The fall, drop, break
of peach white froth
sparkling translucent curtain
screening out sun
14 stories, three seconds
from bed to bed
deep into an unlabelled narrow chasm of the past
hypnotizes five visiting on-, through-, and over-
who, passing under the fall’s lip
behind the water
put out hands to touch
fondly recalling personal crises
Two taboo white birds skim the surface
Floating back upstream
Because even his mid-life crisis takes only frugal turns and it would never occur to him to pay extra for shipping, the violin arrives just when he forgets about it. The mailman doesn’t even bother to bring it to the door but leaves it instead with a perfunctory wave just inside the periphery of his front yard.
He has to dig it out from among the ferns and brings it inside while his children and a boy from next door are playing under the canopy of a giant pine tree, which some of his neighbors have been passive-aggressively nudging him to do something about lest it keel over and cause god-knows-what damage. But such are concerns of grown-ups with too much time on their hands. The children are engrossed in their game and don’t even ask him about his strange-shaped parcel.
The last time he touched a violin was when TVs still came with adjustable antennas and telephones had rotary dials. He doesn’t remember what that violin, with which he took lessons with a self-proclaimed maestro named Mr. Kreutzer for five years, cost, but his eBay violin cost just 38 dollars, including shipping. It’s a frightening sum considering that it traveled to his home all the way from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
Today we studied the ruins.
Your eyelashes were already a legend among the Byzantines.
Once, I believed you could read the stars,
perhaps even read your own mind.
Yet you can’t feel your own grave
rushing at you with its mouth open,
the branches of that place soaked in a green light,
the clenched teeth of the moon.
To you, I was always “Bob’s bastard,”
A reminder that someone touched her before you.
My body remembers your grease-stained, gnarled fists
smashing my pink flesh to bone.
My body remembers your steel-toed shoes
ploughing into my belly and back.
Sometimes mom begged you to stop.
Sometimes she sobbed, immobile.
Sometimes she looked away.
Though you’ve been dead for years,
You live here now.
Imprisoned in the body of the girl you despised.
Years ago—it was many lives ago—I worked nights in Manhattan. Some people call that grave shifting or paying dues. Others call it chasing the light.
To stay awake I used to buy coffee at Smilers, the deli on 7th Ave in the Village. Usually around 3 am.
Every night on a crate in front of Smilers sat an old black man. White hair, blind. I think he was mildly autistic. He rocked back and forth endlessly. Like Ray Charles caught in the groove. Next to the crate was a boom box, and a simple handwritten sign: Please. Continue reading
Often at night,
when the sky seems as close as it does now,
and the trees tense up
as if knowing the clouds will soon break,
and the light’s an eerie shade of gray,
You limp the way a stream
will soothe a single rock
and along the bottom
remembers this path
as darkness and dry leaves
though you don’t look down
–you hear it’s raining :the hush
not right now but at night
these cinders float to the surface
keep one foot swollen, the other
has so little and for a long time now
the listening in secret.