two generations back
there is a concertina
always referred to as a squeezebox

there’s also a pair of wire rim glasses
and a green trunk
made of wood and metal
so spacious
two of me could curl inside
underneath addresses painted in white
across the top
poland in the left corner
milwaukee, wisconsin in the center

it might be possible
that these three things
are all the history i have

and they are fought over
like land
with ever-shifting borders

and uncle henry
because he is meanblue-eyed
and thick-shouldered
and did things
like hold his sister
under water
as a joke
wins the squeezebox and glasses

uncle henry
gets to touch
the memory
of josef
if he wants

warm and full and contagious
in a white tshirt and blue jeans
josef whose eyes glimmer in two languages
slipping his baker’s hands
into leather straps
after dinner
pulling and pressing songs out
across the table

leather straps
hold his hands
against the vibration of sound
straps the same color
as the belt that left marks
that no one fights over
for keeps

a slow wave called forgiveness

inhabited the house
for a week

most evenings
you could find me fireside
with a pen
a computer
a book
and tin can
the one with a blinking red light
that tells me
when the words come in

there was a weekend in the forest
two books of poetry
and a night in the sauna
switching from sweat
to porcelain cold plunge
under clear sky stars

in the bunk beds
a snoring woman
slept on top

there was a tree
sawed open like a sequinned woman in a magic trick
my fingers
on every amber ring
my nose
to the sap

we exchanged
apples for tomatoes
both cubed
both white

something washed in
a slow wave called forgiveness
accompanied by a
barb in my throat
perhaps it was a calendar
marking every day
since spring 2008
where we found each other
in dolores park
perhaps it was a map
with highway routes
I-5, I-90, and highway 2
highlighted in pink
perhaps it was the clockwork
of taking you apart
with a watchmaker’s tools

national day of channeling tenderness in many forms

1. yesterday’s gua sha marks
not scrapes
not bruises
rough lines
along spine
and sneaking out
from underneath shoulderblade

also, the tiniest bruise
under cheekbone
where yesterday’s needle was

2. first breakfast:
red grapefruit
dripping down arms
second breakfast:
rice cereal
with walnuts
and cranberries

3. triangle pose

4. the snow queen story
reveals how
maps are mirrors
and sometimes
the scars on your feet
are a map
and your
bloody footprints
become someone else’s map

5. running cold faucet water
into mason jar
of sprouting
tipped sideways
in a bowl
to drain

6. the joy
of a consistently swept

7. national day of
channeling tenderness
in many forms

8. dreams and waking communiques
regarding fluevogs
a pure wonder
dialed in
on the lifecurrent

9. unraveling
the details
of hatred
the worst part
is the repetition.
that they’ve seen this
every year
like another set of knuckles
against a bruise
still in bloom

10. over pad thai
and red curry
we talk about
the second agreement
in relation to

11. fuschia sequin
slipped under
my W key
this could be a problem

to ensure that no one, not even air, is taken for granted

1. sunstretching
with jason

2. i meet
kelly link‘s
girl detective
on the corduroy couch
under wool blankets
the treesleeper
the closet entrances to the underworld
the 12 pirouetting bank robbers

3. six-grain hot breakfast cereal
plus apple
steaming in wooden bowl

4. hot pink tape
in lines
across cover
of black journal

5. accupuncture
in two parts
one: needles tucked under cheekbones
needles as whiskers
needles between the toes
two: gua sha
along spine
edging up
shoulder blades

6. glass, concrete and stone
through the floorboards

7. violet cassis
we divide
and divide
and divide
the taste of ferries
winter saltwaves
tossed wishes
and boxing gloves

8. a macaroon
a truffle
in chocolate mousse mess

9. two small sips
of toby’s
dirty martini

10. discussing
urban terror
a new campaign is born:
to ensure
that no one
not even air
or skin
is ever taken for granted

11. rainwet knees
under blanket mountain

12. gratitude
for coconut water offerings
by oil lamp
in the tree top wind

before tourniquetting

1. first customers
boy in pink hoodie
with white text
spilling across back
corner booth
sun filling faces
with light
girl in layers
like a laplander

2. the new york times
tells me
about beijing artists
forced evictions
of studio and home.
when i say forced
i mean
men swinging iron rods
injured artists
hospital bound
without warning
and beyond reason
unless one considers
a viable reason.

