Song of the Genie

I lake the drought.
………..I bake flood off again.
I make fools rich enough
………..that for a while
they fool the rich enough
………..to dictate style.
I beautify. I muscle up.
………..I thin.
I pheromone.
………..I woo. I violin
the mood. I penthouse suite
………..and private isle.
I ease death out of view,
………..but never smile,
and only everlast
………..what’s always been.

The books and movies
………..are confused of course.
It’s my warm, timeworn rag
………..that rubs your mind
to force the rank wish free:
………..voracious, blind,
and magnetized
………..to bankruptcy, divorce…
exhaust fumes primed
………..into the past due Porsche.
At last I’d grant you you,
………..and you decline.

The Latch

We nurse our secrets
and their suckle hurts.

Since birth the two top teeth
are white and keen

as science in fluorescent
light. Our shirts

are wrenched; the shamed
breasts tend mastitic, mean

all night and febrile
when those pink lips purse

at two am
to drop that guillotine

of appetite. Of course
what’s most perverse

is that it would burn more
to tell, to wean

the creatures off
our silence—milky blue

and warm, a carnal
dribble at their chins.

Each leaks a cry
so innocent and thin

Northern Lake

The early days of summer have nothing
to lose. After months of stringent thrift,
the light squanders itself and promises
still greater prodigality tomorrow.
Like young dogs the hours run hard
and roll in the grass after breakfast.
When they lie down and pant
on the dock, the whole lake turns choppy
and raw. I shut and I open my eyes.
The sky is the pale blue of blood
under skin and as its brightness strikes
the water something shatters, continues
shattering, soundlessly, weightlessly, over
and over. It’s the law that says energy,
in its changes, remains a constant value.
In such moments the shine dunks itself
in the water, goes all the way under.
It picks and smooths out every knot
and wet wrinkle. It sheathes each minnow
in a little cape of fresh fire—the light,
in its entirety, spreading through
this soft lapping, so much light pouring
into the lake that by logic the long sky
should darken. But no, on the surface
nothing is lost, every watt is accounted for.
If anything, the air’s brilliance also increases:
new facets, new feathers, new layers.

Migraine

……….Unless the temples tremble,
this brain burns

few prayers, and this mind
……….minds no shiny Bible

……….when the kind God’s there.
It’s hurt that earns

attention. This hot
……….vein behind this eyeball

……….only learns alertness
by its pain,

and there’s a tender
……….tinder near this ear

……….whose nothing-nature’s
never won a name,

though now its livid suffering
……….proves it’s dear.

……….This hour’s dear
in which this brow’s an altar,

sweating gall
……….like gasoline to grease

……….the angry mass of me
in flames I’ll falter

out of when the graceful
……….burner’s eased.

A Few Keys

This is the key
to my pickup
and this is the key
to my home.
The key to my laptop
is letters and symbols;
six zeros are key
to my phone.
The deadbolt, the engine,
the network,
the hush
and the digital tone—
what this key can do
I’ve forgotten.
This key is another
key’s clone.

This key takes the form
of a feather. It swings
the green doors
in the roofs of these oaks.
This match is the key
to an altar.
It springs a black
ladder of smoke.
This key is the green
in my brown left eye,
but what’s shuttered
tonight is unclear.
This key is the pitch
and the torque
of a voice. May it fit
in a favorable ear.

Shiversong

Given snow
that doesn’t flinch
to throw its pounds
through heaven inch
by inch, that sows
a billion motes
of chill into
this ground no man
defends; and given
wind that won’t
begin to tell
us how it’s driven,
where it fell
from, what it’s meant
to blow and which
proud limbs the clouds
want riven—no,
not even why
its howling whims
have pardoned us
this far—friend, given
such, it’s hard
to watch the black-eyed
scarecrow miming
care above
our blighted garden:
tonight he seems
intent to wrack
the soil and climb
the air, to die,
to crash his flimsy
cross against
this great grim passion
in the sky.