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everything; something; nothing

The woman who ate her husband’s ashes. The woman who buried her husband alive. What is the difference between the two? None: death meant nothing to either—and neither did the husbands. Oh, what a shame, no? No. To go on and on, one mouth after another, is a survival tactic. It is a means of placing the thread through the eye of the needle despite the tremor. You understand, don’t you? It is highly unlikely that you have made it this far without once meeting inability. I meet her daily; she knocks on my door in the morning and leads me out of bed. We are still not friends. When we sit together, it is not out of choice— though it might seem like it. You, eavesdropper, must not listen to me so keenly. Life does not offer advice through the tongue of a stranger— I know, because I have tried, often and to no avail, to pry an answer out of a conversation I did not belong in. Well well; very well. It is our duty to make mistakes, and then our thin heart’s tendency to thrash its two hind legs hard into the soil and kick dirt over them. It propels us into further, into then. Bars of steel. Silence like acid rain. I am movement. Back or forth is only relative. I am fluid, unresisting. And so I topple over, with a nose so large, and stain the floor with my blood. I would complain about the pain, but first! Let us laugh at my folly. (Am I falling in love or building a cage?) The water shifts from cheek to cheek. I am thirsty; I cannot afford to gulp my bottle empty. How fickle-fine, how crease-line. In which way does memory travel— from my skin to yours, or otherwise? Silent reader, tell me. What can I do to paint myself into a pretty picture? I am far from. I sense you lift your brows at me. I am a child, though, so forgive me. I am blank, simply. A screen of white doused in oil: scenes spilling, slipping. Bars of steel. Silence like acid rain. The taste of erosion becomes the salt of our savoury. Take me in, will you? For now. / I need a pause before I continue.

Red— splotches, bruises— touch
like contraband— a poem, mid-
way, left stranded— then sold,
to a man from another country
where sentences are not ever
wholly spoken— he, who holds
my arm with a hungry grasp, is
green— a speck of blood on his
lap lands like ladybug on leaf—
we contrast in ways art cannot
appreciate— but, when the two
of us position the lengths of our
bodies against one another, one
can only gasp in the role of the
drug— the other, in the guise of
the thief— now, halt—
incomplete.

Now suppose, if we let the children skid across the frozen river, would the fish beneath the ice tremble? — if we caught the same fish in the summer, who would pick the eyeballs and suckle on them? — would they quiver too, from the memory of their own legs? // Now suppose, if you were to touch me that way.

Funeral whites
painted across our backs
as we lie
side by side
and play dead.

Oh, the dance we dance
so morbid
makes a
coffin of your bed;

it would be too much to
ask for you to stay a while, so
I place my mouth
over yours
and keep
a breath with me instead.

(— no matter how loud the dissonance is now,
at least we’ll rhyme the end.)

the President ran out of the room
to detach his hands and throw them away; this country

runs on unoiled cogs— They know, They know—
and They are tired too, but

who will listen? not God, who is
too busy trying to pay off the debt
he garnered when he
bought the largest of all lands, nor

the walls the borders are built with.

the President ran out of the room
to splash cold water on his face. we found him

shot,
a bullet in his chest

(and grease between
his toes).

I let my hands sink
into sacks of rice— large grains, small;
once, twice— at the stall,

come back with none
but the dust of white highlighting
the creases of my palms.

(All this in the bazaar of metaphors,
without which I am sitting now, stripped,
in front of a herd of lines
that do not stir as I touch them.

Do not ask me, now, why I refuse to write.
I no longer favor black over white.)

I open my eyes and let
the cold fin of time
run the memory of water
through me—

its blue so heavy and dim,
that I stand with my mouth hung loose
in awe
(and not because I am drowning.)

Let us sit awhile
and talk: of how the water once flowed

over our feet,
over and over,

and took none of us. We will

recall
on our small fingers, and

reteach
each other to each other.

how I stand inside this frame / how they flinch already

as the fuse nears its end— before
the blast

: hands clasped
about heads:

[a cube of panic tied tight with a string of premonition]

fzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

[uncalled for.]

blank— now

characteristic of

art (the way it stops
and starts
without any cautionary
red huts ;

the sound
of a fish slapped against
a tile)— now

characteristic of

I (the way
colors fold into one
another, unde-
fined ;

the border
of two mists, both
of the same
substance)— now

painted

on a wall alongside
innumerable
others: the pattern

only set
by the whims

and fancies

of accident. My apologies
to you
if you came here to
meet some sense!

Goal: to be just as much laughter as water.

Read: pilgrimage. Think: privilege.

theme