to 5

    on the 5ives




It started out as two poets flexing their writerly muscles.
Dueling banjos.
                    spring crashed into summer
                    late last night with an amazing
                    electrical storm I wish I could have
                    saved for you.
                    It reached me.
                    For the past 24 hrs.
                    I have been
                    writing obsessively
                    about storms.

I began to sense a body of work emerging from the correspondence.
History is full of such examples.

The correspondence was fruitful and brought us closer to wholeness.
(I would like to return to those times.) We became mutual muses.
But then, muscles relaxed and what modesty struggles to keep concealed
was let loose,
                    i have known 54 year olds.
                    have seen their graying hair
                    and broken backs,
                    their battles on all fronts.

                    have seen the way they wear
                    experience like layers of cologne.
                    these are men who know how to waltz.
                    you're so handsome,
                    I can't take it!
                    i have known 33 year olds
                    have seen them upside down
                    tying knots around my ribs
                    like fingers clawing at forever
                    oh, jesus....

and like the waxy-petaled hedges in the courtyard here,
                    al, take some some good bread,
                    well buttered,
                    cinnamon-sugar on top—smell of gardenia
                    something like that:
                    spicy, warm, luscious

and the iris deep blue in the glade of striped maple there,
love bloomed.
                    Such a turn-of-the-century romance,
                    We're so 90's, aren't we?
                    except for temperature and humidity
                    we know little
                    beyond our imagination
                    of you me and this
                    If I were one of those
                    frou-frou drinks
                    with the little umbrellas
                    at that Polynesian place
                    on Route 1 in Saugus,
                    I'd be the "Kamikaze".
                    What kind of frou-frou drink are you?
                    i'd be the suffering bastard.
                    your inconsistency alarms me.
                    Al, You want consistency?
                    I'll show you consistency!
                    Tuesday, meatloaf;
                    Friday, fish;
                    Saturday, intercourse;
                    Sunday, mass.
                    There—-happy now?

You see me as a free radical because I can jump orbits
and be located in two places at once. Maybe you'd like me
better if I were a neutrino, a nonexistent particle,
with no mass or charge.

I'm a real physical object, even though I cannot be isolated.
I come in six flavors: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom.
Yeah, I'm a crazy little quark. Chaos in Khaki.
You seem to have a slower metabolism.
What kind of sub-atomic particle are you?
                    top heavy.
                    bottom sweet.
                    oh, jesus...
                    Alchemist, you boil me down!

                    Your writing besots me,
                    so simple and spare,
                    almost Japanese,
                    like my Russian grandmother's
                    nesting wooden dolls,
                    humble seeming yet
                    containing multitudes, or
                    like the Land O'Lakes butter box,
                    picture of an Indian Princess holding
                    a butter box with a picture of an Indian Princess holding...

                    Your writing is like
                    the night sky
                    in Nova Scotia in winter.
                    The stars come out
                    and keep coming out:
                    Infinity plus one!

I brought you a little War Rug to use as a mouse pad.
I ended up giving it to your wife.
First she held it backwards, then upside down.
I flipped it and righted it for her and she exclaimed,
"Ooh! A lady bug! Cute!"

"Actually," I told her, "it's a hand grenade.
It was made in Afghanistan during the war with Russia."

"But it looks just like a lady bug."

"Hand grenade."

"It all depends on your point of view," she said, as if we had
agreed to disagree.

But some things are non-negotiable, like socks.
It is not easy to find acrylic argyles up there, which are your favorites.
You gave us each a pair, so touching. Then you gave us a table
you made yourself. The table has no legs, to me it is an altar,
the kind they leave fruit and flowers on in Japanese shrines.
You gave me some pressed flowers from your garden.
You gave my husband a small vial of blue lotion from your own
personal batch of after-shave. What am I to read into that?

Walter Benjamin wrote, "A criminal career is a career like any
other." You stole my typewriter, infiltrated my mind, abducted my body,
vandalized my heart, and at certain moments, usurped my own personal
sovereignty but still, are neither thief, nor rapist, but a saint.

Sometimes St. Mary Magleden, Patron of Wayward Wives,
sometimes St. Edward, The Confessor.

You are like a technological innovation, something I never needed, but
once experienced, I wonder how I ever got by without it. You're a real
bitch, a moist insatiable wench, you muse me.

You asked me what I want. I told you just this: a moment of grace. Then I
changed my mind and told you that I didn't want much, only to suck the
marrow from your bones. It would have taken the devil incarnate to satisfy
me, but you turned out to be an angel.
                    Imago Mine,
                    Was love for you at first
                    a continual toothache of the heart?
                    In later years did it become
                    a mild annoyance?

                    The sun visor is an
                    old beloved car:
                    You flip it up
                    in order to see clearly
                    as you drive off into
                    the rest of your life
                    but it keeps falling
                    how do you know everything?
                    Because I'm smart, well-educated,
                    and I don't live in East Bumfuck!
                    (I live in Far East Bumfuck.)
                    But there is more to it than that.

                    If I know things
                    it is because
                    you read the rocks,
                    I read you.

"I don't believe in fairy tales", you said.
"I do", I told you. I have to.

Some fairy tales remind me,
writes Czeslaw Milosz,
of driving at night
and having a hare jump
in the path of the car.

The hare had been
going somewhere but
has now lost
its train of thought.

The hare doesn't know
how to get out of
the beams of light
so it runs straight ahead.

I am interested in
the kind of philosophy
that would be useful
to that hare
trapped in that moment
in those headlights.
                         what you
                         can't supply
                         is what
                         fairy tales
                         always have:
                         an ending.

Having met the Thief off-line makes for a new interpretation.
I wish I had read him more carefully, especially the part where he said,
                         leave here
                         while your
                         memory is
                         still good.




from "a brief history of carpet making"