perigee

I heard your voice over the phone and I thought I knew where you were and how to tell you.

In the story of other people we aren’t so different. The look you gave me under the boughs was no different from the look other people share under street signs, in the glow of the bar lights, in front of closed windows, in their doorways, their spaces, their own orbitals; we are onlygreener. Only greener.

Looking at the moon in without anything to compare it to, you wouldn’t notice any difference in size. If you want to be involved in this discussion here are the available times: one day past all the others where we don’t talk to anyone else, that time of morning when I do the rounds and water my plants while you make your third coffee, that point of perigee when all we can comprehend is the fact that we are together. Add on that time late at night when I can only stay up and stare at the clock as it ticks away during jazz hour because you are there and not here. I look at the pillow from every angle and wonder if that’s how you really see it or if I just want you to see it like I do.

Last night you weren’t here and I thought the wind was running through the trees so loud that they would fall over and ruin someone else’s life, right there in the middle of dinner, right when they were sleeping, laughing, crying. When they weren’t expecting it. I can sympathize; that’s very much what you did to me, but I was the one who let you in. The wind couldn’t care what I think. The wind never knocks and asks.

son, i would rather be an artist

The streets were black and wet like crushed velvet. I couldn’t sleep, so I went to the dance hall.

All the girls have single lines on bare legs, dividing the bone. Their teeth are so white and always out. I was held in a necklace of twisting and complicated knots for years and like a finger trap the more you pull away, the more you are pulled back. I left the screen out of my window to make the whole thing easier; it was taking too long to get the damn thing out quietly. No one noticed anyways; who even looks anymore?

I held onto the shirtsleeves at the wrist. Round and round like the water in a washing machine, bubbled with soapy remnants of booze and powder from the bathroom sink. My eyes in the light were big and red, full of the stuff of love if you squint at it. Big and red like the lights, everything glowing and smiling down on me, on us, on all of it. Punch drunk. Drunk drunk. Heart so big it’s gonna burst right of you, darling. Drop like a stone while you dance around it.

Lots of brass and bells. The long dark windows are lined with ferns; it’s a real hothouse in here. My shirt clings and my hair’s fallen out of order, but you don’t seem to mind and I certainly don’t. I didn’t come here to care.

Don’t worry. My pockets are good enough for your hands. My coat is big enough to walk home in. Don’t worry: I’ll be tired in the morning, but I’ll be thinking of you. The water you gave me, the way we were together there under the valentine lights. Those girls, their teeth always out, always so white. Always in the way that nothing ever changes, tomorrow never comes.

Don’t worry, tonight I’ll be dancing with him. Round and round. Always.

rose magic

Don’t take this the wrong way, but what could you know about voodoo? That’s not yours to know. Try some other things first: take the train, go out to eat. Grow something good. That’s how you do it. That’s how you stay apposite. My apologies for the rude awakening. Someone needed to tell you.

They say that magic is dead once you hit the city. That’s not true; it just goes to the wires. It’s not voodoo; it’s vodou. Rose magic;  dark devil. Your own people are cutting you up, selling parts of you in the window next to other southern cuts. But they’re not red, and that’s what matters, that’s what gets the flag of the righteous flying, anointing the butchering of other racks of lamb.

The magic is there in the wires; look: the fuzzy television, the sound between stations, the shock when you touch an outlet. Others can call it what they like: empty frequency or an abundance of the thing, life, electricity. It’s all the same—it’s all that thing which makes plants grow, the phosphorous in the soil you came from.

You polish the silver while your neighbors go missing. First the children, then their parents, then the rest. It’s not about you, it’s nothing to do with you. The asphalt’s hot, but you’ve got to go barefoot to get anywhere at all. Your feet bleed in the evenings, so you wrap old cloth around them until the red shows through—straight through—like holding your hand up to the bare light. The stronger plants are starting to sag under their colossal potential, exceeding their natural limits, so you have to start snapping some matches to prop them up again. When they, too, break, you have to start all over. More matches. More weight. More of the familiar rotation of your thumb in the dip of the spoon. It’s not you. It’s nothing to do with you.

You used to wake to the incessant birds, but now you wake to nothing, really; their throats were slit, their song bled out. With them gone, what are we left with? The noiseless wind, the waves breaking on another shore. The taste of dirt in your mouth, always stuck under calcified scales.

Then there’s the theory on broken windows: if a neighborhood has one, the residents will break the rest. When you open your curtains, the room doesn’t get any brighter. When you’re down there, you stay down there. The dirt is your bed, your bread, your butter. When the white god calls, you have no choice but to answer because at least it’s help, even if the birds are gone and the water has all run black. Rose magic; dark devil.

You sit in a white plastic chair with your feet propped up on the flipped garbage can, watching empty streets and listening for the faraway sound of the car that never comes. The trashmen stopped weeks ago, and now your lawn is litter. The matches have snapped and there’s no one left to ask for more. Your feet are red, the light shining through.

Your neighbors; children first, adults later, then the rest. We put them in a different dirt, a different bed, gave them different bread, different butter. They live with us, so we tell them there’s no magic anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

It’s all the same—it’s all that thing which makes plants grow, rich in that inexplicable phosphoric life, with the smell of boiling urine because that’s what you’re down to now. Look: the litter lawn, the hot street, the light shining through. Look: in the iron rails, in the sound on the streets, in the overgrowth of the green around you. The gum tarred to the sidewalk, the noise of birds, the blue above and the metal below. Look and weep: your bones, your hands, it’s nothing, were nothing, are only eggshells. Keep your feet up. The magic is there.