LITTLE FLAWS

When we left the diner and walked into the night
I saw by the 24 hour neon light, the freckles on your arm
Mirrored a body of stars in the sky
I kept it to myself; I was overwhelmed
But in the morning light when I watched your sleeping body 
I came to comprehend

How we begin as a paste that builds into a base 
Over a short span in the pulsing world of a woman
That when fully realized - a slick, sobbing sculpture -
Will bloom little flaws that mimic the stars
And the belief that ours could exist some light years away, some light years apart
Is enough to make me feel faint
That this world brought me to you now and didn’t wait

Cause it’s all that I want to do, to love you
To witness together how buzzing we are 
How candied, how calcified
How mesmerizing, how small
To share in the cosmic joke 
To fall to a thousand floors and laugh til we’re sore 
To take out and sort through the strange things we do

Baby you've got little flaws just like me
You try to be hard but I know you're a softie
I thought you were tough up until you stopped me 
from plucking that tiny white flower from the earth
Honey I've got little flaws just like you
I'm stubborn and fresh and hot-headed too
When I missed six pitches in the batting cage
I threw my bat in a fit of rage
But it's all that I want to do

In the dark where we project Varda films on the wall
At the red light where we kiss beneath the golden arch
In the city square where we look through the scope at
Jupiter's glow
In Templehof Park where we
Tuck our jeans into our socks and move through the pastel pink fields of wheat
move through the pastel pink fields of wheat

Cause it's all that I want to do, to love you
to witness together how clumsy we are
how candied, how calcified
how mesmerizing, how small
to share in the cosmic joke
to fall to a thousand floors and laugh til we're sore
to take out and sort through the strange things we do

DEEP LOVE

I’m not convinced we should strive for midtown. I believe we should collectively neglect it, let the ivy and weeds grow over all get together in a few hundred years or so cause I’m not convinced that we should exist at all man, I didn’t ask for this so on a bad day I get bitter about it I am admitting a lack of gratitude I know…but when I look at that faded clipping of my mother fifteen years old on a bicycle smiling for the local paper looking like my sister I feel overgrown with that  deep deep love when I'm with my lover and she steps out of the shower and she’s tugging too hard on her snarled hair I ask her to come over and sit down on the bed I make a fist below the root and I loosen the grip of those knots without ripping another strand she takes the comb to kiss the open palm of my hand and I am tangled in that deep deep love when I walk by my neighbor and he’s on his front steps with his two scruffy dogs and he’s cooing their names his wife comes out to join him and they coo those names in unison they kiss those dirty little noses and I watch from the sidewalk as they live inside all that love passing by a pure scene in somebody else’s life gives my life meaning, passing through a good scene in somebody else’s life fills my cup it ignites that fire to pour out my love give all my love my deep deep love give all your love your love


EVEN IN THE TREMOR

We bathe in the blood moon in Berlin make out in cathedrals, Montreal to Madrid In Fallingwater brush our skin across the bed The Masaya volcano paints our faces in red Now the landscape in your eye is a desert of defeat I want to stay but I'll turn to leave
tonight we'll abandon all we share force a deep sleep and pretend we don't care I'd hate to put us up against yesterday...
I guess what can't be close must be far away. Cause the past will kill the present if I let it the past will kill the present if I let it the past will kill the present if I let it I dream in dripping colors of every ruin we'll never lose ourselves in
if I go on obsessing over coloring my memories with a more vibrant palette than existed singing, those saturated rains could never flood the imprint of One hand on the wheel, your other on my neck
moving me through moving me through moving me through if ever I forget how much love there is It's just I've become fixated on all of the love I'd miss cause the future kills the present if I let it
the future kills the present if I let it the future kills the present if Every head is a world, I don't want to be a destroyer of all things pure in my own When I'm running from a day yet to bare its teeth I see my only moment crumbling, crumbling If every head is a world I don't want to be a destroyer of all things pure in my own
when I'm crawling towards a night that I'm convinced was golden and glowing (even in the tremor I feel a stillness growing) It takes a conscious effort to hollow out this head
My brain is a constant rain on its own shelter but there's a parade in that dread there's a symphony swaying in the downpour and it plays me to sleep eventually each night into my morning
and I can't go on ignoring the tender heart in my chest and the splendor in its beating oh, the pain in possessing such a tenderness but what else is worth possessing? when even in the tremor I feel a stillness growing

UNTITLED SOUL


oh creator, won’t you soothe my tired soul 
it’s so afraid, it’s so all alone
I feel the fates weave my golden thread
golden and glowing one alone
all my gloom on the loom

oh lover, won’t you hold me in your hands 
I’m a little worried I am all that I have
I ache to be held, I want to be good 
I don’t want to die, I want to be understood
all my gloom all my doom


oh mama, won’t you decode my dream:
I took the baby from your arms to dry her little tears
and when I moved the hair out of her eyes I saw that she was me
and you cooed, 
“my oldest one, won’t you soothe your ancient soul—
it’s so afraid, it’s so all alone”


oh lover, won’t you hold me in your hands 
I’m a little worried I am all I have
I want to be good and I long to be loved
I want to live, can you understand?

