dear god-and-a-half dear action painter
dear compassionate sloth and hammerhead
shark who willingly gave up the hammer
dear directionless each and every
direction at once dear homeless zoo
keeper dark inverted sun and broke-
winged finch healed-winged falcon dear
surprising January rain running
quickly from rooftops like prophets’ voices
in the wind which brought it to them
not beyond infection or cancer or
arthritis or fevers or doubt but rather
those unseen jet streams howling throughout
the land to break things up again


only one bird breed lives in lemon trees
until I Googled it and found out
that many bird breeds live in lemon trees
and that it’s actually a problem
people have keeping these birds out
of their citrus the worst being the oranges
but then I Googled that and it turns out
the citrus-bird problem is universal
and not a joking matter like last night
when Jake made fun of Jean-Dominique
Bauby by blinking his left eye
and then regretted it or the time when
I took too lightly the citrus-bird problem
that we were having metaphorically


and who am I to not slowly fashion
a small god from the fingernail clippings
of the girl I love Jackson Pollock of
the body was an idea I had
for a sculpture imagining if chaos
were spatial like what happens when
a word disappears into an object
between us the vase of your shoulders or
as André Breton put it better
“my wife whose shoulders are champagne”
and then to wake in the myriad mums
(my pubic hair littered with mum pollen)
to Adam’s excited utterance
“oh bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”


darkness and diphtheria mix with softness
the shape of a brick-cornered
building encompassing a map of West
Africa (explaining this tit-for-tat
and stray cat moaning as some suffering
is just too much and the only way
to get at it’s by back roads and worm holes
the removal of all things to make her
say “okay okay I remember that”)
the firefly fat with light swarming inside
the jar to make the center of the palm
bright as the person carrying it I
used to have so much to say before the rain
carried me away and now it steers


“I hope like a hatchback bird at least
some semblance of worship comes from these”
was supposed to be the last couplet of
this last poem but I couldn’t get there and
so decided to start here (with what
gratitude) as I walk through the hospital
lobby and out into the parking lot
leaving behind tubes of blood with
my name on them address and birthday it’s
all so odd how someday I’ll be just one
petal on the mechanical sunflower
which is why I think she keeps telling me
that for some love leads to discipline
and for others it’s the other way around


I invite the coyote in and give him
free reign of the interior space
to redecorate my place in accordance
with his tastes to which I can’t relate
yet am surprisingly excited at
the prospect of hating the color scheme
coyote chooses or the arrangement
of the furniture the hanging artwork
(though we both love Jackson Pollock
and the violence inherent to those
strokes that cross the other ones out)
“I am nature” Pollock says coyote
once told me to which I replied loudly
“I know coyote I know I know”


stick to the image of the owl or the tall
thin pine around the lake imagine
that it was your home and that you were
a collector of squirrel bones watching
them fall end over end from unknown
heights do you think this would change
your views on religion or politics
even though you would never be allowed
to vote or attend a church service
unless you listened from the bell tower
or took communion from a rain puddle
or punched the ballot with your beak you
probably wouldn’t care wouldn’t put on
your best owl suit wouldn’t even own one


a paper airplane made of fractals is
thrown into the jungle or at least that’s
how it feels to be the jungle I mean
a self-injection of Etanercept
into either “the thigh or the stomach”
is what the nurse says “but first make sure
that the syringe is clear and doesn’t
look like a snow globe” which I suppose
means that no snow is allowed in
the jungle that it wouldn’t survive
there or accumulate on the jungle floor
or the jungle vines or the jungle
animals (who would surely die) so I
warm it up and sterilize the spot twice


the materials of darkness are this
crow’s broken wing reflecting daylight
through the middle of the kitchen where
I’m sitting in a chair reclining deeper
into the breast of the last supper
until leaning forward for the first time
in years as whose paternal twin I
envision the lonely wing on the lawn
the body somewhere else just sitting there
it’s me I think to myself I must be
missing my left arm always have been
though I’m lying as nothing is ever
always so I’ll just mourn for both of us
and start tomorrow as the wing’s body


a fly is something that exploded
and was put back together in the name
of magnetism’s fear or atonal
music and so a fly is like John Cage
or the sort of thing John Cage would sing
if he sang (and he does sing) I mean
secret things composed of a low hum
in the shower or the car in mid-flight
its vibrant wings exploding in the air
in the middle of an open expanse like
how on earth did I ever get here


“I want to be here” is the simplest
form of praise I know the ozone levels
are so high today I have a headache
but love the slope of your breasts the way
a bird swoops into the hole in the wall
outside the kitchen window means
we’re finally sharing a home I suppose
I could’ve been more romantic instead
of writing about those other bodies
moving around me like yesterday I saw
this shadow on the floor of the river as
water was brooding dove-like above it


hello skirmish of bright red fire ants you
nervous bird-herd of the sky jackfruit
painted tie the library leaning back
heavy with ivy under crisscross jet streams
of an empty Doritos bag floating by
with such whimsy it breaks me into thirds
a kind of doxology before this
altar of fire even these streamers
as your voice is a bottle rocket
to me and to everything else simply
a dog whistle (unbearable unhearable)
on the outskirts of campus the prophet waits
scribbling notes about the baby foxes
born just beyond the threshold of the gate


the naked body my naked body
rheumatoid arthritis and Tylenol
3 my heart beats unseen waves of sunlight
passing through the window next to me I think
through a migraine as stained glass suffering
is a kind of worship at least that’s why
I like birds so much so small that you
carried one home in your mitten from
the train it looked sickly and lost when
we let it go and so I promised to make
a bird feeder which I suppose will never
happen now I just can’t stop thinking about
that Berrigan sonnet that ends with “sadness
I launched a boat frail as a butterfly”


my thoughts are the arc of your ponytail
perfect and completely meaningless
to the majority of the world
allowing desperation in like a dog
from the cold and breathtaking rain
Technicolor autumn singing songs
to our captors on the muddy banks
of the river we shiver reflective
daughter of someone else and myself
the son of how waves are spun
into shadows together with lichen
and floating algae inside of which
I can see flashes of a fish’s body


cathedral made of oyster shells wherein
the pearl both exists and has been
removed I crush white pills into a paste
and use all of them and ingest them
to form the body inside my own
shell of a frame physically depressed
and yoked to death’s fluid sculpture
(a Bernini made of birthwater) entering
through a seed-shaped door I pull
at the pant-leg of the Eucharist
a child both spoiled and desperate
the kind of kid who looks through
(and looks to) the stained glass figures
the sunlight enters by the other side


you have lipstick on your collar I say
to my father the priest that’s just the Blood
of Christ my son he replies by and by
(the milky thigh of Mary in my mind)
William Blake’s eyes aligning in the snow
a statue outside London simply called
“The Heretic” where birds sit and shit
and live out their days in unconscious praise
of that third space between language
and the mute object sunlight pours through
the stained glass at the Lincoln Park Zoo
where I saw the lions pacing and you
told me to always remember that the cage
is for the protection of the captor