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amor es dolor

December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment


it’s hard it’s hard it’s hard it’s hard


what’s worst is that
there’s no reason why, why I should
feel as though my chest
is being prized apart as in
a bypass, ribcage
cracked open like a book or
proscenium raised to reveal
a dia de los muertos
shrine, this
celebration of loss
this mourning of the greatest joy

what feels too big to write and so
to understand but I’ll
I feel grateful for, I feel graced by
a love that fells me, that compels
my genuflection before an openness
to the infinity of pathways possible
the messy complexity of no hope,
the wisdom of no escape from complexity
but the power, the intensity that
folds my knees
opens my hands to the
I shall be what I shall be
that stands me open, ribcage cracked
as life and love pool to overflowing
past the loose catchment of
my cupped hands
is too much to contain, too much as it
rips into and through me
it’s too big and I
too impossibly small

it’s like the scene at the end of
the secret of nimh
when timid mrs. brisby
who everyone thinks is helpless
is the only one who can grasp onto
nicodemus’s flaming amulet
she drops it at first
but then she steadies herself and
holds on and
the power travels
up her arms, engulfs
her entire body, until
with that power she moves
the cinderblock home
where her children reside
to the lee of the stone,
to safety:


but for me
I am smaller and more timid
than a cartoon mouse
love is too big, too powerful
the amulet too fiery
to be

or maybe it is the fiery hot of the crowning
when a child roars for entrance
into the world
heaving downward and out with
the hardest demand
through a body not
built for it but
built for it,
elastic by
the skin of its teeth, by
the tinest, most precarious tunings
of evolution,
just barely barely barely

on the one:
I could not use this metaphor
if I had not lived through it myself

on the other:
I lived it but only
from outside and beside
myself, taken over,
the boundaries of self
in childbirth, as in sorrow,
uncertain: where do you and this other
begin and end, where do the edges
unravel into the infinite beyond?
when my anxiety and anguish
compels yours which amplifies
mine, an echo chamber of
shared consciousness?
if the reality to be apprehended is that
there’s no difference really,
inside/outside, self/notself
how can knowledge of sacred bond
(you and me, thus me and the inarticulable,
the name with no vowels)
not destroy me?

the pain of not knowing
the joy of being
okay with not knowing,
of knowing
it’s okay, it’s okay
to hold both at once
to hold both at once
will rip me apart, I can’t
survive this yet
I will, the knowledge is
too great and too terrible and
too beautiful,
awful and aweful

in the car I watched your dog
cry when you went into the store
out of sight even for a minute
the pain of thousands
of little losses like this
I understand, I understood
which was why
I stroked her head and
reassured her you’d come back
and you did


what if

what if

and then alice’s parable
at first so seemingly disconnected
but later so helpful and revealing:

of a man she loved and left
a crackhead
who told her one visit that
he gathers his drugs together
in front of him
and cries even before he takes them
knowing they’ll eventually be gone
missing something right before him
mourning loss even before it happens
knowing losing inevitably shadows having
emptiness inseparable from satisfaction

now she loves a man who loves men
a man who loves her back
as a friend but will never return
the sacred eros of the desire she feels for him

in the taqueria she thanked me
for not suggesting she love someone else
someone more accessible or realistic
someone less complex and painful to love

no, it’s okay/it’s not okay, no/it’s okay

because it has to be
because I don’t want to be that crackhead
and so
we have to go on as though
it’s okay even when it feels like
it never will be
we have to hope synchronous
moments of clarity are possible
when they feel entirely opposite

I have to trust
that love is big enough
to contain these spasms of

that I am forgiven
these things

forgiven the ways
in which I complicate a happiness
forgiven the ways I get scared
forgiven the ways in which
I create the waves that toss me
because of all the ways
I am imperfect, incomplete
forgiven the ways in which
I am producing noise in seeking
silence, fuzz in seeking
focus, forgiven
all I do not understand

this is why it’s hard
but what to do
except try to write
except trust that the you
that gestures outward to universe
still loves me
that you will return in time
until then
I should put on my shoes
and run run run run
away from this static
away from myself
so that I too can return
to you

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December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

what attracts me to a person
is also what scares me

it’s like what
I told you
on the phone
when you told me you wanted

a great passion, illicit pleasure as with
a married friend of ours back home
involved in a stormy affair
for the last three years:

in the end her pleasure
can’t be excised from her pain
they grow together inoperably
as a tumor hugs the sterile
tissue of the brain

not the sunniest metaphor for desire
I know
but one whose central truth
I know you recognize:
I saw you had written it
down on a page
surrounded by anxious doodles

just as I recognize its truth
as when we ride down F Street
past the faded strip mall
with its Christian bookstore
and bike shop and Laundromat
and take-out pizzeria

(always looking like
another time, anachronistic, adjacent
to the undeveloped corner lot
where scrub grass plows up
pavement – sidewalk piled up
in ruin past ancient train tracks)

as when you turn
around on your bike
and say to me over your shoulder:
we should start a blog
confident and magnanimous
generous until
I suggest it might have
a theme—like what?
you say, and I’m stumped,
nothing comes to mind

we used to have all these projects:
open an unlicensed caberet
out the spare front room
run a gallery of margin art,
an exhibition space for your doodles

but you weren’t interested
in these ideas because
they weren’t your own
you didn’t know what
your own ideas were:

and I have always been worried
that one day you would leave me
for someone else who created
someone who moved you to create

so when you turn to me
both of us riding down F Street
to your apartment where
we’ll make love to cover
over the hurt, to settle
the terms of your
desire for another
within the terms of our

so when you turn back to me
on your bike
and say

how can we have a theme
if you don’t have any ideas

all I can do
is lower my eyes
all I can do
is think:

that the paradox of desire
is that it arises from your otherness
your what I don’t possess
your what I can never be
your where I can never follow
its pleasure is its pain

and a poemless love undoubtedly
is a love without desire
yet to write you is to
despair, somehow
to feel you ride
ahead of me there
up F Street
in the dark

10 April, 2006

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