museums of joy in our marrow

the evidence:

a tower of cassette tapes
some mixed
some original albums

dried flowers
dating back
to 2001

teeth
still fastened to jawbone
of unidentified animals

mold
growing on the toes
of black leather clogs

a quilt
hand-assembled
and machine-sewn
during the cold rains
of 2009

postmarks from
portland
milwaukee
san francisco
oman
minneapolis
honolulu
fairbanks
vancouver
arcata
chicago
and other points
between here and there

a futon frame
with a broken slat

scuffs
in brownred leather
at the heels and toes
and sometimes
along the sides

a box
big enough
to crawl into
stuffed with fabric
corduroy
wool
fishnet
fake lamet
cotton

a thimble full of glitter

stills from a riverside
with grafitti and hills

a tangle of maroon thread scraps

bouquets of dried lavender

bunions on both feet

purple lupine
conical
and flowering
in the front yard

a rusted pair of scissors
hanging from frayed rope

repeat indentations
from cheap heels
on livingroom hardwood floor

black and white photographs
nailed to walls
from somebeody else’s
family tree

the fading
and blooming
of bruises

a rolodex
with one key
hanging
on gold and teal thread
from its dial

to know that we have built up
museums of joy
in our marrow

to know that we have trudged through
generations of struggle

to know that we might leave one fingerprint

to know that our names might be passed down
from mouth to mouth
an incantation across time

to know
that no object
can contain us

across / to or on the other side of / beyond / over

(one)
your footing was steady
but i helped you across
when i became the first
to press that name
the one you chose
into your ear
like one presses a key
into a palm

(two)
there was the time
on the basement floor
when i pulled the plastic plunger
of the syringe up
after pressing down
and saw
the red of your blood.
it’s not right
to see blood then
and you crumpled
and panicked
the quietest panic
and part of you
never got up
off that basement floor
again

(three)
no one

you told me
has ever touched my scars
like that

i’m not sure if you meant
the tenderness
of my featherfingers
or the scorch
of my redcoal tongue

(four)
when you asked
what her body
is made up of,
what she has and doesn’t have
i should have told you:
her body
is made
of rusted spraypaint cans
ivory piano keys
red duct tape
stolen spools of thread
and the turbulence of
salted ocean waves

i should have told you
her body is made of
the same things
ours are made of:
muscle
marrow
cells dividing

i should have told you
her body
is a combination
of geometry
and magic
with something like the
fibonacci sequence
for dna

(five)
half a mile
down the road
a rivercreek rushes
snowmelt and whitecurled
and we are all
moving
in a motion like wading,
crawling,
swimming
from being one person,
state,
or thing
to another.

photos + words about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same

1. gino’s rainbow italian ice
(the best you’ll ever have)
transported from coast to coast
via satellite

2. assignment:
photos and words
an essay
about what’s changed
and what’s stayed the same

3. navel orange
sliced into 8 pieces
bright
and sweet

4. the case
of the dark purple
stormclouds
and an arm-muscle
as antenna
tuning into
bunny ears
and phone books
from rome

5. artforum
laid open
and resting
on my knee
(the reviews section
features
shows
by art collectives/collaborations
rather than
solo artists.
this
recognition
feels new)

6. rose tulsi tea
steaming
in cupped hands

7. fresh paint
the color of
my childhood kitchen
bright yellow
minus
the strawberries

8. sweet potato
kale
onion
garlic
tamari
vinegar
plus
a pre-snack
of cheddar on toast

9. rainwet nightwalk
through neighborhood
fir trees tall and still against sky
and even after nine years
i react
with disbelief:
i’m living in a fucking rainforest!

10. dark chocolate
with salt
and almonds
slipped
under bedroom door

11. searching the corner store
for crossed fingers
and although i can’t find them
the cashier says
good luck!

12. fireworks
far across the river
illuminating clouds
and echoing
northeast
across sky
to me
sound meeting ear
like oceanwaves meet toes

13. in raincoat and galoshes
inhaling night
springwet:
unfurling green
stone
woodfire
petals rotting
wood
turning soft
in mini-lake puddles

seeing things like faces in the clouds

1. you tell me
how the life spans
of those
who work
graveyard
are
1/3 shorter
than those who don’t
and from there
we take capitalism apart

2. something about the sound effects
of a plate full of food
crashing
makes me laugh as hard
as these spring downpours

3. a man
sells popcorn
out of his rolling
luggage
while we,
coated in okra,
get away with hell
on the velvet cushioned
bench

