Nice Lips (for Timothy Cummings)

Well, I really don’t believe she–wait a sec–
Just a few strokes to darken an eye,
Maybe a prick of pain in the corner . . . there!
Uh-huh, she told me all about it. Crazy lady.

Mmmm. What do you think? Blood or a butterfly?
A newspaper hat? Well, I’m moving away from narrative,
Black backgrounds now which are full of–
Why’s she like that? I dunno, maybe childhood.

Can you spot the portrait? It looks like her,
But it isn’t. It’s me. I mean it’s my friend Clay.
I only paint myselves which are other people.
Wanna watch a documentary and make out?

 

Formula for Waking Dreams

Mix a bag of unbleached flour,
water still milky from the tap
and brittle, yellow pages
that slip their binding.

Daub the mixture thick
on a wire frame tangled
as a snarl of hair.
When it hardens, this will be

your altar. Spill wine
along its scabby backbone.
Scatter seed at its misshapen
feet, and as the earth slips from under
the sun’s oppressive eye, you’ll see

why no face is many,
and your form is not dry at all

but molten.

Taxidermy

say something say something
cram my mouth with crumpled words
stuff my chest cavity with paper
anything to fill me up give me shape
ever since I pulled the gods
from my belly my hide’s begun to sag

say something say something
any answer as long as it is broad
enough to fill the gap between stars
strong enough to bridge the space
between a nucleus and electron
an open question is the mouth of death
any answer to stop the asking

A Poem Dangerously about Itself

word

Isn’t “word” a weird word,
something blind and burrowing?
Where’s it going? Why so blunt?
What’s it looking for? Itself?

These shapes, these sounds, how
do they mean what I mean
them to mean? I mean
this group of words does

not make meaning nor a poem, yet
if I could turn these lines
against themselves, this line would be
invalidated and oh so very. What?
Full of itself, full of its emptiness?
Either way, it’s not a good beginning
for a poem, a poem meant, as I am,
to express itself. The poem totters on a single

that seems to mean and misses itself,
as I miss you, meaning, I miss myself,
meaning, I miss the point of wanting to express
myself, beginning and ending, as I do, upon a

word.