I bump my elbow hard

on the fount of pleasure.

Brilliant porcelain, the letter-gram,

 the musical enclosure,

the delicacy of fingers

and Wagnerian excess.

The sweat runs down my back.

I lift my arms in mock salute.

Stones with leaden eyes.

The pine-wood perfume.

In love with water,

I break in water.




Into the river I stagger,

looking for the original,

my intentions inky and animated.

I spoke about you

in my interview

in the guise of James

           Merrill because you’re part

of my outright strangeness.

The committee smiled at my hair.

They touched my Neptunian pearls,

blue-gray in evening.

The gray wool 60s suit pressed the night before.

The reeds swayed in the moonlight.

I felt Fellini’s hand brush my skirt.




The ride home, uneventful.

Polluted riverbanks carrying cow

and insects, sticks burr-ripped into black.

I stripped off the wool

for a black leotard.

I felt my spirit

uplifted by hard work,

the concentration of spirit-water,

alcohol distilled

from plain water.

The car pulsed with air—

switch-events along the Roman road,

the aqueducts

hiding perverts and sex offenders.

Lucite skin, my sister’s face

shone as her own.

Insects grew wings.




Wild with sadness, with longing,

I am wide with loss.

I am lost

in the small openings

of my vision.

Is that a feather?          Tin or aluminum.

A man-made bird blind

unheated in winter

gives no water,

nothing shared,

but the turkey struts

in the leafy bush,

allowing us the pleasure.




Fighting before dinner and then

fighting afterwards, why

when a greater wing of bats whistle-sweep

the trees above our heads, lovely going,

 herbs de Provence

perfume our hands

in lavender, the possibility that our whole bodies

might be perfumed by work—

                   a small tart with a savory crust.

          And after that, trespasses with the feet, it never stops,

   discharge of rushing stream,

never the same spot twice.           

The pot of boiling water steaming up

       the pantry window, if I cook, you clean?

If you clean, I cook?

Never the same spot twice—           

the rocks gleam.




Purified by a long matchstick, the pile is

relit. The pile burns

in smokestack, smokesense,

toking the sense of the difficult.

Pile it on, see what I see: Tight-tipped,

the radiators close in heat, excess water

wringed from rags

drops of alcohol

fall on your cheek

though I care for you

the way my mother would, her hand

replacing my hat—            a reservoir of goodwill

     unvarnished opinions

put out of joint, displaced

          luxury and mourning in the same cup

is the bat living bloody in your nose.




What’s already a tradition—

a cherry tree in relief, and barking dogs

skinny with the knowledge of prairie.




Many flocks of loving sheep.

Many, many flocks

of loving sheep.

Like Merrill

I slept in Ravenna alone

leaving my boyfriend in London.

Strands of horsehair

placed on Dante’s tomb.




My friend, my amulet, my new melody farewell.

Dancing in piles of cloth

that won’t even last ten washings,

the connection festooned

with fabled smoke,

often tall brogan from bounty mecca.

Don’t be afraid of things because they are easy.




Your clothes are wet, my hands are cold, cold

fish bones lodged in my throat.

Plunge bath, sauna, sauna bath, hummum, hot tub, Turkish bath,

Finnish bath, Jacuzzi, Russian bath,

Japanese bath, Scandinavian steam bath, 

annihilation bath. Bereavement bath.

Steam bath, sweat bath, steam room, whirlpool.

Tomb of water. Afterlife.

Eternal rest. Paradise.

I like this life, oblivion

the same thousands of years ago.