The Empty Chair

Today from the rainy garden
we brought nasturtiums and sunflowers
and laid them in garlands
before the empty chair.

Together we knelt and prayed
and sang from full throats
in the dark and quiet room
as the light fell around the chair.

The eyes in the face in the picture
resting on cushions on the chair
were bright and loving and noble
gazing into the darkness of the singing room.

Leaving the room and entering the morning
we knew the daylight would carry us
through the weeping trees and streets
back in the evening to the feet of the chair.

We began and ended before the empty chair
laying flowers the master's feet
would never touch;
nor his hand brush the hair back from our faces.

In the morning we ate the fruit
we laid there the day before,
in the quiet winter kitchen
filling with quiet white light.

Feel us swaying, singing, crying
to the beat of the drum
and the chime of shaken bells -
feel us shaking in the light of the dark air.

See us holding each other close,
hungry for love at the foot of the chair
leaving gifts with the emptiness there
bowed to the ground in the arms of the air.

In bed below the skylight of stars
we would have sent our love
across the real, deep and terrible ocean
to the one who would sit in the empty chair.

Darkness Shaking

eyes closed
                      phosphor flashes
          earlobe heartbeat
pillow thunder
                      midnight quiet

prayers over
                      cool sheets
          cloudy blackness
growing deeper
                      sleeping shapes

hands vanished
                      air keening
          distant voices
faces floating
                      glowing weightless

heart racing
                      dizzy bedroom
          thoughts swarming
morning fever
                      darkness shaking

You Felt That Way

dark houses
the burned bones of children
you felt that way

black hole stomach
like an iron universe
exploding

no mercy
for an old yellow rose
in a glass of water

or a girl with her face kicked in
leave them both to die
you felt that way

in your rage for relief
Sartre: iron in the soul
mercury

instead of blood
silverthread pain
let me not feel this way

except
I need to love
an old yellow rose

decayed petals
in a glass of water
I've felt that way

and I prayed
for the ones I love
not to discard me

in my ugliness
dark houses
walking with girl-ghosts

black hole mind
falling into silence
into bare loving arms

it burns me to love
it's not poetry
you felt that way

Rana

because I can't touch her
I translate her

her arms and fingers
are the feel of the wind when I walk

the tired sweetness of her voice
is a yellow rose I found in the road

her kisses are the smooth cold
of the mirror against my forehead

and, crying in bed, she's the soft sleep
embracing me in her mercy

Medium

she wakes
to radiant dark
the sound of her name

whispering faceless
bodies without flesh
she's their lost grace

If my spirit wandered
I'd find her bedside
I'd whisper a prayer:

carry me
out of today's city
out of never sleeping

into your moonbeam
your gates of charity
your tearful dream

Christmas Card

a small boy pushes a reindeer
in a trolley
through a snowy landscape
cartoon-blue night sky
bright smiling moon

his riches in the pocket of his body
his food in the air

careful of dragons
from ancient stories of how and why
patterns in spirals of the I and the I

Washed

woke up from dreams of murder
into tears of the heart and throat,
sobbing into my pillow
on a sleepy, rainy sunday morning
because I'd died, because she was still alive -
she was me, walking home alone, head held high
though washed and wrecked by pain

I remembered my years of forgetting,
of being at war with my own soul -
please god, let that soft touch on my forehead
be the fingertips of the one I love,
invisible, impossible, distanceless -
I'll be crying for everything I ever hoped was true
this joy, this rage, for finally finding you

Antimatter

solar powered, battery free hopeless incompetent hero drowning
partially helpless unclothed mystified you're my freshness and my sight
I'm outside everything, wiping a finger on the window of my dreams
fogged up and freezing, friends and failure, my god helps me to see into
the nighttime dynamo and the whirling metal glacier indigo
I'm not here, I'm not anywhere, I'm not a thing at all
nowhere, nothing, a twist in the sheet metal of the mind, a noise
in the storm of the mind, an image writhing on the surface of the mind's sea
all this is nothing, I need my own voice to come through
not some reflection of the screams and confusion going on in my brain
but my real awareness, how I'd want to speak to god, how I'd want to speak
to my own soul, my own heart, how I'd speak to my mother after this life is over
this is nothing, there's no reason for it, I can't see or hear, like something
not even born, wailing unformed and limbless, egg sac, egg yolk skin and eyes
not that nightmare, something real and ordinary, a fetus, an amniotic teabag
there's no identity here that stays the same across each moment and second
no ghost dancing in my bones, no woman drowning in my mind, no hero
puking into the dark river, no lion raising its paw to pull down
the screen of the universe and bring all pretending to an end
mama mama let me sing before the dark god coughs and the goblin claws my throat out
let me roll in the brambles near the reservoir, let me leave and never come back
fist, throat, name, hand, shoes, walls, sun, sister, road, knife, sky
a new style in the magazines or the third greatest novel in the history
of an insignificant country - another barefoot, smiling guru, another teacher
clawing desperately at a sick blackboard as the faceless students scroll by
on film strip winding around a prayer wheel, a maypole, a stick for entrails
three kilos of quivering calculating brain cereal, bone and meat, leatherbound,
decorated and stamped for approval and processing, rapid insertion into the equation
no purity, no home, no return - halved and quartered and divided until we are sand,
we are dust, we are antimatter, and our burning heals us, our screaming soothes us
I remember how I used to sing, and listen to singing, how I used to shout
when the birds and the frogs in the old garden woke up and the ditches shook
I am just a bag of memory, old stories repeating, sun and moon cycling, blood
in the veins and arteries, a system of systems, words and words and words
trying to find a new way of writing but my mind is empty, nothing comes
India, father, pillars in the evening, sand and kisses, the smell of the dead house
smoke from bodies, slow river, roots of mountains, clear water, the bellow
of an emperor trapped in a dream, horse rotting in a riverbed, flowers in eye sockets
fuck how I love to breathe, to feel it bursting in my stomach and my spine,
that insane loving energy shooting me like a maniac bullet at my own beautiful death

Unzip

If you think you know me today, please,
unzip my skin with your knife;
see if you can stand to see me
unravel before you;
see if you can bear the little sounds
of organs plopping wetly to the ground.

Without my face, who am I
that you love me?
No insides, no outsides, and no shape.
What is the feeling, the thing I call my heart,
when you can see this bloody lump of meat
pumping gently at your feet?

Love, no need to heal, to kiss -
there's no need to be afraid of death.
I know I'll come back stronger,
held together by something even stranger
than this invisible brightness - and then -
we'll cry, and tomorrow, softly, start again -

Rushing Like A Ripple

you can't
write a poem
in the shape of a spiral
curling down
out of the blue
like an aircrash jetstream
like the myth of the boy
who beat a giant
in a contest of strength
because he threw a sparrow -
they both were silent,
watching it curve out of sight -
you can't
write down a tree as it really is -
luminous monochrome in moonlight,
careless colour carousel in sunlight -
you can't
find any words for loving her,
the unbearable emptiness
and fullness of it,
a scream and a tear and a smile

cast together into crystal,
kissed into clear glass
for warping light and time

rushing like a ripple in a river