It was in the winter of my twenty-eighth year and I was lost
somewhere on the isle of misunderstood wines.
The first time we met I thought almost nothing of it
but the second I remember thinking: good times in dark days.
She became a red cloud blowing through my brain,
a page from a letter in a dream, fading,
her alphabet running in circles of subtle runes.
I knew a girl who thought she was a witch and I knew a girl who was a witch.
That difference has stayed with me ever since.
But what can you do in Syracuse except look inside a snowflake
to find a bird, look inside the bird to find a wound,
look inside the wound to find stars and moons.
In bed at night the static came in from Quebec,
hockey games on the AM band, faint radio in French,
cold places that arced to colder places.
If I was lucky I might dream about summer, no girls,
just a hot beach and the boardwalk’s sun-fucked wood.
Awake though it was better to be with her than with anyone else.
It was desperate like when I was broke in Vienna and all I could
think about was how to get money for chocolate and bock.
I would give up and just then she’d be at the door.
I loved when I smelled beer on her breath during a morning walk,
especially if the snow was melting in the cemetery.
Sort of how a luscious olive can be so close to rottenness.
It was always too much and not enough, too much, not enough.
This was the red clouds, the cabernet and colt’s tooth in my head.
Somebody set fire to her house, and while it was a crime,
I’m not sure I could have said it any better; she was that kind of girl.
She told me about the missing time, the year she couldn’t remember,
how she skipped from nine to eleven, and I was dumbstruck.
The weatherman said Syracuse. Red clouds, good times, dark days.
You know when you have a dream and then afterward it happens?
FRAGMENT ON LOSS
This place is a message and part of a system of messages.
In fairytales there is always something wrong with the apple.
They etch the lesson into the iceberg of the kitten’s eye.
When the bough breaks: the cradle — the cradle.
This place is a message.
When Piotr’s wife lost the baby, the bough breaks.
Eating the flesh of the dream fish, the same falling inward.
I will make you fishers of men, a part of a system of messages.
With the cradle and the crab-apple we commemorate the flesh of the dream fish.
Nothing is commemorated here.
This place is a dream and a system of dreams.
When Piotr’s wife sits in the conical light, the cradle falls inward.
The same blue quartz, the smell of cold pears.
Virgo in the iceberg’s eye.
In my effort to write
sustainably, I work
on a Mac made from
You might say I’m
in many inner circles
right now, somewhat
like those surveillance
cameras set to watch
over their fellow
An engineer assures me
with baritone confidence
that the next growth
industry is clouds.
Perhaps; and because we
don’t know any better,
we call this our freedom
as it eats out our substance.
Who minds if we pass
our corked existence
along to posterity
like a collection plate?
Don’t bother accusing me.
It’s not as though I deny
my gall’s pyroclastic geometry.
Please, somebody cut
this stone from my heart;
I have so many birds
TRAWLING THE WISHING WELL
Seasonal defective: gray commute, electoral smut.
Forever avoiding the people I really like, the personal
is the political, or— I don’t know why.
Let’s rather be in Cartagena on a balcony
overlooking the Playa Grande, every face
far away and beautiful, and let’s be rich too.
Slothful even in my unproductive desires,
Indra’s net hauling up trash fish.