THE POEM

Four Skin Confessions

 

 

1a)
The
body judges
better than the

mind.
In the
Great Silent Calm

that
always follows,
the afternoon went

soft
and gold,
gold and soft,

on
the slopes
of the dry

San
Gabriels, where
spindle-hag scrub

scratch
out an
odd cuneiform on

the
sky — i.e.
En arche en

ho
logos, kai
ho logos en

pros
ton theon,
kai theos en

ho
logos.
Sous
rature. We get

to
carry each
other, carry each

other.
Hey hey …
sha la la.

Sun-
stung shores
ribbon radio snatches.

Trees
catch sound
to throw it

back.
The body
turns, changes colo(u)r.

I’ve
fallen I’ve
fallen into the

book
I’ve fallen
into the book

of
my body.
… I can’t get

up.
Mind judges
the weary body

reading
the lines
on palms and

fingers
and trees
sway like children

bored
in libraries
abandoned by parents

tired
as usual
of the wind.

Each
book stays
still like clay,

while
the moon
pretends to marry

signing
her name
with purple blood.

Think
of it
this way: bodies

dream
with hojas,
libros y árboles.

I’ve
fallen
into the tropical

moondance
of palm
trees: “had I

not
kept fire
for myself, I’d

have
nothing to
call my own”.

And
also for
stretching the spine.

I
read books
looking for You.

I
write books
to quell pronouns

separating
our bodies
from trees, wind,

sky
into mere
letters, all misspelled.

All
of you
alchemizing libraries from

veins
riotous, plentiful
but filling only

one
leaf, sundering
green for gold —

where
ground crumbles,
a specific intimacy.

 

 

1b)
Olam
u-melo’o, a
world and the

fullness
thereof, that
you would kiss

me
with the
kisses of your

mouth,
that we
would burn away

all
pronouns, that
we would ride

that
cherub of
light and float

in
18,000 worlds,
listening to heavenly

DJs,
that we
would strut the

widest
Broadways of
our biggest cities,

heads
wrapped in
copper snakes, because

“Copper
snakes are
the right idea …

they
have a
potential for healing.”

Books
and bodies.
Words and worlds.

They
suck you
in, digest you

like
heads swallowed
by shy anacondas.

“I
know this
much is true.”

Still —
let’s not
circle the bush:

reuniting
us here,
in this place,

here
and in
what little time

we
share here,
this deliberate gathering,

is
simply
friendship,

like
the roots
of the forests

of
Manila or
swamps in Florida

or
the dark
rivers of Oaxaca.

Go
there where
you cannot
, I

beg
you, as
your friend, like

that
brujo over
there in Catemaco,

who
once predicted
bodies and books

and
trees full
of foreign blood:

hear
where nothing
rings or sounds,

mad
poets, because
“the most impossible

is
possible”, in
litteris, this confession.

 

 

2)
Hear
where nothing
is said. Here

where
everything worth
hearing is offered.

En
arche en
ho logos, kai

ho …
the bush
suddenly ablaze, sky

flaming
in your
eyes and mine,

blood
melting to
ink in our

veins,
then leaking
to shape gold

letters
on correspondence
masquerading as books.

Here
where Nothing
is said, hear

where
Nothing is
said, watch smoke rise

off
the tongue,
words like snakes.

The
tongue is
a golden page.

No
golden age,
no smoky page,

no
gold-tongued
rage against dying,

blood
flaming, ink
dyeing, drying, dying.

(Time
stops. Glittering
blackness. First day

after
a coma.
A place like

Wales.
Music, images
of loveable skin.

I’ve
fallen out
of the body.)

In
the beginning
was the body,

bebed,
porque este
es mi cuerpo,

flesh
made word,
red like wine.

But
can faux
bushes exist in

poems
if gold
includes circumcision and

its
multicultural confessions?
Circumfession (once again‽)

experienced
physically as
circumcision without a

single flinch from
allowing the
descent

of the blade.
Nor does
a single

nerve end
flinch.
Indeed,

a grin surfaces,
so perverse
is

hir
funny bone.
Believe it, Honey,

as
a Mohel,
I would bare

proudly-filed,
pyramid-shaped teeth
you didn’t know

hid
behind lips
crimson with lipstick

and
wine and
blood and ink

and
Derrida and
confessions and those

which
never will
be confessed and…

 

 

3)
Flick
the dial.
Spicer Satellite Radio:

“ …we
must not
let the paths

of
desire become
overgrown … I am

only
counting on
what comes of

my
own openness,
my eagerness to

wander
in search
of everything … it

keeps
me in
mysterious communication with

other
open beings,
as if we

were
suddenly called
to assemble…” [slow fade…]

“That
was André
the Pope singing

that
old surrealist
classic, Mad Love.

And
now…” Change
the station‽ Nah.

My
lost highway
bends into a

sunset
sky dripping
a thousand mingled

shades
of lipstick,
blood and wine.

Such
dry air —
all the beers

of
San Miguel
will not slake,

dark and bitter,
my thirst
blank,

unspooling as roads
go, no
signals,

flesh nothing but
a limbic
afterthought.

What colo(u)r is
your flesh?
Unpick

these new stitches,
like stark
dashes,

down a lipsticked,
wined, blooded
road.

