Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The B.T. Encyclopedic Entry on Longing

It isn’t what it used to be. The throngs of shadows from the tetradactylic sky made us uneasy, reminded us of the shapes of Things-Before: four score and so many years ago, we longed richly, longed like the longers of old. Consider Longfellow, thus named for his rhymed-yearnings. Longfellow knew a good longer when he tried one, the bouquet of it just-so, and the good legs it hung down the sides of a goblet. Alexandre Dumas, a longer like no longer. And Proust, and so on. These days, no longer is a good longer. Better no impact, be able, as my friend says, to insert some platypus lasagna anywhere and lose nothing and when I speak, Friends, of monkey juggling, let me say that it matters not whether I refer to that unkind sport of primate-as-bowling-pin or if I mean to say that a monkey steps on a stage and spins four chainsaws in the air, three torches of fire and we all applaud. The juggler, the juggled, nevermind. We’re in the midst of defining (and by defining, I mean dismissing,) longing as the plaything of mortals, of the tender-hearted, the bleeding hearts, the hearts-on-sleeved who hurt when they want a thing, love a thing, lose a thing. I mean to say: longing is for losers, anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tulipe Noir: As the Cosmic Hand Reaches for the Light

Like a tarantula at a square dance, I felt unwelcome.
Like a memory hanging off a bridge, precarious.
This week has the breath of a six-day’s dead wino
This town isn’t big enough for this brand of make-believer.
I felt as gold and as rusty as the sweat-corroded trinkets
on bellydancer’s waist. I drank from the flask
You’re no sunset, Dollface. You’re Sunset after hours.
a dark Merlot. I said harmony and you heard harming me
and there we had the way to go, Pigeon. This city’s seen
the last of you, gumshoe. The stars were like dewdrops
on the side of a windshield of a car left for dead
on the shoulder. The body in the trunk was as folded tidy
as a suitcase packed by a new bride. We wore blue velvet
and shiny loafers. We wore carnations in our buttonholes
like bulletholes blooming from the sides of our chests.
We were not big enough for this town, for both of us.
We’re as gone as vaudeville, as late as ever, as unwieldy
as a fish half-caught, as lost as us.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wet T-Shirt Contest at the Black Tulip

Never have we given so much
thought to the body before,

then I joined that gritty, hardcore
gym and we worked out amongst

the pumped and perhaps-pumped
full of steroids and just today

the “naturals” weighed in, urinated
in the presence of a judge to assure

us that her taut frame was self-taught
not a synthetic synthesis from muscle

to tone. Our tone today is mellow,
our tone today is slack, not low

but leaning like a flower thirsting
for something to shake the eros

back into it. We spy the flyer
and the promise of water

to thin fabric, telling the secrets
of the form underneath. Midnight

rolls around, we return to see what
the transparency of water can teach

us about what we ask be revealed
just to keep concealed what we need.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Black Tulip Brogue

Once there was a way to get back homeward; once there was a way to get back to the ranch,
Meanwhile, the tulips are curling into themselves against the chill. Meanwhile, I am not going
to Scotland anytimesoon. I am not going to Anytimesoon for the swanky beachfront bacon boys,
nor the souvenirs that appear along the esplanade glued hastily, their tartans showing a swath
of plastic thigh that appears quite nearly obscene in this light: neither Scottish nor tropical.
I am not working on my Gaelic, and not priming my bikini bod for the view. I'm missing my planes.
Maps upset me, as do globes, spin them, scan them and what you'll find are the million places
where I won't be tonight. I sang a solo to the radiator and it sputtered a sick reply.
Someone asked about my whereabouts then so did I. So did I.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Black Eye, Fat Lip, Gas-Station Doghouse Roses

Randomly you occur to me;
during rain against the skylight
or seepage in the crawlspace,
During February, May or days bright
Your fingers swift to the dimmer switch.
Maybe you see me in the grocery line:
drowning in debt or gourmet coffee-beans,
my tears, or the vague drownings that fill
my lungs daily like slot machines
and find me heavy with coinage
anchored by fortune