I am fighting the villain inside of my head
it wants the crown it wants the title to my soul
I’ll be ripe for the rotting when I finally go
where there ain’t no more me left to console

oh my death, won’t you spare me today 
today I’ll feel the sun, today I’ll swim the lake
I’ll make something real, if today you let me wake

make something real
soothe my soul
take all my gloom
all that I have
soothe my soul


STRANGE MANEUVERS


A man holds a bible above his head
His blood rushes down with a shit eating grin
He’s only hoping to be noticed 
the teenagers buy berries on the corner
the juices drip down their middle fingers
They're just looking to be looked over
While I'm passing by the cathedral doors
It's gorgeous inside whether or not you’re reborn


waiting in the wings
wild thoughts are rabid things
The mind is thinking of itself
how stunning
the ripeness is rotting
the roughness is softening 
time is making strange maneuvers
the spectacle, so theatrical :
the person is fucking itself over and over
how incessant how unnerving, 
the shimmer of the heavens we are cursing


I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore
I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore
I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore
I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore


after wading all day in my kiddie-pool brain 
my last ditch is a ticket to a matinee 
but my attention span is too broke to pay—
I can’t stop replaying my mistakes over and over and over and over


waiting in the wings
wild thoughts are rabid things
The mind is thinking of itself
how stunning
the ripeness is rotting
the roughness is softening 
time is making strange maneuvers,
how incessant how unnerving, 
the shimmer of the heavens we are cursing


I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore 
I don’t want to be afraid of myself anymore


Kurt called in the early morning just to remind me I’m already alright
last night he read me a long list of words to occupy my mind
and it worked, Kurtie Bear — 
you bathed my brain like a baby in the sink
please stay with yourself the way you stayed with me


I know of the vibrant pain
when the pitch of your pining 
is vibrating your vein 
like an already taut string being tightened
but your mind is thinking of itself! - honey, isn’t that something else?


WITHOUT A NAME


I knew it was you by the broadness of your shoulders
Saw you walking down the road, facing away from me 
Just a couple years older
how strange to want to tell you everything and nothing all at once

Wouldn’t it be nice to be outside of time?
Flying kites deep into no night
Until no sun shines its light through everyone
Holy skin when heartbreak don’t have a place 
without a name for it

When we take our time
When we take our time
When we take our time
And throw it by the wayside
When we take our time
When we take our time
When we take our time
And throw it by the wayside

Wouldn’t it be grand to hold your hand
Out in the snow and not feel how cold it all is 
cause cold feels like a kiss without a name for it


YOUNG DISCIPLE


Aly, what is incessantly on your mind?

Well when I was five my mama told me that one day we’re all gonna die

of all places, it was in a fast food joint at night

it left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a knack for existential spinning out

How’d that come to pass you may ask, as the full moon seemed to leer and loom

Well on the stage of a church in a kiddie pool she and my dad were born again

I was an audience member beside my little sister and I didn't understand

They were my age then, the age that I am 

So I guess I get it better now...

The pangs of fear, the fear of being alone 

of dying young or growing old without realizing 

the purpose of your soul

 it was with a milkshake in her hand that my mama mentioned a second coming

that as believers we’d be lifted to a brilliant kingdom in the sky

Well I couldn’t fathom a place of light high above the desert night

but as an impassioned follower of my beautiful mother,

I put all my faith in her

You and I we both swing in and out of fear for the future

we lean into the sky looking for that answer 

I can see a romance in the reaching, and a tenderness in believing

but mama you didn’t inspire a heavenly desire

just an urge to hold my life a little tighter

just an urge to hold my life a little tighter


PRAYER OF LOVE


The sight of the calf being cleaned makes me weep
I weep at the sight of the calf being cleaned
And I worship the street from our balcony
I stare at the moon, I swear it's staring back at me
and I will build my life a sanctuary
to never neglect to bow before this sacred time

the prayer of true love is the size of the universe — 
I feel it contract like the heart of the calf
and then i feel it expand with your head in my hands
you can press the part you love into my palm when it comes on
and I would tell you how I love you but I won’t compete with the song

and I could never describe the heaven that I find in your eye
but I believe that I will rest there on the day that I die
so I will try to be kind to myself and to you and to my brother and my sisters and to strangers and my friends
now I leave you by the gate where the Scandinavian sky is a slab of pink meat and when you let go of me
that raw sun goes and gets itself lodged in my throat
and I choke down my tears but I can’t get no relief
for my heart leaves with you and I am left to carry this hollow body to a bed that ain’t mine 
(though apart from the relentless terrors I find that I sleep just fine)
I never hear a lick of what I say to myself
Even now I can tell I am not listening to me 
mmmmmmm
I wish that my words could be my nourishment
I’d like to take my own medicine past pouring up a glass of it
and I wish that you were here and that love could last
I’m not sure that it can’t, I just pray that it can
and that is really all, that is all there is yeah
baby you are all that i want all i really want yeah
this is all that i want all i really want yeah


JULY WAS MUNDANE


I miss the pungent sweetness of that firewood 
July was poignant and dripping, July was mundane 
Dipping my fingers off a lazy rowboat on the lake 
Your birthday girl someplace upstate 
Back when I was sure I was a misanthrope
Blaming my displeasures on the strangers laughing loudly in the woods 
She walked to the water to watch the fireworks
but I wouldn’t give myself the view -
I stayed in bed listening to them 
crack and bloom