3. olive oil
so green
poured up to the red 6-mark
of plastic measuring cup pitcher
julia asks
what is THAT!?
and i respond
olive oil
with a smirk
plastic pitcher palette
lined up on stainless silver
yellow, orange, green
orange juice, carrot juice, olive oil

4. the flashes
across memory.
there is the one about
the backseat
in story city
while the thunderstorm
there is the one
about virginia’s face
lit up
in the underground room
where potatoes
plugged into wires
generated electricity.

5. marea shows me
where the serrated blade
went through skin
before tourniquetting it tight
in transformers bandage

6. red oil lamp
and nightlight
while shower
over shoulders

7. pedaling
the long
distracted way home
under the cool
star-poked sky
searching for
a scout on a misison

8. molly’s handwriting
on white-board
telling me
how my soup
made her workday
10 times
more enjoyable
than usual

9. lyndsey telling us
the mind
is a glass of water
with sand at the bottom.
take the spoon out.
stop stirring.
let it settle.

10. flute as talking stick
we sit queer
instead of straight
in and out

11. fingers in chocolate bowl
a mouthful of sweet and dark

12. when we go in for a hug
we trekk
across the universe
mountain forests
sunbleached ocean sand
houses built with earth

13. in the light
of the hour
before the blue hour
the green
of the weeping willow
dripping down
is nothing but
keep your eyes on the road, girl

i tell myself
while rolling
through stop signs

14. on the other side
of the confessional booth screen
my heart shines gold
liquid honey

saving the soup with apple juice

1. dream:
talking to someone named ursa major

sign language and art supplies
a hand to the chin and then away
to say thank you

2. will walks in
hair slicked
shades on
wearing a suit
underneath wool trench
dressed like an asshole
he calls it.
pulls business card from front inside pocket
manila colored rectangle  reading:
Sanitation Technician Lead Engineer
Vita cafe
Portland, OR

this from a kid
i’ve only ever seen
in black jeans and a tshirt

the hilarity
is astounding
because it’s not just the suit
he’s in character

3. best move yet:
slipping into yoga pants
shortly after
home arrival

4. joolie’s cd
on repeat
for onion chopping
collard ribboning
cutting metal cans of fire roasted tomatoes
and coconut milk

5. molly
saving the african peanut soup
with apple juice

6. in the go-round
comes up roses

7. raindrops
drawing circle traces
on still water

talk to strangers

1. bright miracle
lemon wedge
of liquid honeysun
passing through eastfacing window
layering over pillows

2. the open tin on the table top
calling out a substitution:
chocolate chocolate chip cookies
for ruby grapefruit

3. dark
and heartshaped
named after a bird
unfolded from foil wrapper
carrying me through
the boredom
and piss-smelling

4. 2010’s first bluffset
the blanket we sit on
the blanket we cover our cross-legged laps with
the blanket of sky
layered over us

5. cold hands in black gloves
tearing away pieces of injera
scooping lentils, cabbage, spinach

6. corinne, gladys, the fire and i
with rick benjamin‘s clear-voiced illuminations
after i ask how old he is
gladys asks
is he married?

7. stirring red fire
in metal grate
like stirring pasta
on the stove

8. rick benjamin
tells his kids
to talk to strangers
coaxing them to the shores
from middle of the lake of fear
they were born into

9. rick benjamin
circulating love
unabashedly and without embarassment
a political act

10. meet me in the treahouse
with pens
to embellish the plans
involving trumpets
and bubble machines

11. i’ll slice and stitch you
with tenderness
and precision

12. details of the 11day countdown
the new advent season
of raunchy hope