Not her peach-skin cheeks or fawn inflection
or stork-throat-loaded breasts or beech-tree thighs,
but the slightest shift of her sundown eyes
was better evidence of the perfection
his wife embodied since the inception
of this experiment so large in size
and scope. So when he saw her turn and rise
to stroke that serpent’s coil, that rejection
cut him quick through the chest. Her honey hands
(reeking of fruit) didn’t reach for him but
wiped her chin then pointed the way out. Why?
What was her sparrow hurry to seize lands
he couldn’t rule, mule-dirt rife with uncut
wood, infant-racket, sun-glare, angry sky?
Semiotics for My Father
What grief to learn
what I call stars
are suns on other planets,
that their names depend
wholly on proximity.
Like the woman I call mother
my father calls your mother.
Your meaning me.
Me being that great distance.
Thirteen Facts About Paul
Paul’s brother died. He was twenty-seven. Paul was thirty-three.
Paul comes to work but often leaves before noon.
If you walk in his office and he is crying
he’ll pick up the phone and start laughing, saying, “that’s too funny.”
His face will be wet as a shipwreck.
Paul knows his brother was murdered but he doesn’t know exactly how.
This keeps him awake to all hours.
The priest told Paul, “knowing, unknowing—it’s all a cloud.”
Paul thinks if there is a spirit world it’s below the earth
because he’ll suddenly feel tapping on his feet.
Under his desk, or standing at a streetlight, Paul taps back.
Paul got the elaborate tattoo on his foot
of his brother’s colors and birth date
because the foot is the most painful place to pulse in the ink.
He sat in the front window facing Bleecker Street
as the crowd gawked and the artist leaned over his bony canvas.
For hours, Paul cried to the city about his brother.