I miss the pungent sweetness of that Woodford's reserve 
July was poignant and dripping, July was mundane 
Licking my fingers to get all of the icing from the cake
your birthday girl some place in Maine 
Back when I was sure I could win her over with my words
Holding the 'Portland Sun' above her in the summer storm 
I mostly made her up and fell in love with the construct 
And she could eventually tell so she wished me well
and as I gathered up my clothes another storm began to close
and crack and bloom

Even inside my hands it hurts to claim the confused, wounded little animal I’ve been
baby I’m devastated for all my trying to change you trying to make you
the same sorry little animal I’ve been
It’s a feat to forgive me

Am I meant to understand my own head, 
As I take it from my neck and I begin to deflate it?
am I meant to understand my own heart
as it sings my praises all day long and I evade it?
am I meant to understand my own body
as I go out walking in an attempt to escape it?
am I meant to understand my own soul
as I envy it floating high above me?
 
and I wonder who will tend my own love if not me
If I grow it in the lilies just to ditch it in the weeds
I wonder who could save my own world if not me
In my morning where I bring it into being 
I wonder who could save my own world if not me?


OH MY VIOLENCE


I used to believe I needed to be torn in two, reached inside of by you 
to be put back together better than myself
Do I need to have a gnaw on the cud of my heart
When I pine for my own love 
and I can’t seem to warm up to myself?
I get lost in the losing

I get lost

in the television where a sermon lurches toward me like a semi swerving 
what’s worse, the pastor is cursing under his breath— 
he can’t find the passage to back up the argument he is having with himself
and I see a page in his bible rip clean out 
as I drift off to sleep staring through the mountains in the motel painting
and my dream leaves itself with me:
I am falling from the peak but instead of you, I'm calling out to me

I get lost in the losing

I get lost

In my waking life where I can’t wrench me from my mind
clear enough to wrench you from it too
in an attempt to step back into myself without bringing you

...If I could see today in all its glory, I believe I would be humbled
but the past it has such charisma, I feel it catching up
and I better run so I don’t get lost

In that scene where I cursed you on the street
and you returned it to me with a look so kind
it’s impossible to describe beyond this perplexed mention
I bow my head in disbelief at how loaded of a lesson.

now there is no greater challenge than taming my violence
living with it long enough to rid it
in the lake of pure intention, in the wilderness of forgiveness
I'll show it compassion
I’ll pull it to me til we both fall asleep

EMILY


There’s a picture that I found

My first car in the falling snow

Seems like yesterday I drove down into low tide

And Isaac snapped a polaroid of me pretending I was sinking

pressed against the glass, pleading

I misplaced it but I’m looking


When we are young, if only we could see beyond our fears where we are free

when we are lonely, if only we could know that in our stillness we are growing


All the portraits we collected

while we were running around in the desert

we were trying to seem fulfilled

to rewrite our New York City Narratives

but Emily, we were utterly dejected

we took turns crying on the passenger side of America,

too clouded to be empowered by towering redwoods

when did we lose the ancient truths?

Is it what we’re born bending our bodies towards?

how can we spend our lives searching outside of ourselves for the inner knowledge of our oneness with the world?

Shervin, remember when my car finally quit? we’d drag our dirty clothes after dark to Lavanderia and wander Graham Ave. obsessing over singers we love I thought I was so alone but now I know I never was

You’ve always been the Jenny to my Watson Twins

Can’t land the harmony but we’ll keep singing it

No photographic artifact but here is something better than that


When we are young, if only we could see beyond our fears where we are free

When we are lonely, if only we could know that in our stillness we are still growing

(Emily, if only we could see that we are free, oh Emily, if only we could know that we are still growing)



HEAVEN BENT

I will protect your solitude - keep first watch over our expanse fast asleep you can fall in the balcony of Masonic Hall to the sound of chainsaws dancing let go your head - I got itI am baptized behind the lights all alone - heaven bent to hell. heaven-herself — the tender warrior I believe she sent for us when she  saw we were trying our best trying to be good trying to be kind, trying to stay true try, I just want to do right by you pale blue eyes warm red light Olympia 1865 the brilliant life of a fly let go your head I got it now you are the blood in my song see me spill over when it’s sung will I spill all over everyone when you’re gone? oh god. My blood will fill the ditch My blood will bury the mountain But for now it sits still in my mouth just waiting on the tip of my tongue  


ATALAIA

Leah I got your letter I was too afraid to tell you I was too afraid to speak one word or another  but in my mind’s eye I’m still reading over your shoulder on Lake Michigan are we twenty-seven? Leah I got your letter


SALT

See all the loners spinning towards the heavens the steeplechasers got us looking for the moon and in this heaven the horror of its absence has me trembling beside myself beside you when tears stained my cheeks you kissed all but the salt I suppose you didn’t see —I can’t fault you for that; when your tongue licked the lash all the salt had seeped through  and you would not believe I’d been crying over you some days I’m afraid I’m already mourning already mourning you some nights I’m convinced I’m already dead. in your arms I understand all at once my life has been building me up to us in your hands I am mine, you take me to myself the tenses I knew now they bring me to you . I am yours I am yours you are my own one kiss sucks the mud clear from my soul the neon lights that fill your eye above coney island I could die tonight if I’m not already dead, already mourning when tears stained my cheeks you kissed all but the salt when your tongue licked the lash all the salt had seeped through - am I already mourning you?


