The F-16 cuts through air,
then more air, through clouds,
then more clouds, through whatever is
above the round earth
with its prickles of cities,
its patchy fields and scratchy deserts
kept in by dented roads,
its pigs, wolverines,
All that under it, &
more: perspective, view,
dreamy vision, memories of
front rooms, school rooms,
time striped, hatched,
notched on the face of it,
on the vast open face of it,
nothing subtracted, good
or ill. Nothing
taken away: not memories
of who one is supposed to hate
nor statues of who someone once
admired. Like when S said
emotions are only added,
added to themselves and to each
other, and that my reminder we needn’t
be lonely isn’t right, exactly.
The love is added in, she said:
added in like almonds or copper,
like copper to gold, injected
like insulin, inserted like
a grace note. She said, the night bird will still call us to
wakefulness and we’ll be alone
before we’re together. Together,
I insisted. We are
alone and together,
and we’ll be wistful and satisfied,
and forgetful and reminded.
It’s the blessing in the red ridge
of a scar, she tells me.
The and of living more.
Ah, my pretties, there was a stillness—
think of it as sphere-shaped
a ping-pong ball without the ball—
and perhaps before that grand explosions
around other emptinesses. Our stillness
collapsed, smashed itself white and blue
flew red and purple out, we say. Flew to what
we call here and there.
Sweet ones, the pieces moved this far and
that far until
divided by now and then we called their changes speed, their journeys time.
We call our game knowledge
as we hold hands and live its fun and terror
for, dearest listeners, each particle attracts all others
so we know of gravity, love, luminosity,
and the shifts of momentum called history.
We play here
in this tiny history
the balls we toss falling
(where we call down) like the bits
of what we do not know
flying toward the center of another
before they what we call begin
what we call again.
I don’t usually explain poems, but I like readers to know that I wanted to write a poem to a heavily tattooed woman but also to address a poem to the whole Earth, and this is the result. It was published in Willow Springs (No. 37, Jan. 1996). The quoted poem at the top is copied exactly as found.
Binoculars on a Tattooed Lady
I’m Jane or I’m not sure if I’m Jane or not. I feel like Jimmie but I could feel like Marlena. I’m green I could be a leaf. If I were blue I could the sky. poem by a homeless woman
I want to worship at the fins
of those procephalic dolphins caught
at the top of their arc out of the Sea of Cortez
garrisoned in your temple.
I want to smear
on your forehead ashes
from the collection of burned lovers
in the urn on your hip.
an elbow becomes a category,
your ass a pasquinade.
Who says you don’t shoulder your burden
who burden your shoulder with that
I want to soak you like an avocado pit,
pierce your clean body
and see what grows.