Love, Poetry, Reading

Book Lovers

Each with his favored arm
made his foray
scorning confections and only sometimes opening a hand
dusted with the crushed stamen
of a hothouse orchid. Walt came bearing small sprouts
at least before his straight-up offer of crotch and vine
while against my throat, Edgar licked
glossed feather. I choked down Eliot’s ragged claws and talk
of Michelangelo, glancing against the vorpal snicker
Carroll carried unsheathed. The graze bared
blood beat and Baldwin fire going the way I dared not ache.
I had barely found my feet and certainly not my sense
when, whispering, Kazuo led me to a corner of the room
I’d never seen and there, Salman with a slow grin
esta-esta-estuttered open his voice in song.

Continue reading “Book Lovers”

Choices, Growing Up

Fill in the Blank

Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.

– Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Is silence, by definition, cowardice?
Impossible. There is no silence in silence, after all. Language is always there, elbowing and grunting its way through the heady determination shut up I’m trying to be quiet of quiet. Thought is all voice. But without throat and tongue to give it an address, where does it land? On the page, perhaps. In the letter she writes with the pen squeezed in her fist but never sends. In the steel echo of a John Lee Hooker song bouncing off the walls of his skull. In the clanging, fists-swinging noise of ideas backed against the ropes. One thought after another dripping sweat, conceived and voiced in some halfway-way.
Courage? Certainly not. But neither is the nascent thesis cowardice. It is something between. Suspension, perhaps. A pause in the action.
Truth needs a shape, though, yes? One can’t just hesitate forever.
She sits across from him, across and far and maybe nowhere near him. The silence is every possible word pushing against the roof of her mouth. Finally, she speaks. “I don’t understand you. You make no sense to me.”
He recoils from her and says, “There is something wrong with you.”
Every other thing, not spoken. Every other statement about everything also right exactly here, unchosen. Every other truth, from the draping leaves of the ceiling-high houseplant to the taste of sourdough still clinging to their fingers. Every other possible scaffolding on which they could build some structure to hold is left there in a heap. Rebar cascades away in waves. It washes offshore when the tide comes in. It drifts to the bottom of the sea.
She says, “I need to catch my breath.”
He says, “Goodbye.”
Language is multiple choice without an “all of the above.” Choosing a word, even if it is only one, is courage. Even if it is the wrong one. Maybe especially then.


Happy 100 Days: 64

Bug’s dad came to whisk him away. For all our square footage here in this house, Tee’s quarters can do a better job keeping our kid safe. He lives in an interior townhouse with a finished basement. When the 50-mph winds strike, they will have a place to go.
I sent my little boy off with his Halloween costume in a bag and a dozen ginger snaps in a tupperware. We made cookies together last night, both of us in our technicolor aprons with wooden spoons in hand. He poured in the molasses and sugar. Measuring out scoops of of flour, he counted his fractions and added the halves together to make wholes. We rolled the batter into balls and dipped them in sugar. The house filled with the smell of cinnamon and clove.
The rain falls and falls. The dog paces. The cat yowls. Plastic sheeting lifts and rattles in its futile attempt to protect the basement from the deluge.
I pull a mattress down to the first floor. The candles are ready, a copy of The Satanic Verses sits on a trunk at the head of my makeshift bed.