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Otherwise they Go Unsung
Black Tulip in Love


Sometimes a simile
Finds her vehicle before tenor
(An opera singer in a corvette)
And she’s off and running like
A race horse on amphetamines
Like amphetamines on a race horse
Like this is speed with hooves
And spark, his leaving and her insides
Race around the small plastic track
like a matchbox car with a rocket-engine
like it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
and your ringtone should be emerald-cut.
She is just now inside herself, wondering,
Wandering like a child lost in a mall
Or a grown-she lost in the parking terrace
At the airport, walking level four for miles
Certain, so certain, that was where she left
The car, then recalling no, his favorite number
And the car, parking neatly on three
Waited under her preferred digit.
Because he’s leaving, the city’s gold light
Seems jaundiced, a tarnished star
Where sunlight coated the newly-planted
Tomatoes, the basil and mint arching
Towards his reach. His, a gardner’s patience,
Her’s a love for the gardener and so, for the plants,
She will tend them like preemies,
And today, someone’s birthday shivers
in the parking space of the calenders
everywhere, stretched out on walls,
sprawled on desks, tucked into
cell phones and wallets, the days
splayed out like soft porn.
In the black tulip of her heart,
he reigns and he is wanted,
she cries out and he returns.
They free the small yellow
Airplane from the d├ęcor,
Fly it out--straight out
The westerly windows of the airport
And into the sunset of the best
Of their lives. For a water landing
An inflateable slide down into
Clean, folded laundry,
excellent coffee, for drowning
One calls out throw me a lifetime
and the other never fails to comply.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Since True Black Tulips Never Die
& the Sabotage is a Perennial


So we decided today wasn’t my day to find you.
Then we decided to abandon our children,
the ones with abandonment issues, the ones
that felt cocky and overloved, the ones
we never liked too much and the ones
we loved better than our limbs (our each
precious hand held tenderly in each others’
caged fingers) became the bird whose neck
we snapped and left in the alley frequented
by the most stray cats. It follows that
we decided to wear our hearts on our sleeves
then donate all our shirts to charity.
If our methods were suspect, our reasons were sound.
We decided to find in favor of light travel and wanderlust,
against all keeping, against further loss.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

City Like a Sukkoth Empty and Forlorn

but clean, like the words dew and refresh.
Or the cantor's voice this morning, clear
as winter-air, the crispness to twilight
shaken off Miriam's tambourine, a circle-moon
skirted in metallic leaves clang a music--steel,
and that word--steel too, clean, clean,
clean as a wiped-down kitchen.

Like the spaces between us yield
to the black tulip hour when we remember us
pure as the day before we met, unmoved.
Our fingers yet to leave their eternal vortex
of prints swirling off that rock thrown
on the puddle of us that first time we spoke.
Disinfected, we're no longer
a crime scene, dust anything and find
that no skin cell, no hair or spit
contaminates our caesura of no longer here
nor there, so sanitized, antiseptic, it’s nearly disgusting.

But I’m meditating on cleanliness
and we’re in the midst of Passover,
the metaphor inherent too easy,
too done, and there is nothing
more immaculate than the perfect
blonde haystack of coconut macaroons,
the scent of them too, like summer
and beaches. Someone from Israel
sings in a pitch that defines the clean
but nothing so much as a very old man resting
his head against the Torah’s scroll,
eyes closed, looking like a small boy
again fallen asleep during the service,
muffled as the first day of heavy snow,
rests safe against the certain purity of the word.


