Monday, November 1, 2010


So, for ALL SAINTS' DAY, I've formed a found poem
from one line or snippet from all the poems I've done so far.

There is a point at which love is not a mouth.

This harp inside of me won’t stop wailing--

like something we do not understand.

Put so much weight on your ribs while the sun

is in the heavens and up the throat like a yellow song.

I have come to terms with fire

and the peaches beneath that blouse.

I’m one leg in to keep the blossoms from crying.

Everything fell into a bed of the darkest tulips.

Hands that never stop reaching.

A field of magnets to pull me back home.

Swallows with their boomerang wings.

When punctured with a pin, the flowers

show their colors, darken to shades of blood.

This is what it takes to get the shards out.

There is a smattering of red stars on my right hip.

Layers of crackling sun from your lips to your earlobe

sliced open the plush belly of our sofa. I found a cup

of near-dead stars, a tongue, a half-eaten cake.

These days, anything ignites. This is how to learn patience.

Seeing you rise up was an unknown pleasure. Like these

tiny uneven cities, I wished I could slam all the shutters closed.

I can see an astronaut floating in an inner tube of night.

There is a music to martyrdom, the throbbing center of all things holy.

Calamities trace back to the start. Cradle the bodies as if

they were your first born. Pink & yearning.

A glint of backbone is an undiscovered continent.

Render your body a ruin or a promise from a blue light.

Stretch in the heat, sleep sweaty. I want to peel you like an onion.

You told me that I was an absolute frontier, a single organ

you were so compelled to steal.

A nightshirt of nails. All these rumbling choices radiate like a mistake.

Backpedal away from the light. I opened my mouth and all the

four-leaf clovers I’ve collected over the years fell out.

The trees folded into themselves. There is a bee

sunning itself in the bottom of my champagne glass.

Every girl wants to be loved that way--hoping to reach a state of grace.

Church of the oak, I cannot catch my breath. The backs of my knees

are as red as the old barn. We bit our lips ‘till they split open

to reveal the sky. So much for sleeping alone.

Humidity stopped all the doors from closing.

I refuse her and turn inward like a lily.

It is impossible to hold anyone’s hand.

The ______ of loving him or Christ-as-flattened-moon?

I’d wear those fires like a gown. Keep swinging your rosary like a lasso.

If this were a house of God, all the floorboards would be shining. Open up.

Elegance is a star all aglow in a cell. it licks the bars with light.

I reached out towards the infinite and came back with the tail of a comet.

Our one and only holds a thick red steak over her eye.

The river flowed on through this silver engine of a heart.

The trees continued their slow shift into rust and settled

in the crevice of my collarbone. All those stains on your apron

mean you’ve been somewhere.

Submerged in the whorls of the wood, the bulb dangles like a moon.

I am drowning in the grasses that grow here.

A swarm of fire ants destroyed a nest, a home, a bundle of new life.

I worried that I might get electrocuted.

I worried that I should have been saving something.

I’ve got sweater pockets full of acorns that I clench in my palms

during Mass. I hear, lift up your skirts and let the voices fall out

instead of I walk through salt to reach you. see the depths roar out,

set this world ablaze. I find myself with everything detached.

I must have heard your horses whinnying,

calling out for someone to help them out of place so black.

Sweating, cursing, and so out of breath, I am a sheep

and you skin me with that arm that glows like a beacon.

Remember him like a satellite, rattling around your ribs.

Morning is as warm as you imagine it to be.

Gleaming white planets of the mouth predict a crack

in the infallible. Although tonight is a basket of rotten moons,

there are still nails in the hay.

A shoulder covered in freckles breaks more hearts

than a bed full of burnt-out lightbulbs.

Here is a lung full of heavy feathers.

Your body is a last sacrament, a heat that always remains.

Why do you still remain in the world?

Call out dryly like a desert. Hysterical.

He holds your head underwater and the

golden cross around your neck

clatters against your teeth.

Everything I thought I knew about roots came out in the wash.

She told me that she wears nylons so her veins won’t

fall out of her legs.A forest of wolves welcomed her cloud

down to the wheat. They bit into the softest thing they could find.

I hold all of my bones in my pockets.

I was not born to be wounded by someone else’s arrow.

This is what it really means to be afraid. This flood is nothing

but a dazzle, a common language heaped with feathers,

a black cross that hums above the headboard of your bed.

Bright desires set the room on fire.

This night’s journey is over.

The trunk of your car was full of violets.

I told myself that bad things happen to good people.

I realize that you, God, are in them.

Regardless of compulsion,

I will not throw you out

with the bathwater.

Behold a virgin may conceive a thousand trees.

You must cut her. She loves like a carnivore--

red and thumping like cherries. I opened the curtains

and expected to find part of her there.

When I accepted God as my one and only, you were

somewhere in Vietnam, coughing from the back of a motorbike.

There are no footprints in the mud. The fire creeps up and catches

the hem of everything I wear. I imagined the stars like milk in my mouth.

All the stained glass windows rattle through your plush pink stomach.

What I mean to say is that it started snowing. For every inch that fell,

I cut another inch of my hair off. All those doves fluttering out

of your pockets are gun smoke, light skating across a halo.

I’ve been touched and I’ve been touched and I make necklaces of burning coal.

This is what happens when you try to come tumbling back into the fold.

The reason I tore everything up is delicate. Where the light shines through,

I can see where the decay starts in a flurry of poppy red. I need you to be here

when I get back. I beat my chest and slur straight on ‘till morning.

Fruit inside the frost is spun sugar. The underside of a plum is a hole

that leads inside. It pushes your body further towards flight and bone.

It is bright enough to keep me from showing you my lower back

in front of all these strangers. No. Really.

