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.