Dance Party Shuffle


Most of whatever I do most
happens either early in the morning
when my head’s still full of the night before
or when I’m out walking in the cold air of December

inflated to twice my normal size,
and I’m feeling like a man in a flight suit
pasted into an overwhelmingly unfamiliar landscape
where I don’t know the name of the mountain range

behind me, and neither would I be able tell you how
I continue to arrive and move and falter
all in one piece in the wrestling match
against a man who looks just like me

in a high-waisted 1950’s style bathing suit.
He has the upper hand. Then I do.
Then a cormorant, a sea bass, an elm… But right now
I’m drinking coffee, black, and from here

the backdrop shifts to a tiny little house
in Westwood, Cincinnati. I’m playing “London
Calling” accidentally on repeat,
and I and the man in the 1950’s bathing suit

are either dancing or embracing. It’s hard to say,
because we’re the same man, but circumstances
keep changing and therefore the context
is a live wire upon which we both

bite down, get up, shake hands, perform CPR,
one upon the other until we’re able to walk away
feeling hammered together apart. Both of us
referees and reference points amid all manner

of outlandish interference. The point is that
every one of our moves is dictated by every other
one of our moves, and also the atmosphere
is a matter of projection upon me by me.

Perhaps I’m making too much of jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Perhaps I’m way too plastic flowers. Or
maybe this is really some secluded place in the face
of the faraway and not at all just me

and my coffee in front of a blue screen, fancy
free-falling to a typescripted lake, so that
when finally I come up for air, still singing the chorus
of I know not what, it’s no longer December,

and I’m nothing like the men I used to be.
And yet, the struggle continues each moment
to exist. First I have the upper hand, then he does.
Me and the other me both for and against us.




Cincinnati Poem

Today this tenseness is a past or present anxious.
Is a tortoise-slow finish to a spring into spring.
Let us put this squirrel in its stiffness in a landfill,
and rejoice in our wonder that anything exists at all
even a duck’s liver or a car key or a date. March 12th
2007, or three years ago and some months. Remember
that game where the underdogs came back
with bananas to win it, then the person closest to you
turned terribly green? I mean, flytrap, of course.
I mean, me—closest to me. And how just as suddenly
the worst passed like a fog burning off to reveal
March then April then May. Last night I dreamt
you a smiling car wash, and you fell upon me
as if it were the only thing you’d ever wished, then flipped
like a shark in the suds and the water. If I were the devil
what star would I be, I wonder, and if I were a wren,
what the hell? Somebody clobber my emotions’
ekstasis. You in your galoshes so gorgeous and felt.
Somehow unscrewing a looseness together, we make
a motion picture of angioplasty. Then I feed Agnes
her peas or take my dog Daisy for a Blood Brothers walk.
We set fire to the face on fire and also to Brooklyn,
Tyrannosaurus Rex. Funny or not, we live in Cincinnati,
and it’s taken forever to say so, and next door, so and so
with her black teeth of weeds, and across the street
parking lot 24/7. If I could do things my way,
we’d have a lot more ghosts in the house. We’d do a lot
more cooking, and you wouldn’t have to worry
about the consequences of saying what’s what
to the lovely skyline as seen through the cut in the hill,
because everyone would listen intently, even the barking
mutts with the grrr in their teeth and the smoking red
neighbors with antennae in their backs. And, too,
they would do what we told them when we told them
disappear from our cityscape
don’t come back.