Your body growls and I lose my house keys in its red silk lining.

How many fluttering bats have you swallowed today?

Why, when I have forgotten everything, do they still call me the lucky one?

A young man who is nothing but a legend was an accidental birth.

Did you shake the ground when you found a breathing black cloud?

He was my earliest apology. The stars were soft-boiled.

I do have one way of keeping her quiet. I pour water on her.

I feel mean when I do it, but I do I stop a fire from happening.

One bee escapes. Can we discuss the jar of honey you keep under the bed?

There are fingerprints on the glass as smooth as the silk I dream about.

In a corner, we tear out the hems of favorite dresses. That blue egg

in your stomach rattled and desired a season of marigolds. Take a goldfish

and let it swim in your chest. They are lightbulbs planted by God.

Do you remember coming home to our backyard on fire?

Maybe we should move to the side of town God lives on.

I am shocked into penance as if he is coming back to cut their wicks.

I struggle to catch one blue breath. White splinters turned into paper,

folded themselves into cranes and flew. One of them is glass

and I can’t tell which. They fall before they are ripe.

These hills roll out from under me. I went to the grocery store

and grabbed those little orange globes and rolled them down

the aisles. In bed, I told him I felt resurrected.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, I went to the movies

and walked straight up the aisle with a pushpin in my hand.

I punctured the screen and no girl came to take my hand.

I told myself that this century must be the difficult one.

There is a small voice that seeps out from between

the sheet and the mattress. A son of light or a son of darkness?

I ignore it. This bruise is a home I’d like to live in.

The tongue must bite itself, filling the mouth with a lush velvet.

How could I not be drawn in by the draping of thorns?

I lost my balance. They told me to lean into the arms

of all those angels. The shock value was the same.

Yesterday was a singed lampshade. Today is a clanking radiator.

This must be what it feels like to not trust your own organs.

This is the bottom. Now we must look up. The sun trembles.

I could have sworn I heard something crying.

You are the very thought of guilt. Like crude oil, like a mistake.

I have my sorrows narrowed down to seven:

1. we used to pick ground pine.

2. I realized how small you are.

3. last month, in the choir, I yielded to to sweet sleep.

4. your face hit the pavement

5. from here, I cannot see the stars.

6. I thought you were my gold river, my ticket to the sun.

7. the floorboards creak.

We know you are listening from within. Two lions

with paws as broad as your shoulders dig your grave.

I heard a crash, a shattering of china.

I will guide the knife slowly, navigate it down the river of my throat.

My neck gives birth to so many stars. I knew you’d run.

We are the ones awake and listening. You said that your heart

felt like a velvet chair left out in the rain. We curled up

in the backseat of my Buick searching for a glass

that was never shattered, as if it were a pink cake.

This must be some little dream.

I have already forgotten the chords I use in bed.

My ear is a snail that keeps spiraling.

Your mouth is my oyster. Scratch that. Your oyster is my mouth.

His flames lick the high ceilings of my teenage years.

I am too old to be sneaking out of my own house, but

your mouth was a reef in and of itself.

I took a swan dive back into the next big thing--

a galaxy born from one single explosion.

In this heat, buildings shudder, and bobby pins clatter

to the floor. There is a light in the closet and I pull the string.

All the miles you’ve crossed rattle like a real ribcage.

You are emerging from the smoke. You are vinegar.

I keep my head down. Somehow, you always end up back inside.

Some people, they just won’t understand. Some people.

Devotion takes over and the wasps swarm around the gallows

as if there is something sweet dripping from the noose.

He is the greatest hallucination.

I didn’t know there was a way to fail. Coax these muscles

back from being ghosts. I sweat through everything.

You ring in my head like an old bell.

Cancer slips away like a ribbon at the beach.

Hold the doves with both hands.

Who could have guessed that you could die

glowing with the heat of all those spider bites?

The world changed so quickly

when we were busy making angels.

How did you tell the sky you were ready?

In the midst of fire, I wake up and find pain

in all of my joints. In case you were wondering,

they are not covered in lace.

Tomorrow is eventual. The ring that could have been

mine flutters down to the blue bottom of the pool.

There is an ache that never ceases. Get married.

Take a ring and let it carry you away. He left me all on fire.

With the neighborhood pooling around the storm drains,

I woke up suddenly and thought this was the next life.

This, this here is the beginning of the end,

mistaken for fireworks from a distance.

And in one moment...complete silence--

On the other side of the sun, I found a golden elevator

to carry me to Jesus. Desire pushed me into you and

I swung back like a pendulum. We are harvests of muscle.

I keep waking up and wondering where you are.

The house is full of apples and a few shipwrecks.

For the sake of things to come, I check my expiration date

between the gaps in my teeth. I am a cherry blossom on the verge.

The loose threads of my nightgown moan like the inside of an egg.

I wish I knew how to talk about how something was awakened,

but I forget what elegy means. I scratch prized vinyl, understand

the meaning of silence. No double-guessing, no cherries left

at the bottom of your drink.

It looked like a pool so black.

This is how to make things whole again.

This is the end of winter.

Here with a body lost, the branches

shake with electricity. Bound on all

sides. Contain. Surround.

I started out into the world with

intentions of changing everything.

He told me that my sadness was the same

as every teenage girl’s sadness.

There must be a way a way to tell myself apart

from all those rotten peaches that attract the bees.

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, this is so moving, the way it's crafted-- we / saints have these refuges inside ourselves (revealed through bitten lips & even pockets) threatened by an outer literal fire that's role is both ominous & ambiguous. Once an image starts to fade, it reappears, & stronger. Makes me want to sit down & read all yr saint poems as a manuscript (wish I had publishing powers!)

    Hope yr swell (!!) xoM.