Clay Mask

I cover my skin in earth, as if
my skin is not earth
as if little mounds don’t grown from both

both are like space to bugs
or looks

why don’t you respond to me sometimes?
you’ll just sit there, staring, as if
there isn’t a buzzing
you need to cover

as if you won’t fill with ocean
if you stop moving
stop picking at yourself constantly
stop picking yourself

there is fire in your chart, without which
there can be no stone, no earth
yet I am all earth, no fire
I must have come from somewhere

another layer perhaps, deeper than skin
where I generate my own heat
my own light
like a vent that warms the sea

A Formality

it feels like a good time…
candles already lit, so
no presumptuous
candle lighting

some of the hourglass
sand is stuck. I wonder if
this like time, then
throw up my mouth a little

but what place other than
a poem to talk about time?
or sand? or being stuck? plus
I am concerned about my hourglass

it’s meant to be 30 minutes
but with sand stuck to the glass
is it quite? how much
time am I getting?

is it the same sand each time?
or does new time replace it?
it’s hard to tell – I flip it
just to see it buried

the Angel of Forgetfulness
blesses me. The Angel of White
Dimples
rebuilds herself

whole temples in her honor
could this be the time
when all of the sand
falls through? and

Forgetfulness retrieves
her blanket?
will I remember having
said yes to this, this life

and potentially others?
what did I see up there
that meant
enduring a human body

was it your body? It could
have been your body
was it something that needed
to be done?

have I done it?
can I keep doing it? is there any
question but the one I have already
answered yes to…

…is this a good time? 

Missy

Our little girl hears Missy Elliot
on the radio, 95.9 – The Throwbacks
She knows all the words the way
you don’t really, just play the sounds
so when she enunciates GO DOWNTOWN
EAT IT LIKE A VULT-CHA we laugh
She knows that part, in the way that
you don’t really
but she does know vultures
She jumps off the couch and soars
like a vulture. She dries her hair over
her face like a vulture does its wings
She puts her hands up against the light
– a shadow puppet vulture
She is black and furthest away
She sees vultures and takes binoculars
but can’t find them
The light is too bright

After Choking You in My Sleep

the dead must be hungry
the way they present themselves
to me – half a hand out
hollow legs

shrinking then wrapping
the corners as if embarrassed
I would be too

all that work to be dead
& still begging
not that I’m any safer here

stairs
are one of the most
haunted places on Earth. I
could be sitting in a portal, or in the body

of something larger
someone’s work or unrequited love
a prison, the defense
of a choke-point

whatever it is, I feel its interest
it shakes my insides as if
listening for seed

it lands on me when
I’m not careful
forms to vacancies like
an owl to the tree

like your voice to my ear
when I’m sure you’re lying
or is it, when I’m sure
I would have lied

I am the poltergeist
through scatter-gun prayer
through dreams of fame turned
malevolent humility

inside lurks
the big black mass
of ever losing you, especially
to me

Activity

I am writing again, which
feels like the wrong thing
behind me
there are thousands of figures

symbols for lost time
like a chair is not its word
“chair” a person
is not his name

nor is he what he leaves
behind
he is not named
“gunk in corners”

though he resides there
with no need for sitting, writing
now he sinks
where chairs were

leaving behind residue
like ink
on the paper
at night

Return

if you ask me to tell you
the code, I can’t do it
I need it in my hands

like your hands
which I feel and
remember with confidence

remember the world
as it was? a root
protruding from the rock

that you perched on
that lead your heart
into touch out of darkness

improbably to me
the mud where
you fell as a bird

I preserved you
curled myself beneath
your weight and

proudly display
your feathers
and was adorned by you

now we meet again
there’s a bird
in the roof of your mouth

and it’s like we died
enough times
holding the right ally

the ally holding
something of ours
in return

Angel’s Wing

gnats grow white fungus
in my ears
confuse my eyes with pools

they touch me, expand
get used to me
not moving

I try to see their whole bodies
in a way I’ve never seen
my own body

but can feel it

I am up top, pressed
against glass
I am standing too close

to the moon
It goes down my body
to the planet

I try to see its whole body
in a way I have never seen
my own body

but can feel it