Dingy as the Black Tulip Hour Dims in

How little we’ve considered
pirates these last few years
until now. Then we radio
them in and they are both
contemporary and the pirates
we imagine, eye-patched, with parrots,
and so on. We’re packing up
around the aquarium, the fish
slide back and forth in the peripheral,
where their small treasure chest
breathes in and out, the plastic gold
of doubloons, spilled strand of pearls,
the tiny skeleton lounging as if bubble-bathing,
his plastic bones cleansed on the rubies, emeralds,
and rhinestones and I consider the pillage
and remember you, Sister, your shampooed hair, unrinsed
and-crackling-dry as we talked and talked ourselves
away from that bad night, each word a brick between us
and the sandpaperdoll we’d ground ourselves against
the bitter truth, against the planetary-grime
shaped like a man (who was no man) and whose dark garden
bloomed cruel blossoms but we picked them, dried
them and from those seeds found that what is buried
breathing dirt, scooting the ground out of the way
in search of a window of sky, and far from subway rats
and city mice, a year of hard-rain grew
this good harvest, this hard-won crop.

for V, again

Monday, April 06, 2009

Black Tulips Grown in Missing Gardens

Places lost to us or places we go to do our losing,
mourn our lost. Statues there, and on good days
they’re not us. I say it but I don’t mean it—not today.

I’ve hurt myself at least three different ways
and I’m missing nine-hundred things or more.
I lost my rent check, my willpower, my way.

I’m missing the sycamore, the ill-love
at the root of it, the someone who told
me if you rub the bark, it releases

the scent of vanilla. Then a someone to magicize trees,
to see features: each crease on that old man’s face
risen true from the oak. The someone to see the dice

of expressions on faces framed in windows
from a faraway train. (His voice the only voice
that makes me cry.) I’ve hurt myself three times

today and counting, but nothing like memory:
the bamboo fence, our saint-rabbit’s grave
robbed, the dainty-bones gone and what gave

anyone the right to take them away? The painted stone
we placed there to mark the place--gone
too--and who knew how cruel any one

season might be? I miss it. Most of all on days
like today, where the snow follows sun follows snow
again and I don’t know if what I’m missing

is what I miss or the other way or if I’ve just braced myself
as the tulips have closed their mouths before they can say:
You invited us. Why treat us this way?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Black Tulip Hour at Our Cottage

If a time were a place then this
would be utopia. We might be
married, our cottage with its grass
roof keeps the weathers audible
but in their place. Our place
is daily and each other,
where flowers can be soot-dark
as the throw-pillows of charcoal
briquet on which we Sunday-grill
our garden’s skewered harvest:
the sexy tomatoes in their sheaths
of olive oil, their oregano trinkets,
the cavernous peppers, hollow
and hopeful, and the yellow squash
like suns within suns and blooming.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Kenny the Cat, I Mean,
Explained Over the Cheap
Bottle of Gato Negri
As Poured for Us Repeatedly
At the Black Tulip Hour


He cries like he cried
when I was reading Henry James.
Professional weepers
by now, and the library
fears us like southerners
fear a powder-sugar-French-toast
-dusting-of-snow.
I am not saying the librarians
buy up all the milk and eggs
and leave the grocery
looking robbed. I am saying
that they bring in sand bags
and move the rarest books
to higher ground. That first
edition Dumas signed, for example.
We’re allowed nowhere near that section,
and yet, shouldn’t the entire library
be ashrug with sobs? The tragedy,
the gorgeousness, all gathering in a folding wave
of the unbearable ache of the glorious
uses of language to bring us: flowers, countries, back
to life. A thank you for being
this species to sing this string
of words taught to us so young
we could barely guess what we meant
by promises that contained four witches upright,
or prayers that suggested death before waking
and someone told me just yesterday
that what Sylvia Plath was missing was God
and dear fellow follower of the words
I thought of us: full of Christmas cookies
and writing about a year lousy with meteors.
How we escape however we can in the black tulip
hour, his needles, her pills, our sugar highs and lows,
the dresses we put in our virtual shopping carts
only to have them pillaged in the night.
Cindy, I almost knew your father:
years-gone before I even met you,
and on his birthday, when we dined
at our favorite Chinese cafe in his honor,
I felt he saw you somehow, sees you:
wonder, toy-hearted, a mind sharp
as his warnings about a world
he could barely trust with his girl.
We had helped each other farewell
so much, by then: your father goodbye,
your love goodbye, and me, newly-wrenched
from what I thought was certain love.
The story was the same when we left
for new distant towns months ago, only the lovers
were swapped out for new ones to leave or leave us
and we wrote back and forth, to remind us
how to move, how to do anything
not to hurt him, anything not to hurt.

