shriven

verb:
to have received the confession of; to have imposed penance on; to have granted absolution to

directions

in life, left and right is the difference
between a heart and no heart.
don’t miss the next turn
or take the wrong exit.

adjectives

time beats the adjectives out of you.
or they settle like down
in a favorite pillow. still there,
but bunched together at the bottom
in a shape with empty space
that fits you perfectly.
it is not the structures they support anymore,
but the person they accommodate.
when they aren’t in the way,
i can sleep.

friend

my nails are still painted your blue.
it remains at my invitation.
i am lucky to know you, and to
have known you before you left.
when you return, we will talk again.
there will be no need for old color.

bedtime story [parmenides]

once there was a turtle sitting

on its nest. together

they composed the universe.

the universe shouted into its phone

so you want to fuck other people

the phone also is the universe.

the universe shouted into itself

so you want to fuck

there are no other people.

where would other people come from?

things do not come from nowhere.

the universe did not begin to shout.

to begin would mean

there was a time without shouting.

instead, the universe

hummed contentedly in the nest of itself

like it always does.

weeds

weeds are a sign of difference
between one kind of life and another.
the life desired thrives with care.
the forgotten life survives anywhere.
cement and glass are no obstacles
to the underlying strength
of our evaded potential.

emptiness

like a trick cane with a knife inside
it cuts in the hands of those who know
it is there

determiner [fragment]

this of slamming prison gates
this of violent winds
this of blood and burden
burning in the abdomen

this is that presented
this is that before
this is distant ice age
knocking on the door

Delay

Lately I’ve been thinking about lines from Anne Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband:

Fair reader I offer merely an analogy.

A delay.

What is being delayed?

Marriage I guess.

That swaying place as my husband called it.

Look how the word

shines.

Carson is not, I think, referring to the delay that soon-to-be lovers employ to heighten anticipation, or the delay that occurs when something goes wrong, though that is closer to it. I think of a delay in this instance as putting something off. Like you put a wedding off.

The wedding’s off.

I’m putting life off.

I’m just not ready.

Delay.

It is not suspension—that is another thing it could be but is not—for suspension requires that the event begin to unfold before it can suspended. In a putting off, the put off is here but has not yet arrived—it is the wedding day but the wedding has not begun, I am living but life has not started. A putting off is a suspension like a corpse is suspended—death has arrived but Death has not yet come to claim the body.

Is that not what we expect? Death to come on a white horse and bear the body away?

We use that image to distance ourselves from death because death is everywhere. Look, we can say, there is Death. He is not within us.

But it goes without saying.

As the living fear death, I too put off something that resided already within me. I do not know whether I externalized it, or if I did into what.

That was something of a lie. I do know that I externalized it, and I know into what.

Delay comes filtered through French from the Latin laxare, to slacken, undo.

A loosening of what?

Of tension, of gravity. As if all things in their tight orbits around us might be fed more length and made to grow distant from the center, take longer to come round to where they began.

Where I began.

parmenides

i.
two things are true:
one thing is true
and this one thing can never not be true.

some call it love.
others say that time
moves onward forever.
like black ice you can’t see it
but it is there.

this is what is called a statement.
love and time.
these two things.

ii.
if the universe were an egg
it would never hatch
because
there is only one.

alone, it cannot
make more.
this
is probably for the best.

one egg in the hand—
and a second hand
to steady the shaking wrist.

iii.
how can there be two things.
the fish is just the fish.
one thing.
the nest is just the nest.
also one thing.

add them together and
there is one thing again.
this makes it easy
to account for failure.

together,
it all makes sense.

swimming pool

when from the swimming pool
you returned i returned
i did not return
and the name lay wet like hair
across the body of the unspoken air

the eyes did not see it
the ears did not hear it
the inner speech spoke it
and knew it to be true
and some other people
went their merry way
and some other people
returned with unsaid names
to the bedroom beyond knowing
to the dark that is now and surrounds
the only space i see
and cuts the shadows as they fall
in hush beyond the boundary

the smell of chlorine drapes the bed
and suggests motion
and recalls the ocean
past either sea on either coast
in warmth where we were born
where i returned and did not return
the inner speech had warned
the eye saw blue hanging
the ear heard more than splashing
over the agitated water
and life when in proximity to life
chooses to approach or withdraw
and life in the presence of death
has no choice
and must descend
into unspoken law