SEE YOU

have we fucked ourselves over? making our worlds so close  your skin to my bone have I fucked myself over? making my chaos calm your pennies in my palm have we fucked ourselves over? making our world so right overnight. if I see you when I look in my own eyes how could I ever despise myself again? (have I fucked myself over?) my bones to your skin


TANGLES

time takes the years from out of our hides wait for the belt with bated breath and the bait on the line finds a fish in the sea your teeth take the cake and feed it to me. I heard from a little bird that you crushed its mama’s bones please look me in my face don’t you be disgraceful oh lord, oh please say, say it ain’t so for I’m immune I’m immune to no one love is a luxury that I can’t quite afford I call it by name and you know it just walks out my door maybe I shouldn’t hold it so tightly anymore. your smoke builds a plume how it stifles my perfume and the paint on the walls of your room makes for a pretty, makes for a pretty little June and I never want to see you I never want to see you again but I long to see you soon for a heart can be as stark and sad as a single laugh in a funeral parlor and my argument is as senseless as picking up pennies from the snow and loneliness she can be a whore I take her to bed—I’m so sure she won’t be there in the morning oh lord what more could we be for than the bangles on your wrist? oh lord what more could we be for than the tangles in your hair? look me in my face don’t you be a disgrace oh lord, please say it ain’t so what more could we be for than the change clanging in your pockets? the pennies falling from your hand into the snow the pennies falling from your hand into the snow


WE ARE NOBODY ELSE

I know I butchered our Exquisite Corpse -your lines were tender and mine were morbid. I was just nervous that you would not be kind so I poured blood on the knife we trade off being so terrified Let's find some bravery baby, and lay down the knives I love you - and I wanna go on loving you There's nothing holier than the laughter of our friends There's nothing more I need, I have everything I’ve got the gold in your hair the sun in your hair  and my hands in your hair night into day who gifted us this fate? the glory of god, the wrath of god both make me afraid! then relief floods my brain like a biblical rain that we are ourselves - we are nobody else and we are making out in the woods behind Brandenburg Gate while the sirens fade I nearly know not what to do I am myself and you are you  I nearly know not what to do when you see me seeing you Frankie, I will read to you from Salter in the park while you illustrate your day for us Frankie, I will read to you from Salter in the park There's nothing lovelier than your laughter, my friend and there is nothing left I need, I have everything I’ve got all the love that I have ever known and the love is for you and the love is growing I will praise this life for all my time's too heavenly to not build it a sanctuary to praise this life who gifted us this fate? the good glory of god the great wrath of god the gold heart of god the true love of god the blue blood of god the warm breath of god

                                               

  CRATER LAKE

let’s be one another’s present tense we’ll go to the mountain by the lake we’ll undress we’ll swim and we’ll swim until the sun settles to sleep we’ll build us a fire of a flame so deep in the morning we’ll rise where the world moves on we’ll take to the badlands and we’ll sing us this song it runs through us this movement it fills us with sun see that tree I will climb it I will pick you a plum see that tree I will climb it I will pick you a plum

VENA CAVA  

The vena cava the most superior, the queen. Bringing blood into the chamber, always into the chamber. And in you it moves the same, even if you can not feel how it moves- it does move there in you. I'm Awake but I cannot be found, daydreaming so far down. In your arms I sleep so deeply but I can feel how you will leave me even as you are still sitting here, even as your mug of coffee steams. I can feel how the seams of your ribs will separate from the seams of my ribs; I know already how much TV will fail to comfort me in your absence. It's as though the nothing never was as everything will do just what it does. Like a bullet in the barrel of a gun, I'm hiding here inside for someone, someone. In your eyes streaks of canary yellow. In that twin bed I lay straight and narrow in your room on Long Island I tried to keep myself from sighing. While the lilt of your language it made me think that I was sinking with the wreckage of that old ship. Even though our love has long been dead, its ghosts will follow to the foot of my deathbed. I ain't no brother I ain't no son. There ain't no Aubergine in my blood. I ain't no warrior or king but how I am one when I sing, when I sing sing sing. While the vena cava - the most superior, the queen is bringing blood into the chamber always into your chamber.

 

BILLIONS OF EYES

When gravity's a palm pushing down on your head like the devil's got a paw dug in your shoulder and the other one is rubbing your back. But the kitchen in the new place has a window , yeah you can grow basil on the sill - maybe you can call your neighbors by name now. Berries on the dash is the sweetest kind of living still this feels like eating the meat of the mountain. It's all grit and gristle i can't chew and swallow, I'm gnawing my way back home. The clouds look a lot like wool gone through the wash. I check my phone for the time but I still wear my watch. I’m confused about how i’m supposed to connect to anything now. The kind of high I like is when I barely make the train and the people with a seat smile big at me because they know the feeling and for a millisecond we share a look like a family does, like we have inside jokes, like we could call each other by little nicknames. And I could tell the story of how my great grandmothers' sister was deemed a saint, how they exhumed her body after years of being buried and they found she hadn't even begun to sully so they moved her again, straight into the Vatican. I think of all the billions of eyes all looking at something different at the same time and I feel nauseous. Some days i can only see into my suitcase. It's got everything I need plus some superstitious things I may also need. "Music soothes the savage beast" the pilot says to me and he asks me to sing but now is not the time. I just want to fall into a pile of warm laundry. I just wanna keep very very quiet, yeah. It’s June where you sleep, July where I land. Thought I saw you on the platform in Amsterdam and I nearly missed my train and I felt so defeated til I jumped on to see all the warm smiles were for me. I made my train and it made me so happy. I made my train and it made me forget everything. It made me forget, made me forget made me forget made me forget everything it made me forget made me forget made me forget made me forget made me forget everything.