Jerry,
in London,
he told John:

“We blew Monterey
and Woodstock:
bang

crash roar,
then Hendrix set

fire to everything,
then we
whooooosh…”

This
note will
sustain as long

as you like.
The next
step

is
the note
that catches, the

last form is,
by far,
hardest

to
achieve. Once
you play this

loud,
the entire
stage becomes sensitive

to feedback: celestial
tone, crimson
kiss.

Song
of crimson
kisses kissing crimson

into you until
your flesh
crimsons

from osmosis with
bloodied bloody
words.

The colo(u)r of
my flesh?
Word.

 

 

4)
This
moves like
a festival now.

The mud the
crowd the
mosh

the
fire. My
flesh? My flesh,

that word that’s
so … that’s
so …

I
lost my
body once, on

2000 mics and
an endless
celestial

crimson
feedback burning
bush Garcia solo,

and I laughed,
because … I
DIDN’T

NEED
IT. But
I needed it

later. I need
it now.
What

colo(u)r
is my
flesh? Word. What

word? I don’t
know. All
I

know:
only you
can speak it.

Speak my flesh
into your
microphone,

flesh
is word
is love, Love.

Here’s the sound
of my
skin

blooming
crimson kisses,
kissing shady desire,

stars underfoot, words
hang above,
constellar

sunshine,
la crème
de la créme,

the milky way
of skin
written

with
birth spots
a divine battle

and all I
do is
worship

scars,
ever-more scars —
how do you

measure the years?
Never healed
scars —

impossible scars, impossible
scars bloomed
to

fruit
by poetry
which doesn’t heal

but compels you
to keep
breathing.

Breathe
through anything
and everything thrown

at you by
even the
stars —

suddenly miserable points
of light
which

can’t help but
illumine. Scars
seared

with the most
crimson-ridden
light.

Like
refusing to
put I love

you under erasure.
Keep on
dancing

until
daylight … as
Sherril Jaffe wrote

those
many years
ago, “Scars make

your
body more
interesting.” Impossible scars

bloomed to fruit,
sticky-sweet,
seed-

bearing …
Rest, and
look at this

goddamned red wheelbarrow.
Whatever it
is.

 

 

5)
Forgive
me, you
were delicious cold

or … well, so
much depends
on …

forgive
me, you
were so warm,

so
good to
dance near your

raised
flesh, the tracks
sewn over, scars

tell
stories, all
they know, time

punctuates
the skin.
Here you are.

Here
I am
with a story

of abiding love,
because there
are

flowers
also in
hell, and I

cannot cross out
your name,
scarred,

inked
over this
skin you once

made only yours
by kissing,
“I

didn’t know
tattoos were felt,”

you told me
that night
we

read
The Torah
looking for the

beginning of your name,
Raquel, who
waited

for
years for
love, abiding love,

and the candles
died out,
slowly

dripping
white blood
over your earrings,

until one day
you did
not

forget
them here,
but your fingers

traced the name,
the tracks
of

my
story, literally
raised flesh, Darling.

What do I
remember, remember,
that

was
shaped as
this thing we

are still afraid
to call
love?

 

 

6)
What I forgot
and now
remember

because you love
me (and
me)

is why I answered
Homer’s Odyssey
and Iliad

when an anthology
editor asked
for

favorite books which
influenced my
poetry.

I recalled Homer’s
books not
just

for their words
but their
“physicality.”

In my birthland
_____ _____
books

were/are expensive.
A bookshelf
held

Glory in our
living room.
Mama

ensured we children
understood that
treasures

lived on those
shelves: Odyssey,
Iliad,

many more books.
Even now
my

fingers itch remembering
the edges
of pages

as I leafed
through their
stories,

words blooming flesh
touching other
flesh.

But let me
recall, too,
a twin:

the horror ever
lurking within
my

mind, my body:
me and
You!

:Something else was
born that
day

when I first
tip-toed to
reach

for my first
book to
read.

When I began
to write
Poetry

I had nothing
to say.
And

I thought that
okay. Many
Masters

in the poetry
universe had
proclaimed:

Poetry is not
meaning, but
language.

Relatedly, the authors
died. So
I

concocted fiction for
my poems,
often

dark tales since
one must
be

dramatic, no? But
then I
began

to live those
stories with
nothing

less than my
own body.

                              stars—

          suddenly miserable points
          of light
          which

          can’t help but
          illumine. Scars
          seared

          with the most
          crimson-ridden
          light.

Snow

spread through my
veins until
my

eyes blossomed crimson.
No Master
ever

warned me: in
Poetry, someone
always

speaks. Someone always
feels. Someone
always

bleeds. Someone always
scars. Someone
often

with bared teeth.
No one
warned:

in Poetry, Dear
One(s),
this
poet

may concoct fiction,
but will
never

lie. Come, Darling,
see my
beautiful

eyes. See how
anguish has
bled

my eyes bright.
See how
anguish

surfaced snow in
my crimson
vision.

See how poetry
lit me
purple

from within, then
turned me
blind.

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2 Responses

  1. […] a sample of the Chained Hay(na)ku, you can see our collaborative poem, “Four Skin Confessions.” The poem was written in May 2007 by email, spanning the time zones of London, Cardiff, and […]

  2. […] Four Skin Confessions […]

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