I run my hands over
the smooth white porcelain:
You might have been a fountain
full of silver coins
You might have been
Apollo in the Galleria Borghese
It has no face, yet
it faces me.
I bend my ear to its sturdy shell,
Don’t think it doesn’t dream
its claw feet tense and awkward.
But where would it go?
which were once green and airy--
to the sky to the trees to me--
are now bowing goodbye.
They are browning
They look like tiny Christmas trees.
Fingers stripped of leaves.
They look like fish skeletons.
Not one of them groans
If I only had it to live over.
They did what they could--
jabbed their fists
through the tough dirt,
opened their amazed palms
to the sun.
And now they are sagging,
now they are falling--
Thin as a sock puppet
my neck rises
to offer you my head
Hello out there.
Sometimes my friend eyes
the skeleton that lives
inside me, “Eat!”
Still, my neck stays
It grows old ahead of me.
It holds the talking head of me.
on a black night:
the shaggy white dog
lies on the rug
four paws facing north
size of a gym bag
everything he needs inside
Then there’s that spider
indoors in a corner of porcelain near the tub
acting like there’s no such thing as summer,
suspended in a web of little buggers
small as Oreo crumbs. All eight legs
cringe when I raise my plastic cup
his way, planning to carry him outdoors
to where it’s really happening. But no go.
The Grave's a fine and private place.
Same with the one in the wooden
corner near the broken stereo.
She spreads her limbs like a goalie.
Where are the scientists when you need them?
Arachnida neurotica, spinning silk
for safety, months before winter’s cold.
Sometimes I carry one out, tough love,
make the critter live a full spider’s life
in a patch of green leaves by a fence.
Other times I let them spin and spin,
whisper Rumpelstiltskin in their invisible ears.
is like taking a small mule
into the shower for fun, maybe
to condition its coarse hair,
then seeing the mud on its hooves
and knowing you’re in for it
when your mother gets home.
And pretty soon you’re wondering,
what’s like taking a small mule
into the shower? and what
are you in or out for when Mother
comes home? And your hands
are deep in the animal’s craggy sides
and the floor is wet and there’s an apartment
below yours, and your neighbor
scares you the way she scowls
when you walk downstairs
as if you had hooves
and then you realize you don’t
know what mules eat or where
you could even ride one,
and this little guy’s starting to kick,
hitting the porcelain
tub like a jar of your father’s
shaving cream against the sink
only twenty times louder than
your father, who would never permit
a moose or a mouse or a mule in the tub,
not even as a simile.
Tiny cage of air
on a silver chain
It could hypnotize kings
The planet in the palm of my hand.
Wheat from chaff,
salt from dirt.
Do not underestimate--
those who unclasp these twin worlds,
who enter these holy boats,
come back changed.