Take Me With You

I did not feel safe.
I ran like I was on fire.
Looking inward, I saw a pile of red sticks

I could not feel your blood beating.
I ran
I ran in circles
I ran wild
Looking inward, we were strangers

I was running.
I was crushed, red, and small.
Feel the back of my head
Where the cracks are 

Looking inward, I could only search 

————

We met once before —
Gramercy Park in ’94 — 
and then again in an elevator
of cockroaches and frozen dust 

Looking at you then,
blonde hair, a dark shirt and leather pants —
the tall bookcase
lit by wind and
piled with your cameras

Looking at you then,
Looking at you,
Looking at you,
I was lost

I saw your ghost
drinking Veuve Clicquot
and dancing
alone 

I went because I had to

————

We met again,
ten years ago in Berkeley.
I looked around and saw something like it,
but still I did not feel safe

I saw how you looked at me,
but only when we were alone
only when you were hurt
only when there was no door

When it appeared,
you would say “the light, the light, the light.”
There was something that you could see
that I didn’t understand

We loved our wine
We took the hard line
We tried to learn
We looked the part 

Your kitchen looks the same
Pictures of boys with guitars
and your grandmother
My teenage drafting table
Covered in your paints 
and brushes,
and water 

The light is in there 

————

Looking all around me now
Your light shows shapes unseen
You receive me in sixty-four thousand colors

I look inside, and
I see a secret starfield
I see the embers burning
I see bees’ bodies turning
I see the honey in its jar
I see a heart of jade 

Move slow, and turn
Let the low fire burn
I’ve seen enough to know
All the years have found their place 

I’ve got no leaving left
My shoes can go on without me
Take me with you

Peaks of Glass

I’ve been chasing
peaks of glass.

Sure of salt and sand
and any destination,
there’s still a shape
I’m searching for,
and I know I’ll have to stretch
to find it. 

Sitting in the dark,
eyes iced over,
gasping for time,
finding faces
just after waking—

That green-skinned junkie troll
who drags his foot
along the chain-link fence-box
over the roar of the highway—

A German dominatrix
from Martha’s Vineyard, a doctor
of the arts. Her photographs
were her evidence, her studio rooftop
where we fucked the New York lights—

An actor who shat out thirty pounds
from a case of giardia he caught in Oaxaca
while his dog chewed splinters
and the rain came
through the roof—

An orphan, wrapped in nothing
but the cold Venetian fog.
She went to bed with her brother,
just to get a taste of who she was—

I was always one step
from a brick in the face, a half pint
of Old Crow and a box of rocks,
blood on the asphalt
where my skull impacted
and I cracked it. 

Wet night streets, always wet.
the streetlight orbs radiating wet
sheets, each droplet lit in liquid
lines. Night trees dripping,
the bus shelter blown,
every hilltop thrashed.

That wet sky always smelled
of mystery and promise.
I could taste the night currents
whispering, but I didn’t spend my time
in discotheques or ham parlors.

Many others learned
to speak, but I did not.
My dream is just beginning. 

Stone, steel, and the weight
of water reflected in waves,
barnacles, kelp and wrack.
Six old pilings settled
into centuries of silt.
A stream dammed, digging sideways
through the sand. 

Some sounds are older than others.

I stood in the cold
waiting for the night boat,
the mistral howling holy fear
and hunger. The flat ground shifted
with the shriek of metal ship-sides,
lines straining on cleats,
horns, white lights, and klaxons.
A mountain slides by, turns
and then marches to the sea. 

Jackpots and Gunshots

When we first met,
there were only flames.
There was heat and light,
and that lovely sunset
shade of yellow-orange—
but up close—up close
the world is just one fire. 

One fire the train.
One fire the circus.
One fire the burning heart.
One fire—we should’ve known.
We should’ve known that iron road. 

Our small figures are blackened
coals glowing, fixed in their tracks
straight for the heart of the sun. 

Is this what we’re supposed to be doing?

Breakfast was diesel fuel
and black tobacco, the cries
of virgins writhing
in our ears, and we’re still hungry
for sin. A drink to forget
does nothing for the hunger. 

Our past tried to swear us to secrecy. 
Let those years drift
in their weight of sorrows. 
Let them forget 
themselves, and
let us forget forgetting. 

On that first night
there was a long table
set for us two little gnomes
and our many-hundred demons.
Each plate formed from the alluvium
of a century-storm drifted in deep
under the foundations, and then shattered
to shape for each guest. 

Here’s your fragment, your shard,
your mirror-edge, your warning.
Here’s your danger, your night service,
your thigh bruised purple.
Here’s your cold draft,
your warts, your swollen tongue,
your clumps of hair.
Here’s your plate—your history of plague. 

A dirty band of men played a jazz fugue
as the servers emerged from a mirrored cabin.
A girl hauled her mattress
with a chain, while another collected
tears in a jar like tacks. A woman lay languid
and raw in a coffin overflowing with honey. 

A nurse, falling out of her dress,
blood on her shins
from where she walked blind
into the thorns.
And our sister!
Somehow she escaped her prison,
chased by dog’s teeth across a yard of sticks
and bone, mud-soiled shoes,
jackpots and gunshots. 

Each woman carried a smoking jug
of mezcal and a whip,
turning and cracking at the sirens
in the distance, a hog turning on the spit. 

Finally one arrived and leaned
between us to make her offer.
In a hollow in her chest, carved
from the meat and circuitry,
the hydraulic hoses and close-fit tendons
left space for a side-scrolling sign.
Tiny white flowers fought at the edges,
and there in the corner was a key,
almost hidden by the sand. 

and then she was singing

So fucking cute. 

We stared at her tits,
thinking of what sick message
we could slip into her subconscious.
We kissed her neck and reached
to feel the weight of her flesh.
We saw her in black and white, stripped
and tied to a rail, high above the city. 

Is this what we were supposed to be doing? 

Wax pooled on the table
as the candles burnt down,
and then all the women were singing: 

Dear sweet man of mine
I think you’ve got me wrong
When I said that it was love
What I meant was cigarettes and wine… 

Now we’re breathing
together, and we leave the world
dreaming of dreaming, dreaming
of black coffee, dreaming
of bicycles—and then dreaming
of silence, dreaming of darkness,
and then,
only darkness.