I could see to write you a letter.
Praise the deep lustrous kiss that lasts minutes,
blossoms into what feels like days, fields of tulips
glossy with dew, low purple clouds piling in
beneath the distant arch of a bridge. One
after another they storm your lips, each kiss
a caress, autonomous and alive, spilling
into each other, streams into creeks into rivers
that grunt and break upon the gorge. Let the tongue,
in its wisdom, release its stores, let the mouth,
tired of talking, relax into its shapes of give
and receive, its plush swelling, its slick
round reveling, its primal reminiscence
that knows only the one robust world.
As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who loves me?
you are completely screwed, because
the next question is How Much?
and then it is hundreds of hours later,
and you are still hunched over
your flowcharts and abacus,
trying to decide if you have gotten enough.
This is the loneliest job in the world:
to be an accountant of the heart.
It is late at night. You are by yourself,
and all around you, you can hear
the sounds of people moving
in and out of love,
pushing the turnstiles, putting
their coins in the slots,
paying the price which is asked,
which constantly changes.
No one knows why.
The mapmaker downed his tools.
I’ve caught it, every alley, every street,
every fanlight and window-ledge,
the city fixed and framed.
Now I want everything else.
I want to be a historian of footsteps,
a cartographer of hemlines and eyelids,
I want to catch what the pavements say
when they sing to each other
in their deep laboratories, plotting
every journey since the place began.
I want the whole
unlosable database, the repeating place,
kings stalking the server farms,
tailbacks and looped alarms,
I want to be where
brushstrokes flicker on a bank of screens,
where graveyards tilt
and quiet populations crowd the air,
their quarters risen again
smashing through the floors.
I want to stand at the centre
of a great clutter
mapping ashes, mapping bones,
archivist, enumerator, hanger-on
signing the returns
of an infinite census.
I want to be,
beyond everything I’ve reached or drawn,
not much at all, or all there is,
a geographer of breath,
a curator of hands.
I want to lie in the atrium
of the museum of the fingertip
and touch, touch, touch.
In love, his grammar grew
rich with intensifiers, and adverbs fell
madly from the sky like pheasants
for the peasantry, and he, as sated
as they were, lolled under shade trees
until roused by moonlight
and the beautiful fraternal twins
and and but. Oh that was when
he knew he couldn’t resist
a conjunction of any kind.
One said accumulate, the other
was a doubter who loved the wind
and the mind that cleans up after it.
he wanted to break all the rules,
light a candle behind a sentence
named Sheila, always running on
and wishing to be stopped
by the hard button of a period.
Sometimes, in desperation, he’d look
toward a mannequin or a window dresser
with a penchant for parsing.
But mostly he wanted you, Sheila,
and the adjectives that could precede
and change you: bluesy, fly-by-night,
queen of all that is and might be.
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.