horrible record collections.
14. Nuclear Christmas
They cut up the moon into advertising logos,
that was the last sign of the end. No poet
could look at the sky anymore without screaming
in pain. Oh Kelly, hold me beneath the fall
of billboard houses, house of cards
collapsing with their slogans.
That which cannot become immortal must fall
under the lash of a blade of grass.
The tired red globes circling, diverted meteorites
glow with nuclear Christmas, our new satellites,
eccentric menstrual cycles, a planet of crazed women;
I grow my red wings in the shade of a new cliff
after a volcanic summer. A prophet’s throat is secured
voiceless somewhere in the stone, nothing frozen in lava
aches to get out of its skin again.
15. A whore won’t lie until you give her money.
A man with a crown of leaves
won’t come out of the woods
when they bring him a woman to make him
one of their own. She says I’ll bring you back
to the gnashing cities between my legs;
a whore won’t lie until you give her money.
Leaves and shade his only currency,
she tells him the truth since he refuses.
He says My long beast of a thumbnail against
all your soldier’s throats, I will not come out ever.
He’s an astronomer but his lens is cracked and blurry–
he pretends the rivulets it makes in his longest sight
are the star-trails of flamboyant galaxies. She smirks
and says They’re waiting for your next prophecy
I never believed you were a prophet myself
But I bet you want what I’ve got and I know you won’t
Take it by force, they say you’re always
softer towards the women.
He says I’ve got a kettle of god’s breath
here in the woods, it evaporates
every time I take a step toward town. She says
let me have a drink myself I can see you’re not coming.
16. Running over the spine of things
Inside the President’s hollow head, a child burns their feet
as we all pile wood for the fire
under the golden calf of his dreams. A sky is rustling somewhere,
remembering good witches and their calloused fingers
running over the spine of things.
I watch hanging and beheadings on television,
while eating potato chips! A mouse scurrying
in the wall distracts me. If our violence
grows strong enough to push wholly through the earth,
then we’ll be safe from its backlash.
Otherwise our violence will return to us.
The ground under our feet holds us to our target.
A sky rustles somewhere and a maker of spells
cries with bitter joy as we all come to join her.
17. Looking over my own shoulder
The rain comes to join me
the trees grow to surround me and protect me
the earth rises to sleep with me
the buildings fall to make my ornaments
then the rain goes to join someone else
and that someone comes to join me on the earth
the sidewalks run like rivers toward Ocean National Bank
How can the twilight
make a beauty of all this corruption?
Is a streetlight
just a costly wildflower
or an abomination?
The blowing curtains of rain come to join me
as blood joins a puddle
that a child played in all afternoon
and in its curdling reflection
looking over my own shoulder I see a new world
18. Moves down Main Street like a dream
A crazed fat man muttering to himself about monsters
moves down Main Street like a dream
through shopfront windows.
A big catfish swims in the murk of his eyes
when he’s gone off medication.
Sometimes he paints the metal teeth
assaulting us, exorcises our nightmare onto a canvas
with car paint on scraps of junkyard metal.
Some suffer more for our evils.
The catfish smacks its rubber jaws
churns poison stingers to make paint
all autumn, extending into bristles through his arm
to save him from the murk of his mind.
Then turns and swims away
toward a deep December.
19. A good world the moment before he collapses
A man in a crumbling apartment looks out
his toothless window, and sees a good world
for the first time the moment before
he collapses in the smoke,
coughing out his life
a cat prowls on his windowsill
a long shard of plaster falls on him
and pins him to the floor he thinks It looks
like a good world out there he says Hi Cat
he strokes the cat with a bloody hand the cat
arches its spine and purrs
leaps out the window landing
nimbly on the sidewalk as the building falls
its tiny padded paws, so perfect
he wonders what it would be like to land like that
he hopes that death is a soft landing, like that
he lowers his head onto the dusty floor, chokes:
I’m sorry I didn’t treat you better, cat
20. My torn skies
The factory smokestacks prettier than young tits
in the false light, black smoke against the backdrop
of my torn skies, makes me yearn for a city
somewhere in my spirit.
The image is false but the urge is real. That is why
moonlight on Moloch makes such a stir in my hurt brain,
breaks my back toward making it a paradise;
Shoveling gravel with pictures within of glowing plateaus,
planting seed in the chocolate cake of seething tar.
But in my mind those glowing mountaintop farms:
and a woman wearing eternity’s clean face
walks through my rows of corn, topless in a white skirt,
barefoot and showing the growing bulge
of four month’s pregnancy,
and her belly with its navel turning inside-out
is the sky, and a brand-new moon.