 

VIOLET CLEMENTINE

You build a nest of yellow yarn, you hope to god the yellowed yard is soft enough to break your fall should you fall, should you fall. Blood is let and tears are kept in hollow chests while sweat's ignored however spent, our tears are sweat just kept secret and strewn from pores. Keep your silence golden and words important, you're only a handsome animal. Keep your silence golden and words important, you're only a handsome animal.

 

HERETIC

Heretic, spit out your gum and bite your tongue - you're gonna eat your words you're gonna finish your milk, you're gonna drop your gun. Heretic, when you show us your notes and you stroke your chin you think you're up that you were tagged and you're it, you think you've already won. But the sun is burning a hole in your head, the sun is burning a hole in your head. You should stay in the shade, Copernicus cause the sun is burning a hole in your head. Heretic, hysterical and ill-equipped historically to cope with what you say you see through your scope. Heretic, what you know about the stars we don't care a bit cause we know in our hearts we are the only ones we are the favorite. And we don't care what you see in the sky, no we don't care what you see in the sky. Galileo Galilee Galilae Galeli we don't care what you see in the sky. Heretic, this is not just house arrest. Don't spend the rest of your life taking back, taking back what you said. Cause you and I are concentric- let's learn about black holes, unplug the television set. Let's ponder the true builders of the pyramids and then let's order in. Cause I know it ain't no lie I know it ain't no lie. We both saw the lights. If you're a heretic then so am I. If you're a heretic then so am I.

 

SUNDAY SHOES

You scuffed your sunday shoes when you leapt the fence to chase the wolves from your baby sister who was eating dirt in the flowerbed near the house where your mother hung her head and wept for the lord to fill her up like buttermilk pancakes at sunday brunch. The town was swept away in oceans of praise  with talk about how we're headed home and how we'll all be held in the arms of the most selfless love and the good that we have all done is already written down and we shall all become a phenomenon. You scuffed your sunday shoes when you leapt the fence to save your sister from those hungry wolves but you fell the wrong way yeah you broke your leg and now the animals are turning their heads they're turning- no now they're turning back they're turning back. To take you to their den and lick your bones, to take you down to their home and kiss all on your bones but don't be afraid to go with them, don't be afraid to be carried home. The sky, it will open it up it will swallow you whole but don't worry my love, it will feel so nice on your soul, so nice on your soul. You will be laid to rest by gentle hands and you will be sorely missed by your mother and your father and you will become your most favorite color. And like the dinosaurs, discovered and laid to rest, like the dinosaurs puzzled over and laid to rest. Like the dinosaurs pieced back together and laid to rest so don't you fret for your baby sister now.

 

SPAT OUT SPIT

Now I'm sitting on the train  and I am peeling an orange. I glance over nonchalantly at a woman, she is yawning and though this sight is common, I am abruptly mesmerized and it strikes me in this moment for the first time in my life how strange we all are,  animal hearts pumping that  animal, animal blood. Was I born wild? Have I been asleep  this whole damn time dreaming up a life? Will I awake to find that i'm deep in the woods and i'm snarling on all fours? I could be cracked open like a cartoon watermelon. Then you would see the solar system suspended in me. It's the same one in you that pulses and spins. We're just made of flecks of the heaven's spat out spit. We are filled with the gore from long before and I'm through starting wars to make you see me a warrior. Some ancient answers have since been unearthed, still all these abandoned buildings they had to get built and who were these architects who left their work? I left my body in the bed but my head floated through the ceiling. Was I born wild? Have I been asleep this whole damn time dreaming up a life? Will I awake to find that I'm deep in the woods and i'm snarling on all fours?

 

PENNY LICKS

Maybe when we are gone, you can have our bedrooms as your own. And we can't seem to find a stable table so we'll just take our eggs and we'll be on our way and when we pay your toll, you should pay us a compliment like, 'you have lovely eyes' or 'your bone structure is quite exquisite.' We will crane our necks we do not wish to make a baby we will crane our necks we were not built to raise this city up we will crane our necks we do not wish to start a family we will crane our necks we were not made to build this city up we will crane our necks.

 

DEAR ARKANSAS DAUGHTER

Take a swim in the water, take a swim in the water dear Arkansas daughter. You with the dark curls, you with the watercolor eyes. You who bares all your teeth in every smile. He says, 'I can always hear you sing, I wanna hear you speak to me' while a stranger braids my hair back out on the street. And in your dreams we are shooting at snakes and while you were asleep I was surely awake. I was talking at a cigarette with nothing left to say but he should of been there any way for I didn't sing a single song all day. As my love for you dies, as my love for you dies as my love for you is steadily dying as sharp and serious as a pistol in the eye. My blood is full of swords, full of swords. Your heart it knows the lord. Tie my hands and I knock my knees as I kneel down, kneel down in the sea. To the ocean floor I will sink like a steel chest full of weapons. On the spine of the tide you will rise like a red ripe, a red ripe apple. Take a swim in the dirty water dear Arkansas daughter. Take a swim in the dirty water darling child, true love of mine. As my love for you dies, as my love for you is steadily dying darling child, true love of mine. Darling child, true love of mine true love of mine.

