Cathars

Their long looks crossing like spiderwebs
cloth. The cloth is beautiful. They stand
in clusters, shaking the snow
from their hoods and hair
though the whole atmosphere
shines with snow, and the ocean
moves darkly under the wind,
and clouds like empty sails.
Clamorous armies are even now
crossing the rivers. We must stay quiet:
the granaries are full. We have to walk
from hilltop to hilltop, we have to think
like stone. Speak like soft white stone.

No Artificial Sweeteners

Flickering so inconsistently in
and into being, footman to the tyrannies
of World Event and Serotonin,
not to mention negative ions, power lines,
digestion, it was very natural
His Darkness should burn a bewildering
percentage of his time trying to self-define.
He measured his usefulness to society
against the baskets of lemons people
leave on the sidewalk in lemon season,
grimaced. It was that season. The moon rose,
the little dogs came out for one last pee
before bed, and above Telegraph, a billboard
flickered: Dave’s Killer Bread. Purpose in every loaf.

West

It is said a plane has no inside,
no depth — just folds and intensities,
but here I am deep inside this Spirit
Airbus, folded into the bosoms
and paunches of the lumpenproletariat,
the Prince writes glumly in his notebook,
even my desire for intensity is weak,
I guess I’ll have some thoughts on the novel,
how it revalues empty time as luxurious,
not full, even as the value of luxury drops—
kill me. The irrigated desert scrolls past
like a mechanical Mondrian, thins to cut-rate Braque,
and it’s true the sunset is very beautiful
when brief, so tawdry when drawn on—

Pure verb

Lee was playing Liszt on the Bösendorfer,
wrinkling his nose — he still had some beef
with Liszt, but, he said, it would be
a greater shame to let these six extra keys
just sit there — I don’t understand
the Prince said quietly, weeping at the beauty
of the decadent music, the dark pearls
clittering down his porcelain cheeks,
collecting in a small pile in the deep folds
of the Heriz. The tone is more sensuous
in the middle range, Lee said, looking out at
the night as he played. But, mon dieu,
how the keys stick in this heat — packing
you tight with newspaper for the winter
can’t help that, alas, he smiled at the great black thing.

Sublessee

Myself and Rumur in the linguist’s house
tend the cat. She grows long hair he combs.

He says he sometimes cries while he combs
and though I haven’t seen it, I believe it.

The locks all stick: ‘you have to feel them.’
When I’m up till three the ancient dial

of the receiver also glows, tired and pale
as a streak of plankton. The classical station

must be left on, always, lower
than a murmur. It calms Sylvie,

who sleeps all day on the single speaker,
her back to the window,

Buildings

I see their streaked faces and recessed entryways, their windows
washed white by the rain. How cheerful, how brave
your voice was as you asked if I wanted anything from Whole Foods,
where you had to go, amid all the other Wednesday clutter—
turning back, you paused in the door, backlit by the morning gray.
Between us lay five years of love, which you talked about
as a quantity, that accumulates. And that morning was the beginning
of that night, morning, day, and night, those thirty-six hours
ten months ago now, when you convulsed with a new, raging sorrow
which I surprised you by returning, but more viciously, finding, as I broke
from the self I’d made, charring ecstasy—hours of weeping and reasoning,
of fucking, drinking, and takeout, hours of storming out and creeping back
and kissing dead lips once more to be sure, hours I refuse to remember
that hardened into the low city I walked out into, already retreating from me.

Operation Pedro Pan

Be not afeard…

This is the man with the tight black beard
that cascaded curling to his nipples.

This is the man with the strong teeth
and the belly laugh flashing full of teeth.

This is Aníbal, who in this country
called himself Rich. Rich,
who towered over me; Rich,
who arrived first, in a red Coke t-shirt,
and when they opened the hatch
onto a blizzard, laughed
and laughed at the sugar
spinning down; Rich, who vanished

into the mountains for a while,
and came back, and smiled;

Rich the careful, the claims adjuster,
the trembler, then the trembler,