4. the canyon of your back
still ridged
and warm
under my hands

5. candy jernigan
i can’t believe
it’s taken me this long
to discover you
because
i have been speaking
your visual/aesthetic/documenting language
for lifetimes

6. rose tulsi tea
steaming
in mug-curled fingers
rain
forming
vertical lines
against
the poplars
across the street

7. perhaps
it was only a half hour
of a nap
couchcurled
and
sleepslipping

8. gathered
around gin and tonics
in finn’s backyard bus
evie gives us this word:
pareidolia
and explains it as the phenomena
of seeing things like faces
in the clouds
as a part of our desire
to feel connected
(and note
that we never see things like clouds
in faces)

9. i also learn about
spasmodic dysphonia
a voice disorder
involving spasms
of the vocal cords
affecting speech
and voice quality
and the irony
of using one’s voice
is the very thing
that affects it

10. corinne
asks
if she can borrow
my glue stick
i tell her
to get her own
resulting in a 25cent
voluntary
interest

11. i separate cassette tapes
(timelines. histories.)
into three piles:
a. keep
b. don’t keep
c. and listen to once through
before hopefully releasing
into the don’t keep pile

12. i made it
(that moon)
for you
you can take it home
in the morning

13. strawberry fields
ripe
and plastic packaged
a mailslot exchange

14. shannon and i
riding through
streets-turned-rivers
laughing so hard
we charmed a rainbow
into the sky

15. again
the laughter
and bike bells
as shannon calls out
hasta… nunca!

the complete history of human struggle

1. the complete history of human struggle
stored
in
one hip joint

2. thunder boomers
ribcage rattlers
jagged streaks of heat
traveling across the big sky above us

3. rainwet and laughing
out back by the compost and cardboard dumpsters
i call aubin
tough guy
as he makes a break for it

4. a bag of dried mango
two oranges
a chocolate bar with milk and hazelnut
cheddar cheese
sesame rice crackers
two discount soap ends

5.  66 pages
of september
and october
in black and white

6. my current position
remains
this:
to remind
everyone
who freaks out
about the downpours
that they will only last
about 10 minutes
at the most

7. even though
it’s gray and wet
i know it’s certainly
no longer winter
when i can ride
without gloves
to keep
these fingers
warm

8. secret garden family field trip
four of us
buckled in and
heading south on mlk
in a red subaru
past the resale shop
whose sign reads
free pony rides, b.y.o.p.

9. molly
tells the story
of stone soup
vegetable by vegetable
from the front seat

10. seat belt
separating
my side
from ryders
both of us
in jean jackets

11. a round of appreciations
for molly
the housebuilder
(uniform: carhartt overalls
plus hot pink
v-neck)

12. english
is not sufficient
for this kind of outrage
horror
devastation
(the oil
is still
leaking
into oceanwater.

five weeks later.
at 2,500,000 gallons a day.)

what
to do
while
a planet
hemorrhages
to death?


look to the horizon

1. it begins
with a 50pound sack
of potatoes

it begins with a plastic step stool
perched over
the silver sink

it begins with water
running
til cool

it begins with scraping carcinogenic crust
off cast iron burner grates
before sliding them
through the dishwasher

it begins
as an ache
lodged in my hips

it begins
with a dry erase marker
and a checklist
what we have
and what we need

it begins
by leaving
everything
but my body
at the door

it begins
with a reminder
to look to the horizon
just like you taught me

postmodern math

1. we interrupt this zombie biscuitmaking
to bring you
goldmine eyes
and radiator warmth
wrapped in an ecstatic dance scarf

2. it’s not the gift
of the all-weather writing paper
it’s the gesture
of wrapping it
and the act of
naming
the equation of
detail collecting +
rain +
biking +
final months +
brilliance =
postmodern math

3. the biscuit
exists
merely
as a vehicle
for the sweet

4. brandon
the dishwasher
adds a splash
of lemon juice
to a cupful of orange juice
for hydration

he tells me
after drinking
some high octane shit

(coffee)

5. the thing
i don’t understand
is our profit
rising
every month
(this sunday
the vita cafe
made somewhere around
five thousand dollars)
while the notion
of getting a raise
goes extinct

6. if it’s not
metal
plastic
wood
bamboo
glass
then it must be bone

7. not now
not in this rain coat
not anywhere
in the vicinity
of this grease trap called work

8. after a mason jar dinner
the air
cool with post-rain
our breaths rising
to the sound
of feet
navigating the rural world
folded into portland
in the form of overgrown alleyways