 

MILK DUDS

I am an old song that you once knew - you can't remember me for the life of you and now they're singing you verses that are new and you are longing for just to hear that chorus. We fell asleep on a box of milk duds; they melted into the clubhouse cushions. I'd never loved another person more than I loved you when I awoke that morning. You can try to relax or plan your attack when you get back to Brooklyn, get back to Brooklyn. You can close your eyes for a moment at a time but in the dark they stay open, always stay open. My spine gets the most sun when i'm not lying on my back with my brains dripping down into the palm of my hand. I'm always misplacing my wandering mind- it takes the metro it's never on time and now i'm trying to remember how to climb the stairs, how to tie my shoes and how to braid my hair. I can't recall my own name or even why I care. I wish the clouds'd make up their mind so I could make up mine now. We fell asleep on a box of milk duds; they melted into the clubhouse cushions. I'd never loved another person more than I loved you more than I loved you. Now I'm an old song that you once knew. You can't remember me for the life of you but I hope you find joy in all the things you do and in these songs we sing that are sung solely for you.

 

TEN

so easily I forgot lifting the sandbox in Arizona and catching the geckos and keeping them as pets in a halloween candy's jack-o-lantern. Their tails would fall clear from their bodies and we'd shriek and we'd run from them. Keep on playing, playing. My sister she is with me even when we are apart. We were wading through the water, flashlights flickering in the dark. Climbing the laundry post in the tomato garden, spying on the neighbors swimming. Laughing laughing, that night in Maine I met my best friend, talking til 7am realizing we were both afraid of the notion of having our brains be in the body of a whale in the ocean deep where the light don't reach and I loved him instantly. I knew we would keep talking talking, on that drive up the winding mountain roads from Hudson to Vermont in the season's first snow. The boys asleep in the back of the car- we were in the front we were singing along to every word of the songs that helped make us who we are at the top of our lungs singing singing, my mother, my mother she keeps a journal of her childhood memories as they return. My favorite's the story recounting when she saw an eagle with a fish in its mouth. She was ten and she wrote it down. There's a sweetness in us that lives long past the dust on our eyes once our eyes finally close.

 

BATTER

I took my last breath as the plane crashed. I don't even think that I got to let it out. And I don't know if you noticed, I don't know if you noticed yet but there's a drought around these parts. There's no water in the well. The dry spell the dry spell. Don't let your demons take you to the cleaners. Fix your posture while you call your mother. Draw a picture- it lasts longer. A body's sacred when it's naked so go ahead and let it be a bible for another. Blood's your compass, let it wander. May it stick thick like a slaughter. Halle Halle Hallelujah. Now I return to my first purpose, a sharp breath exhaled beneath the surface where lungs collapse like demolition and the pulse ceases to quicken til I become as sweet as nothing, I am nothing now, just nothing now I am nothing now nothing now nothing now nothing I am nothing. From the plane I called your name  but it didn't matter: You were home baking a birthday cake, cracking an egg  into the batter.  You had a little bit of batter, a little bit of batter on your face.

 

ATLAS

Funny how a good thing opens your eyes, makes you feel the branches, leads you to the pines. Funny still how infatuation shuts you all up as it makes you a dead beat son of a gun. Honey, but I do know where I come from; I got a key to this chest. Honey but I do know where I end up; I got a body for this bed and I undress like eyes upon an atlas. Shotgun orchestra, the needle bends as it spins. And we got skin like we were born to swim past our scalps in it. And I do, I want to swim the length of this with you. I want to swim the length of,  swim the length of, swim the length of this life with you. I'll undress like eyes upon an atlas. I'll make you a map to me, I'll be there in your sights. I won't make me hard to find. I'll be made into a mark  with a heart steadied and strong; a readied aim for your arrow, my darlin. I know where I come from.

 

HAIR TO THE FERRIS WHEEL

Take me by the arm to the altar, take me by the collar to the cliff, take me by the waist to the water, take me by the hair to the ferris wheel, take me by the wrist to the river, take me by the braid down to my grave. Love is selfish, love goes tic-toc-tic, love knows jesus, apples & oranges. It's a zoo in your room when you part your lips & you long to kiss like you won't exist come the morning time, come the sunrise. & all I'd like to do this afternoon is to drag the mattress up to the roof: hushed tones in the ears of the airplane next to you. Let's crawl all over one another likes crows on a carcass, like ants on a crumb starving only starving only for the taste of tongues. Love is selfish, love goes tic-toc-tic, loves knows jesus, apples and oranges. Take me by the arm to the altar, take me by the collar to the cliff, take me by the waist to the water, take me by the hair to the ferris wheel, take me by the wrist to the river, take me by the braid down to my grave.