Incidentally, I don’t know where the rest
of my life went, but this morning,
it’s Sunday, early spring, and outside
my window, I spy a man
teaching his daughter
how to ride a sky-blue bicycle
with a basket, plastic-flowered,
with streamers, and there is only
that first bike, father’s hand: solid-lightly
on the small of the back, believing
us into feeling it there still
when, holding his breath,
and her balance with just
the muscular-wish of his gaze,
a ghost-hand lingers, steadying
and she rides away still with him
with every push on the pedal,
every sparkling-spit of silver
off the spokes, the planet,
the daylight-saved clock
everything that spins,
spin-certain, spin.

for Chicky

Friday, April 03, 2009

Boston Review

Me and Chicky!

Happy Hour at The Black Tulip

The problem with drinking
revolves around honesty.
Around a devoted lush
we hear our faults itemized
later, incanted, the repetition
pared-down to a word
(usually compound) forehead,
bad-kiss, monobrow, mushmouth,
disbeliever, deadboylover, pigeon
but not always. But then
the booze/truth runs out
and there’s no way of knowing
what’s wrong with us.
The liquor inside us lies
Tells us we’re profound
When really we’re just drunk,
Not deep, but deepening
To the shade of dark
Indecisive as that flower.

At the black tulip hour
the minds dribbles the ball
Up and down the court
of possibility and there’s
no fairer place to play
save for yesterday
which is an etch-a-sketch
we shake out at whim
and re-begin. The clouds
not portabella, not straw,
not wood, nor shitake,
not wild. Just clouds
stuck bulbous against
a one-dimensional sky.
At the black tulip hour
We’ve said enough
about the sky. The problem
with dreamers is evident.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Outside The Black Tulip

Three a.m. and you’re smoking, Dear,
(and so am I). One shared-cigar
and music--something extravagant
romantic, pours from a bag lady's
mouth as her handcart jumps fish-silver
at the sidewalk's buckled vertebrae
where the Chinese New Year tunneling
underground marches the dragon's collaborative
concrete spine to the end of the block.
Outside The Black Tulip we collect
our affections like rainwater
and then hold the canteen
of each other for the certain thirst.
We treat our love like our houseplants,
making them wait so long,
they slouch toward the sink
before we finally give in
and hand them a drink.

Inside the black tulip:
night-lit, visceral, every color of hurt,
of scabs, the dried injury’s memory
of what it meant to tear open,
a space like that within praying hands.
Inside the black tulip, a small room
where a tiny family might gather
around the dollhouse television
as if it were a fire. The president
might present the queen with an i-pod
and we’d think it surreal only here,
where the black tulip chimes
the hour of Plato’s worst fears,
to name a thing is to make it possible,
to make it possible invites the lie.
Outside The Black Tulip, our breath
braids tequila and rum, and someone
tells someone of how today the queen
was given an i-pod by the president
and for a minute, in another realm, Plato
and Einstein raise their glass across
the mushroom clouds of paradise
as an imaginary family inside an imaginary
flower, grown in an imaginary (impossible)
shade of night, points their imaginary
remote control at their tiny screen
and shuts our whole world down.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Black Tulip Hour

When time and thyme--equally concrete
or abstract might flavor or exact
the same rhyme from life to recipe
The nun’s warning :the sin thought
the deed wrought and you,
you were such a beautiful poem
before I wrote you,such a gorgeous dress
hanging in the closet where some nights
I dream fantastic fabric, bicycling birds,
seahorse florals even that tulip: midnight
satin, not the maroon lanterning
off the queen of the night varietal
but Dumas-dark and holding