9. sending you off
to ne missouri
via the #75
by way of daybreak housing co-op
en route to the amtrak
with a poem
about community
(this one’s for you, tony, i say)
titled
i’m not afraid of dying
i’m afraid of dying alone

10. the body
a sheet of fine paper
to be letterpressed

tracing a thin gold line

1. all
that matters
is a bouquet of flowers
yardpicked
and hand delivered
in a masonjar vase
while the pink dogwood flowers
glisten
in the post-rain wind
and how quiet it  gets
when the sun
pushes through
sheer curtains
light diffusing
onto white walls

my finger
tracing a thin gold line
around your neck

2. all that matters
is making dinner
for soula

sore forearm
redefining
what it means
to hold
bright green kale leaves
under
the blade
of my knife

3. all that matters
is
how grateful
i am
to reconnect
with another one of the
guilty
‘it’s all your fault’
(how i got into gradschool)
parties

how grateful i am
for that conversation
we once had
at your kitchen table
(two apartments ago)
about
our work
and telling people
i am a writer
when they ask
what i do

how validated
i feel
when it comes down to
how she wants
to carry the story
of my unfolding lifepath
to someone
whose name
i think
i once knew

4. all that matters
is
i get home
at a decent hour
because i have to
get up early for work
tomorrow
and i can’t find any
of my friends
on the dancefloor
and something about this
makes me feel
12
and lost-looking
so that at any moment
someone
i don’t know
and didn’t ask
might say something infuriating
about
how i should smile
more often

5. i’ve been meaning
to get these boots shined
for a long time

dear capitalism: it was never meant to be this way

1. half-pint quilted mason jar
water filled
bedside
backyard forget-me-nots
and scrub jay feather
blooming out

2. the tale of four-day work benders
destroying the body
then building it up
then repeat

3. a banishing spell
for dishpits
kitchen floor grease slicks
knifesore forearms

4. grating
fresh nutmeg
into a deep bowl
of steaming breakfast cereal
with a
blueberry bonus
turning yellowbrown grains
purpleblue

5. the fact
that people die
on their jobs
(or later
from cancer
because of materials they were exposed to
at their workplaces
or bodies
that never fully recover
from injuries
sustained at work)
kills me
every time.

capitalism
has me saying
it was never meant to be this way
(4o years of work
9-5
three weeks to one month off
each year)
again.
and again.

lunches eaten in cars
parked under the trees at nearby parks
lunches spent in tennis shoes
walking downtown blocks
for circulation and sun
lunches
made
from the same shit
we make lunches out of
for other people
everyday
so that the food we work with
becomes
no longer edible

bodies
stagnating
under florescent light
in front of computer glow

bodies
that ache
after 5 days on
so that the two days off
are spent
in recovery

laborers
office workers
service industry workers
sex workers

doing the dirty work
the boring work
the work that keeps your house clean
the work that feeds you
the work that gets you off
the work that builds your houses
the work that you would never be caught dead
doing yourself

6.  a glass
of half finished water
left bedside

7. a bit of string
to add to the collection
which eventually
may grow large enough
to build
a human-sized nest

8. tonight
it’s supposed to thunder
if you hear it
i want you to think of me

9. besides
how good it feels
to hold a book
in my hands
to hear the sound of its pages
under my fingers
to underline
favorite phrases with a nubby pencil
and fold the corners over
with a mischevious finger,
the other reason
i do not believe
in digital books
is how these objects
hold histories.
nights
and sunny afternoons
of read alouds
from page one
to page two hundred ninety four
through turbulunce
through cyclones of
skinsweat
that leave twisted sheets in their wake
read aloud across distances
and through the  movement of seasons

books that
when held in my hands
become the closest
i may
ever get
to reliving
you

fastening history to paper

1. we woke
in my soupbowl bed
to rain
pressing down
on  window panes
like horses press down
when they are almost
unable
to pull the weight behind them
we woke to hail
flinging its iceball staccato
against thin glass

2. frozen blueberries
masquerade
as olives

3. needle
and offwhite thread
fastening
history
to paper

4. someone
must have replaced
my hip joints
with rusted metal
(cogs
hinges
nails
bolts
springs)

5. an alleywalk
sponsored
by spring’s famous
tender green
and
grayblue
color combination

6. a rainbow
curved
and spreading
over
my shoulder

7. hawaii balm
for hearts
scars
and
feet

8. how the woman
breaks away
in small layers
like that clearish
white rock
that i cannot
remember the name of
when she gives words
to the ache
of mystery
of gratitude
of revelation

9. a native language
built around
interacting
with every element
of the world
around oneself