 

 AUBERGINE

Well I bled blue blood from my back last night, I was alone. Aubergine sheets on my bed now, oh no. & your blue eyes lie just like an atlas in those sockets, yeah your blue eyes cry mapwater when you're sorry, oh so sorry. You with the nape that holds my gaze, you with the tongue that speaks my name, you with the arms that keep me at length, you with the heart that won't show its face. & jesus sucks the mud out of your soul, but the flame in my eye, it's gone blue & cold & you risked your wrist to save my life & I should have kissed you that night but it ain't right, oh no. Absence makes my heart grow hollow, absence makes my heart grow hollow make me into an egg without yolk, you make me into an egg without yolk. Absence makes my heart grow hollow, absence makes my heart grow hollow, make me into an egg without yolk, you make me into an egg without yolk. I was unborn when I was younger, I was unborn when I was younger but I was rebuilt when you spoke, I awoke when you spoke. You said, "There's always a reason for leaving, there's always a reason to stay; I know exactly why I'm leaving: I just can't stay." & I say, "I'll give you my whole summer when you unfurl your fingers. I would be lying if I said you had nothing to do with me; you're to blame for my being this way, this way." You with the nape that holds my gaze, you with the tongue that speaks my name, you with the arms that keep me at length, you with the heart that won't show its face.

 

FLORENCE BERLIN

You are my grandfather's son & for that reason I need you nearer & on my insides I am haggard & on some insides there are vultures. If they begin to ravage your love don't cower or run for cover. Don't feel bad, you've got to drown or smother them. & I can't say whether I believe hearts are cultured. Can't say whether I care or whether it matters. Maybe hearts are better bitter, battered, filthy, vulgar. Maybe that's why the broken lonely ones hold on a little longer. But all I know, all I know is I want to see you I want to see you see all those countries. Maybe I'm my own mother & I will always take care of my brother, but you are my family now too. How I loved you then & how I will & how I do.

 

BIRD BALLOONS

I'm a ghost & you all know it. I'm singing songs & I ain't slowing. It was a fragile thing & I goddamn dropped it. I picked the pieces up & put them in my pocket. & I ain't gonna try to win your heart this time. I've had space to think & I think that I've grown a little wiser. I'm looking for a new muse you have only made me tired. Call your bluff up on the telephone & jam-jar my blood. This is my loss of limb, my loss of love. Call your bluff up on the telephone & jam-jar my blood. This is my loss of limb, my loss of love. It was so cold you could see both sets of ribs almost escaping your skin to fly south, south until the springtime. Your hips stood out like confidence, you were naked as a newborn in the snow but you wanted it so, that's precisely how you wanted it & now your love is writing words on the wall with the meat of a nectarine that she picked earlier that morning in the orchard & you are on the street, a chest of drawers free while the skeleton parade marches past you carrying bird balloons. They fly backwards and forwards. The streets can be eerie, streets can be dreary. It's as if leprosy landed on the moon & it cast a filthy glow in the world & in my room, it's as if leprosy it landed on the moon & it cast a filthy glow in the world & in my room so how about I play the harp & you play that piano. Pull the curtains shut & nest like little sparrows. My limbs, my love are lost on you. My limbs, my love belong to you. I remember that night in the woods on the hidden balance beam made of a long wooden board with a barrel underneath. We laid on either end & we couldn't quite knack it after many attempts & minutes of silence until we did. & our breath caught. & we looked up. & the stars they were so still, the stars they were so still. Both our hearts they were revealed. Our hearts they were revealed. & you were my friend. You were my friend. This is my loss of love my loss of limb this is my loss of love my loss of limb. But now I'm a ghost and you all know it. I'm singing songs & I ain't stopping. My hair grew long so I fucking cut it & when you looked away I stuck those trimmings in your locket, haha.

REGARDING ASCENDING THE STAIRS

I cannot think of that song with this music on & I never want to go back to Arkansas even if you've gone from there, even if you've gone. You handled me like an infant skull & I cradled you like a newborn nightmare & I always long, long to go back there: straight back down the hallway & up the stairs to that bed. I asked the deer could the hunter she hear come a'creepin, creepin, creepin, creepin. I whispered in her ear so sweet & sincere but she was already dead asleep & the ground where she lay was red, sour & stained & I kissed her, kissed her, kissed her before I turned away & I never want to go back there: down the path to the place where she lay. We can close our eyes & cry out to the darkness, that there is still this light in us, there is this fight to find right where we belong. This ribcage, it is a staircase, climb it to my iris you can live there, you know who I am. You know who I am. I am your apple. So open up the book & read to me your favorite passage & know that I will be right here & I will listen. I hear you & I have heard you for one thousand years.

YOU ARE THE APPLE

You loved me best in an airplane; I slept the length of The Atlantic. When I awoke, we had landed. For days on end I've thought about it. Had we crashed into the ocean. Had we perished in the sea. Had the mountain held us captive in his jacket, well God forbid, I would have been fine with that. Cause it would have saved me it would have saved me it would have saved me from the look that you gave when you left. Your lips so full that I could cry. Your lips so full that I could cry out my sockets, cry out my sockets. Your eyes so closed that I could hide in the closet, hide in the closet. My heart so poor that I could wait for your hands in my pockets. My heart so broke that I could beg for affection, beg for affection. I only have eyes for you; you are the apple, you are the apple. The alligators are here they're just under the water, under the water. You devoured my heart, you devoured my heart like it was strawberry cake at a birthday celebration, but I still need your love. I still need your love, I need your love. I still need your teeth round my organs, I still need your teeth round my organs. I still need your love for you are the apple, you are the apple.

