Because speaking to the dead is not something you want to do
When you have other things to do in your day
Like take out the trash or use the vacuum
In the edge between the stove and cupboard
Because the rat is everywhere
Or more so walking
And it doesn’t even notice you
It has its own intentions
And is searching for that perfect bag of potato chips like you once were
Because life is no more important than eating
Or talking someone into fucking
Or talking someone into something
Or sleeping calmly and soundly
And all you can hope for are the people who put that calm in you
Or let you go into it with dignity
Because poetry reminds you
That there is no dignity
You just muddle through and for what
Jack Jack you wrote to him
You wrote to all of us
I wasn’t even born
You wrote to me
A ball of red and green shifting sparks
In my parents’ eye
You wrote to me and I just listened
I listened I listened I tell you
And I came back
Poetry is hard for most people
Because of sound
Her life is the wire—she can never come down.
Sometimes she stops and sits on it to eat,
even sleeps there, her whole body stretched
as the wire is stretched. In sleep
she keeps her balance,
feet curled like a monkey’s
the habit of grasping:
she has never fallen.
She never will, not entirely.
Once in a while a slip
causes her to hang for a moment by her hands.
It isn’t the danger of falling that slices through her dreams
but the wire itself, drawing
a line through her body,
leaving a mark on the soles of her feet,
her buttocks, her back.
If she were to cut the wire (she dreams of this)
the sky would break like a mirror into the sea
and nothing would be whole again.
Virgin of the Apocalypse standing on a crescent moon,
she is keeping
Heaven and Earth apart.
When foxes eat the last gold grape,
And the last white antelope is killed,
I shall stop fighting and escape
Into a little house I’ll build.
But first I’ll shrink to fairy size,
With a whisper no one understands,
Making blind moons of all your eyes,
And muddy roads of all your hands.
And you may grope for me in vain
In hollows under the mangrove root,
Or where, in apple-scented rain,
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit.
begin long before you hear them
and gain speed and come out of
the same place as other words.
They should have their own
place to come from, the elbow
perhaps, since elbows look
funny and never weep. Why
are you proud of me? I said
goodbye to you forty times.
I see your point. That is
an achievement unto itself.
My mom wants me to write
a goodbye poem. It should fit
inside a card and use the phrase,
“You are one powerful lady.”
There is nothing powerful
about me though you might
think so from the way I spit.
I don’t want to say goodbye
to you anymore. I heard
the first wave was an accident.
It happened in the Cave
of the Hands in Santa Cruz.
The four of them were drinking
and someone killed
a wild boar and someone else
said, “Hey look, I put my hand
in it. Saying goodbye is like that.
You put your hand in it and then
you take your hand back.
translated by forrest gander
Nothing’s in the nest. No needles. No newborn ravens.
Maybe something like night in the deep hollow,
an eggshell planet, cracked in the middle, an empty bowl of soup.
Nothing’s in the nest. No thread. No webs of words.
Maybe something like my navel, the eclipse of a magnifying glass.
A slice, mute with regard to its empty depths.
In the nest, nothing. The web unwoven. Dismembered.
In the space, something, yes. A piece of cloth. Sounding like flags
taking wing, a worm in its beak and suddenly, eyes, my eyes
which, cutting across the empty air, direct themselves at something noiseless over there.
At school he studies the human body:
aorta, valve, muscle, vein.
At home he redesigns it
out of cardboard and twine
until it looks like a coat he might hang
on a hook with other missing coats.
But now it’s raining
below the greener clouds
of trees that were absorbent
but only up to a point.
And these raindrops
strained by treetops
should (you would think)
be filtered and finer
and therefore pure
(and not Chinese
fatter, darker drops
that always pick out
of all possible bull’s-eyes
your bald spot).
But these are late, last drops
and a little bloated
like late, last poems
by name your poet.