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g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
If there is nothing
behind the music and music
behind the nothing and nothing
and so on,
then at least the baby’s breathing.
Like an agitated bratwurst
or an old man’s ear.
He needs no dream
because the memory of cell
division still counts off in his head.
If he’s nearly beside himself,
it’s because he’s not there yet.
If he screams we wipe him dry.
The nights are getting bigger.
Sometimes I wish I had a telescope
mounted on my rocking chair,
an open window
and some general sense
of Aldeberan’s whereabouts.
The three of us will never be big enough.
Having rearranged ourselves --
black egg, white semen --
we have seen that civilization,
if nothing else, is singing
to assure its young
that between our best efforts
and the universal eyelid, there’s a yellow
bellied red bird, a plum tree and a bear.
Lear was a man of the world.
Lear was a Lear Jet entering
a triangle worse than Bermuda,
a nude, outdated jet adrift
in an atonal symphony
of guts and ham sandwiches.
The world wants our insides back.
The planet only wants our skin.
When I was six my sister rubbed
a dandelion on my forehead.
I was yellow
which meant that I secretly loved girls.
The flower was smeared with dead skin cells
which meant I was falling apart.
My shoe was untied.
Every time I tried to say my abc’s
the l-m-n-o-p bunched up like a bully’s fist.
I gave my sister a punch on the arm
and the wild finches scattered.
Finch on the telephone line.
Finch in the tomcat’s mouth.
Soft finch adrift in the wind x ten.
Whispering finch in my head x the yellow-grey
of a summer storm.
Still, the night disintegrates
lovely in its lesser attributes:
the wind, the lack of definition,
overfed raccoon and tactless moth
offering its body up to something
other than flame.
are famous for even less.
Though the best lives have all been lived,
we make the rent and have enough
left over for flat champagne in a paper cup.
She touches me
with her hand
and then the letter “z.”
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