 

MEZZANINE

There's a ghost, ghost in the mezzanine & she's soaked, soaked in a glimmering sort of bone, her bones & I'm blathering for to count all her freckles to kiss her bare ankles, the breath of the bread while it bakes. How I ache, I ache in the pit of me, I awake, awake with this fear in me. How it makes, makes a fool out of me; with its knife how it carves the seeds out of my heart for to plant in the soul for to feast. You are sweet, sweet as a nectarine when you speak, speak softly & gracefully; oh to meet you could quite possibly be the death of my dread & the songs in my head would at last find their place and be sung.

 

LITTLE BROTHER

I'm not sure how these marks came to be on my heart; in your bed as I slept, with the devil had a brawl. When I awoke, prayed to god it had been but a draw. Oh my, what more of a mess I will be if I've lost. Now I dream of the sky running towards me, liquid like an ocean. My little brother is there & I carry him like a newborn. It seems I'm always lifting him to escape from rabid beasts and storms. Behind my eyelids he is light, he's the weight ofa quarter but in daylight he is broad and older. Oh lord, call me back, back to you. I will come. Seal my soul like an envelope, use your spit, lick it shut. Bring your knives, use your tools, perform open heart. The water is scalding, so cold that it burns. But when I lay in your likeness, how you slay all my hurt, all my hurt.

 

CRANE YOUR NECK

I pressed my ear against your back not even a week after we met & I felt your heartbeat fall like raindrops in a bucket. I used to have a pretty nice spine but I neglected to give it a name so each time I tried to straighten it, I couldn't get its attention & I placed my palm upon your collarbone & I wished to fall asleep deep in your marrow. As gently as a mouse curled up in a ball, as gently as a mouse until tomorrow. We ripped off all our clothes & this included all our jewelry & we ran hand in hand back when you brought out the beast in me, the parts that are dormant I wish to set them free & in the clarity of this night I make myself believe I can sleep easily alone. But there's a hunger under my skin & its gripping at my bones. There's a hunger like a lion's & its ripping right through my bones. So I push my limbs all forward like a tree does in a storm & I walk into my kitchen & I lean against the window, I'm as calm as a baby lamb that is being led. I'm as blue as blood before the blood goes red. & how it hurts even in the sun, it's a goddamn joke how we can hurt even in the sun. For a heart beats the best in a bed beside the one that it loves. Yes a heart beats the best when in a head death becomes irrelevant. Cause if you're dreaming about dying then you're not really living, darling. You've got to be starving, you've got to be starving for it & if you're crying by the moon, in the sun you better lift up that chin. Twist your hips & crane your neck. Twist your hips & crane your neck. Twist your hips & crane your neck. Twist your hips & bend your body back. You've got to be starving for it, you've got to be starving for it, you've got to be starving, you've got to be starving for it.

 

ROOFTOP

If I'm the cop then you're the robber. We'll play cowboys & indians in the yard for the slaughter. I had a dream you'd be on this rooftop. If you're not then that's okay but if you are, well I'm thinking that it's fate. If I'm the sap then you're the maple & I'll stick close to you til I make it to your table. Over the microphone, over the video projector I almost called your name but then I refrained cause I will catch you some other way if it's fate, if it's fate, if it's fate. 

 

THE NOTHING PART II

Choose to use your heart if even towards the harshest fate that it may be swallowed, a masticated mistaken thing. That you may ripely pine in the mammoth nothing of the night left to your own devices & too exhausted to know what you want. I know, I know. And oh, such is the torment of the giving of your organs: when given willingly, how merciless a hand can be on you. & oh, the sour fear of defeat like wounded soldiers all still and slight lining like silk all the roads to your marrow. & all the heaps of hurt, well, they've had it up to here with you & further but when you feel it at your hip every time how you wish that it was home. Oh no, we're singing: Lay me down, lay me low, let go your crown, disarm me. Singing: take me south, take me home, hold your own and claim me. Claim me yeah yeah yeah. That we may ripely pine in the mammoth nothing of the night left to our own devices and we'll know, we'll know, we'll know just what we want. We'll know, we'll know, we'll know what we want.

 

TAXIDERMIST, TAXIDERMIST

Dislocation, pushy persuasion. Ligament and bone. Ligament and bone. Crystal structures, defects and blunders. Once turning all my mineral to stone, stone. & so I reintroduce me to myself. "How do you do?" I say, "I've heard such lovely things about who you are & where you've been, but be in me again, back in me again." Will-will-oh-wilderness, my wilderness dark & ambiguous, will you tangle me in? Lie-oh-lie-oh-lioness, my lioness, sharp & ambivalent won't you lie on my skins? Taxi-taxidermist, taxidermist, sopping ripe intentionist, I am intent on paying attention again to my own cracked compass, steady-handed. Semantic satiation where I can say your name over & over til it means nothing. A deliberate extinction of everything I know I was never meant to know, know about you. But you are a fawn with such secrets & I have been fond & keen on your meekness, I've bled dry for your arms & longed to gnaw on your neck, fawning over it. My love, my sweet love whom I am yet to unravel with: one night lie on my pulse, tap the beat of my heart out on your clavicle. One day we shall be enraptured, sweet enrapture. What anticipation & how masterful: that you can show me I am here in this world tall & truly true. Meeting myself before I meet you.