Mid-Atlantic

And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name

You can’ t say it that way any more.
Bothered about beauty you have to
Come out into the open, into a clearing,
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you
Is OK. To demand more than this would be strange
Of you, you who have so many lovers,
People who look up to you and are willing
To do things for you, but you think
It’ s not right, that if they really knew you...
So much for self-analysis. Now,

A Poem for S.

Because you used to leaf through the dictionary,
Casually, as someone might in a barber shop, and
Devotedly, as someone might in a sanctuary,
Each letter would still have your attention if not
For the responsibilities life has tightly fit, like
Gears around the cog of you, like so many petals
Hinged on a daisy. That’ s why I’ ll just use your
Initial. Do you know that in one treasured story, a
Jewish ancestor, horseback in the woods at Yom
Kippur, and stranded without a prayer book,

I Sing the Body Electric

1
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

New York American Spell, 2001

I / omen

What was going on in the New York American
Black/red/green helmeted neon night?
The elevator door was closing behind us, we were the ones

Plunging floor after floor after floor after floor
To the abyss — but it was someone else’ s face
Staring from the screen out at us, someone else’ s face

Saying something flashing from the teleprompter:
Though what the face said was meant to reassure,
Down in the abyss the footage kept playing,

Morning Sun

Raised on a cozy diet of conditional love,
I learned to emoji from teevee.
Now I’ m hounded by gripes before my time.
Twisted in my genome is this thorn,
and all I see are feuds,
even swans got boxing gloves for heads.

— Ah Ketty-San, why so mori? Maybe you need upgrade
of person?

History shat on every household.
Cop cruisers wand their infrared along bludgeoned homes,
demanding boys to spread your cheeks,
lift your sac —
Now, here’ s an alcopop to dull that throb,
hide your ugly feelings.

Aubade

Lathe of the ocean. Perpetual
Motion machine of the waves. Everything still
Being turned and shaped to a shape nobody
Foresees: Ten years ago, was it, when we

Walked that shore, too earnest and sheepish
To hold hands? The wind cutting through our clothes
Cleansed and burned, the chill off the Atlantic
An ache we courted in our dumbstruck talk:

KM4

1/ THE MOUTH

Not English Somali Italian French the mouth
blown open in the Toyota battle wagon at KM4
speaks in a language never heard before.

Not the Absolute Speaker of the News,
not crisis chatter's famine/flame,
the mouth blown open at KM4
speaks in a language never heard before.

Speaks back to the dead at KM4,
old men in macawis, beards dyed with henna,
the women wearing blue jeans under black chadors.

On the Yard

After lockdown, tier by tier undresses to sleep:
Each skull nestles in its mattress-hollow.
Wall facing wall inside of wall shrinks to a keyhole:
A fly creeps through and starts to buzz, reeling through bars
Down steel corridors. A dreamer’ s eye follows the fly,
And wherever the fly lands, the eye touches down
With an airier Midas touch that turns all to glass:
The eye wakes to Bentham’ s panopticon, glazed cage
Of an inspection house where only the Warden sees all.

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