Sweetness, back home
the Adriatic tightens around the shore
like a snake around a hot rock.
in each house on the island
there’s a table. on every table,
a loaf, round like a Slavic face.
ashes in the oven.
ashes on the domes of the bread.
ashes on the roof of one’s mouth.
last year my cousin died
alone in his house. our family—
scattered around the world—
got caught in a phone web,
catching up with each other,
and we forgot his body.
but things were funny: phone in hand,
someone picked her nose,
and pulled out a bloody fingernail.
another drew a hair—tough, tar-black—
from between her teeth, a pubic curl,
and wondered whose it was.
and, listen, in Sarajevo,
the fit ones ran through the Sniper Alley.
the rest took up dying.
longing is a trick, baby.
go inside a rock, a ringtone, the red coal of my tongue,
and you’ll only taste yourself.
babe. keep the curtains parted.
see the moon tossing her long white hair
across the ocean.
hear its steady, back-arching roar.
look at the chenilled strip of black sand,
that fool walking with a flashlight.
listen to the ocean and come apart
like a letter in rain. babe. even dandelions
lose their faces at night.
"Department Of Dream Justice"
I return home, sit on the pier and listen to rocks suck the sea like Frank Booth on blue velvet.
At dawn my sister yanks me awake, and the oval shell of the world cracks open. Boats gape like a line of polished funeral shoes.
A cortège of animals gallops fluently by our house, their muscular architecture covered with lush white wool.
The garden beds are dry, laundry lines bare.
Sister says, Come back soon.
We close our eyes, wish for rain
and wake in another dream: on streets of distant towns, each of us, alone, carries keys from our old house, looks to unlock a door
that fits the key.
Your palms close around the book of my hips. The minor tongue my hips are inscribed in.
Your palms, two walls within which I sing.
For years I spent nights drifting over wheat fields and vacant parking decks, and the wind whistled, whistled, whistled a long narcotic tune.
On the sandbank tonight shards of broken glass,
the river licking its shore clean, like a dog nursing its wound, and the moon, translucent, is a soap bubble on your glistening back.
My bones are hollow. There’s a quick flutter of wingbeats.
You turn, holding back the curtain of the night, and say, Baby. Don’t you see you’re home.
For eternity we’re a house on fire.
The man with a boat on a leash. The bailaor dancing naked in my living room.
The man eating sea urchins in his bathtub, spray-painting eels into silver bedroom whips, singing of hollow canyons.
The man with two pistols against his skinny waist. The man rapping about white knuckles.
My father eating goulash his mother fixed from his pet pigeons. How he sobbed in our sea-splashed house after she died.
The man with a horse torso digging a trench of doubt. American outage.
I have a fondness for tight spaces. I tell you about each one I tucked myself into.
The addict on the waterfront who always almost returned. The man who smelled of autumn. The man tearing along on his guitar like an overnight train, singing El dolor que tengo yo, el dolor que tengo yo.
The swallows didn’t return this year, Sister writes. Their nests still line the eaves of the roof.
Baby. I want to be a swallow. Smallest, bluest of them. Skim the surface of the sea at sunset. Feed in flight. Build a cup of warm mud in the cover of someone’s large house, wake up in the mornings, and while my children still sleep, feel like it is me who keeps them safe.
Because the desert renders everything boundless and bare,
undeserving of existence—like the self-loathing types you fall for—
you delight in it. The lone, sun-drowned shack doubling as Goldfield’s Radio Museum, its toilet planters, and P. K. yapping about spy transmitters.
Oasis Avenue. Car Forest. The Dinky Diner.
Chip driving by in a giant truck, just off the testing site.
Wild Cat Ranch! Someone whispering, What can I do for you, sweetie, 100s of miles from anyone’s ears. Isn’t that what all of us want?
You adore what remains of Mina’s homes, its padlocks and boarded-up windows, bars across doors, No Trespassing signs.
And the mines, also abandoned, also disused, yet somehow like homecoming.
The Death Valley. Oh, the Death Valley. Its hot grip, its erotic grandeur, its golden skin, and—
Look! In all that flax and rust, the two of us, sipping gas station coffee, small as two fools of Breughel’s, turning into desert sand.