Choose Your Own Advent
Pick a city to be born in,
One with a history resonant with your tragedies.
(they all resonate with tragedies.)
Brilliant and pretty or —
Split your zygote. You’re gonna need a friend.
No, “not poor” was not on the list of options.
Sweet as psychosis will be the barbed cradle of your birth.
Well, it’ll make a great autobiography.
Love anyway. Toddle anyway. Revel in pure non-comprehension
until [not] understanding starts to hurt.
Remember to scream like shards in your epiglottis
“I never asked to be born!”
Ask to be borne.
From age twelve to fourteen you may choose to hate your twin.
If you do, flinch guiltily at every memory.
If you don’t, a bubble of untested rage will sit behind your sternum forever.
Lose your parents, like a library book or
Like batman or
Fail to lose them no matter how you try.
Miss the bus or
Go where you are afraid to;
Every choice is a beginning.
All the ends are unsatisfying,
but it’s okay–
You’ll think it is your choice
at the time.
Inside the Puzzle Box
After ‘Treasure Box, 2014’ by Ai Wei Wei – wood sculpture in the Cleveland Museum of Art
Sub-surface scattering of light limns
the false satin depths of wood grain;
Crafted, fit flush and clean, this joiner’s masterwork
–each rhombus laid tight to deceive deeper, yet
the flash of polish blanks the surface, a sliding lake of lacquer.
Puzzle wood, your workings just exposed enough to thrill;
the piano sound can bounce
on those corridors and banquet floors I cannot:
a turn, a shine, just out of sight.
And oh, how I’d treasure
to lie on parquet, to rest my gaze on beams,
Shafts and ceilings and prisms and all of it
just around a corner from attainable:
Cathedral ceiling living
rooms, dovetail dinning nooks
to box in your treasure:
the void you sculpt.
Bronze a delicate Bohr’s atom around your slender wrist,
Made to suffer, to
Prettily look away to be
Prized by the eye that follows the shaft.
In Genoa they pierced your youth,
One sculptor and a dozen ravenous priests,
Bristling you with metaphors.
Now you slouch in a sexless hall,
Climate-controlled saints contort in
Preserving dryness around you.
Sebastian, I thirst to free you, but
Not from your ropes.
Life in Front of Counters
We must be dangerous.
We are bounded with razor wire, bricks and bus-stops.
Mr. Hero and the welfare clerk alike protected
behind Vaseline-thick glass.
Because we need worlds of purple and
Pop-can sculptures and
plastic flowers on chain link. We
and necessity needs nonessentials
Or our survival is insufficient.
A rich kid decides, like, sure, he
Wants to be an artist/writer/singer.
Here, they say, right this way.
Did you fail? Adorable. Try again
and gliding through our atmosphere
In space shuttle Pontiacs,
He never sees the boundaries he breaks.
A poor kid needs to make,
And they say ain’t no way:
It’s all on the other side of that glass
With vacation photos and coffee mugs and lives
as far as galaxies.
Our hands can slide otter-like into the steel depression
Our fingertips wriggle in that rarified air but
We live our lives in front of counters,
between chains, outside of walls;
We are bounded, but we
have time to yearn.