my shelter is the myometrium of a woman.
i am a placenta-wet baby, pink in the face, unable to breathe, crawl, or scream.
this is an alcohol-induced seizure.
i am twenty eight years old and have a sixty-six percent chance of dying.
the sirens wail. flashing ambulance lights fill my pupils like rushing rain water weighs down loose canopy.
i re-awake in the emergency room with no memory of how the night passed, or why i’d become so reckless.
temporarily i am frightened, self-loathing, cold. i am a dog with no owner to claim my ashes should i die.
in the morning i feel nothing in particular.
a pair of doctors condescendingly scold me for losing my place at the half-way house.
for now i am homeless.
my clothing and body have been cleaned of bile.
my cigarettes, photo id, and pocket knife are arranged on an aluminum night-stand.
“free to leave”
the reading streets swell like a bubble of dried blood, the swarm of mongers form one body the way cells create a fabric of skin. i am wounded, i ache, my skeleton shrinks and expands, i am insatiable. i pray.
my home is a red duffel bag i carry on my back, which i unfold like a tent beneath a creek-stone archway on sixth street, where vehicular traffic is no longer allowed, and where over the course of an hour i blow on the tip of a black man’s curved penis in exchange for a night and morning’s worth of ativan i crush with the handle of the knife and snort from underneath my overgrown pinky nail.
it is mid-winter, but the city street is remarkably warmer than i expect. the sky is a mud puddle devoid of star and moon. boys with puerto-rican accents are playing futbol in a field of slushing snow, their voices exhausting to incoherent murmurs, like the unsteady hum of a turned down radio. my mouth is dry. i feel snake-bitten. i relax like a corpse, wrapped in a chrysalis of sheets and blankets.
once upon a time i was a poet, like a shaman with no tradition, spelunking the dyed caves of my proto-hominid heart. i investigated stone-carved artifacts and, with resurrected spirits to guide me by lantern light, imposed meaning upon random arrangements.
this is how i became receptive to the vast external, and engendered ecstasy.
time. my destroyer. my body dissolves and forces my poetic spirit to escape the genocide of the drug.
i walk a windy path from the city of reading.
bask in a pre-dawn glow.
the mountains, pale blue during the day, are indigo like the chapped faces of american slaves.
once upon a time i cast a shadow
once upon a time i held a reflection
these were my best and closest friends.
perfectly entwined lovers, whose love i secretly coveted, and so vowed to annihilate.
i lacked compunction for the murder of my secondary and tertiary selves. i lacked compunction when i left no evidence my spirit imbued a body, my body imbued a soul.
what is the sound of a sunrise? i hear sirens, police cars and ambulance. take me to the hospital, i’m sick again.
the city of reading is dark now, in the daytime. the streets clutter with soundless people. at the bus stops, filthy with starbucks, pretzel factor wrappers, lak graffiti. this is a reading of sorts. i peer down at the time: seven in the morning. i am supposed to be on my way from one job to another, but i’ve abandoned both. miserable places. the boss at the warehouse said i’m through, and he calls the shots. go home and sleep, he said. it’s true i don’t sleep very much. not for weeks now.
on my wrist are little stick drawings, little heads with stilts for legs. we are holding hands. i think you drew them when we met. i retrace them every day in dark ink. you call them lammy and kayla. i believe they’re cute, or they used to be.
like you, they are as i imagine them now, and perhaps nothing like this when you drew them. i have a good memory but my memory doesn’t serve me. for how long did you say you’d be away? somehow you are in my home, in my heart and among my books, the tufts of sheets. in my home, and never meant to leave. this is torture. i can’t sleep because i imagine your scent on the linens. i wash the sheets in pouring rain, i’ve washed them several times. and will it rain, again tonight? you left me a note in french, but i speak no french.
the clouds will disperse with rain. it’s rained every day for two weeks. i hang beneath the archway for a while but the street’s become ugly. shadows cling to the pile of carhaarts and thermal underwear, ceramic shards of coffee cups swiped from the 9th street cafe.
each day opens like a raw scab, in reverse. “time is no healer; the patient is no longer here,” wrote eliot -and you carried the quartets the day we met, uttering how it’s the prettiest prayer you’d ever read. but i have to confess: my wounds are no christian wounds. this is no stigmata. in our dance, i cannot lead, only follow. like a dog lost and big-eyed, i sniff the trails and tracks of the places you used to roam.
the library, rundown and sad. teachers stand in mud puddles as if rooted trees climbing from a snake-like river, unmoving and unmovable in the drifting walls of rain. i slosh upstairs and down, my head tilted low around other people.
impossibilities compel me. you are not here like you were.
i stare at a book until the clerks lead me out and i skulk into the night. a strong wind sweeps away the clouds, revealing a white ash moonlight.
if kayla is a spirit and a body, she and i may still share a soul.
i am drifting. over slick black streets. golden and disparate lights glow under a dense fog. i float through el barrio: rime with the dogs barking, rime with the children crying, flit to the red light blinking green light yellow red light blinking.
memory is a fog now too. sit down.
there is a church with a jesus sculpture. he is as gentle as a lamb. what is it you want me to do?
i am piping but there is no dance.
“darkness is god / nothing distinct”
i care no more about god than my own body. i want you if it destroys me.
in the silhouetted willows of the park at night, i conjure your locks of hair, flattened in the wind. benches and cigarettes. i sit and i stand. i pace and patrol the alleys. i follow our footsteps, those when we were younger. i erase our steps so i can retrace them again. i follow our steps again. i watch kayla while i follow the steps again. she watches me retrace the steps, then somehow soon sleep embraces me.
what do you want me to do for you? says jesus, as gentle as a lamb.
i am a person
am i not a human being
how would romantic love fit into god’s mosaic, my weeping friend?
how am i happier without you than i am without her?
should i desire anything, or anyone?
sleepless night bad dark eyes caves brown blue green i change as you tell me to. something in my blood knows what you want.
hope is intangible: i cannot observe hope in any form. and when i cling to the intangible, i always end with nothing.
if i feel no pain now, may i say the same of love?
kayla washes off my arm, for the rain’s come again. i am left paralytic beneath the alley bridge like a heap of laundry. and every time i close my eyes, i find you. was there ever a wonder i’d so soon pray to you? for you? my eyes close. you. i want you here, so i’ve brought you here, i beg for you. you’re with me in all ways. i beg. i will close my eyes and allow the darkness. i will be abused by poverty. i will go hungry. i will piss myself, and drink until my eyelids flutter and the eyes bulge and swell from their sockets. kayla is gone and somehow she will have to return.
can you find me again, love? for you i am homeless