Plain American Language

I cut a sliver/of WC William's finger
and placed it inside/my philosophy...

Friday, May 5, 2017

Untitled Short Story or Prose Poem?

"I've been thinking a lot about refusal. Take a baby, for example: a baby refuses to eat, or go to bed, my baby, for example, when she eats or refuses to go to bed, she sits and thumps something or says 'I don't want it' and the 'it' that she speaks of, this larger 'it,' refuses to give itself away to meaning--it could be dinner or bed or the bath or the shoe strewn on the chair next to her bed. And that thump. The thump and the sound and echo of the thump, caused by the refusal the hard wood of the table or flooring or chair to break or bend or even give an inch, rings in all of our ears. It's almost like--it's almost like there's a refusal in practically everything we do. Even an agreement is a refusal of something.

"Two hands meet in the air, pierce the space between, and meet, grasp, acquiesce to each other's presence, and shake. And for that moment, there is an acceptance of refusal: neither one will back away from the upward-downward motion, the quickness or slowness, a small social contract made sudden and true between two people. They push the air and make it move around them. They refuse to let that moment go undone. And in that agreement, they refuse all other options. They're one. For that twenty, thirty seconds or so.

"There are moments in a person's life when refusal is everything. Your teenage years. Early adulthood. Or now. Now is the best time to refuse. That refusal is the one true thing you've seen in your life. It defines you. People tell you, I've heard people tell me, that if you only live in the negation, then you'll live in comparison and contrasts all your life. You'll measure yourself with what you will not be, not what you will. But how can that be true if, when I walk, I am constantly refused? That's what physics is: things keep in motion until they've been refused by some other force. Forces so strong, you never knew they existed. People call them walls, but I know better. I am the sum of the refusals of forces. There's been a wind whipping at me since before I was born and it refuses me. People talk about it. They philosophize over it. But all it is is refusal. I don't shape myself by saying what I'm not. That's already been decided."

Don stood up from his chair and exited. His hands were dusted opal in the sun. Everything was a sharp breath in. And the first shot hit him square in the leg.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 7 (because no one needs to read Day 6's poem)

Thought Experiment

Delinquent dinner, pesto mozzarella. I believe I have gone to the edge of the film, the firmament and gone back. This is in prose only because it has to be. Because the hour, the slow molasses of the bulge of my eyes, digs into the rock of the brick house, the plaster moulding and the possibility of hornets in the bright day of sunlight coming. I have visited the time. I have been ill. I have rested and sat up late, like now, and weasled away a good enough try. Have you taken the pill yet? Has spring bottled its smile and then opened it like a fire cracker or a buzzing rocket? Where does the question mark lay when it tires of figuring itself in the air? I am almost certain it is too late. I am almost certain that, in the moment when the lily pad, like an outstretched calla lily, bursts into tears--and it will only do this because of the morning dew in combination with the pellets of water careening into it from above--the sun will wake up again and feel its right arm flex, then its left. And it will be spring again. And there won't be any sirens, any longer.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day 5

The Ground Round

Finally, in the effort and effrontery, in the wake of ceremony
and lack luster buster, thistle and thin, butt of the joke
pickled quick, tickly wind: lift up the mouth and freeze the thought
lock the effort in the colon: preface to the period,
a jocund moment—where is the flyer, where is the youth
of the mind, the minute difference between the infant
and the toddler, the spring magnolia and the flower-petaled
sidewalk—it is easily hide-able, a hyphen’d myth
the disappearance of it is inside the between-space, the figured
circle, the ouroborus of space and minutiae: have you seen
the figure of it standing on the snout of the rock in
the midst of thought—be bigger than thickness, round like
a boast at midmorning, fingering the tingle between finger
and thumb. I am gorgeous in the morning. I am a felt feeling.
I rub the patterns of the index and lines of excitement wave
frequently out of my mouth. I believe they are sentences.
I believe they have rounded the corners and gone into the world.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 3/4

Sound Poem (33)
Passover, Night 1

Platter as a sound: trussed and spooned, three
syllables of meats, vegetables: what would be pickled
what would carrots amount to at a single
notice. I am careful to ring my finger around
the glasses, design wings and floating careful
things that composite like jellied candies
this meal this laughter like a clarified soup
beautiful the smell of pleasure and
ruffling conversation: a choice of two kinds of kid
and the questions of a child, of a child
of a child, of a child: all of these are the rolling
clicks and clatters and the ones that hang
above waving at us and calling us justice.

Sound Poem (34)

Delivered again like the previous. This time faster. This time
I am searching for memories. This time pick
me up higher I am the child I am the wonder, fuller:
the crook of my arm the infant yawn sound
like the back of a chair parting the air behind.
What beyond this: the crinkling of body of face little
arm like new plant and almond skin
pin me to this one pin me to this thin wonder
something newer is to come. To feel her:
to breathe breath of expectation, lemon in water.
How like a tail this all feels. How like balance
in water: a ripple, once central, nothing single.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

30/30 2015: Day 1

Facing It
after Yusef Komunyaaka

I look into the bulge of my wife's belly:

there is no reflection, though there is one
inside: this pregnancy, this moon
with face and arms and kicking
in it, shifts me. I cannot
let it go: it shifts me. I turn--
I am contained. I turn once more--
still contained. I am flesh. Inside is flesh.
My wife brushes her hair back,
licks the tips of her mouth
and her eyes are stone fires, golden
brown. She is my teacher, she shows
me how to hold myself, to hold
the belly. How we hold each other
like leaf in wind. How we
need to clasp against the other
to prop us up when one
chooses to fall.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This is in Antonia Torres Aguero

Hay una falla en el centro
una fruta podrida al fondo del canasto
un rostro quemado por los agentes del horror
un rastro que supura bajo las vendas.

Hay un error en todo esto.
Una piedra en el engranaje
un mecanismo desaceitado.

Son objetos, cartas, llaves perdidas bajo la alfombra
basura, quebradas que esconden cuerpos bajo la cal.

No hay sagrado corazón que redima.
No hay oración que enmiende ni explique.

Hay un pinchazo por donde se cuela el aliento
un desastre por donde hace agua la embarcación.

Hay una grieta
una trizadura en el centro

Allí chorrea la comprensión
el alquitrán ardiente de la palabra

Monday, December 9, 2013

Love Poem to Hannah

Pie and your countenance on my birthday, your hand slightly bristling
from the contrast of cold inside the bathroom against the heat of your body temperature
after sitting next to an open oven for so long, listening
to the flames wrought and cinder and caress and singe and melt.
It is almost glistening to think of how you will look at me
after I take one bite, after I will taste the apple that you’ve baked for me
inside a crust so luscious with butter my stomach ache will sing gravely and loudly
of the benefits and drawbacks of sugar--it will be glorious: you
will be glorious. You with your simple hair that leans back and forth
when you tilt your head forward and back, kissing me with
the eyes of your tongue, that bright red lipstick I love,
you are my birthday present. The crescent of your laugh, the chatter you bring
to the table and the bedroom, a sudden and gentle touch
on my shoulder that bewilders then calms then huddles everything close.
Do you bring this much into the world as you give? Bake crusts
that envelope an apple like organ music? The hair on your sweater twists
and falls onto the carpet every single day. I’ve seen pieces of it twirl,

curls of butter on a hot pan called air. What other pieces of you can I steal for myself tomorrow?