Within the broken night light, the streetcars pressed
their glow onto the walls hard, hard and stark
like boxy handprints grabbing the ether. To him
and to her and the mothers of the room, such hands
needed no introduction. For him only
do they haunt the blackness for fresh stars, only
for his pale, skinned-white- bone-collective,
a new constellation, a new myth.
He sat to the bent blue world, easing
into the marble like his spine knew a place
in stone. Rock. Rock. Rock a bye, baby,
my baby boy so coos the womb, so coos the strata.
Mother to son, she sings slowly, sound
falling from the pockets of her cheeks
bolding his ears and pulsing him relentless.
My spine white knuckles the world, I swear
my curve paints your sky my color, the baked
middle sunset brown. This back-skin kisses
universe whole, full lipped licking, open
and drooling. Break your neck to the sky, taste me,
let me wallow your gums.
And he says she makes his body pure,
so much white crackling to his pores,
he says, but sets of teeth she has
biting until the rivers run hot again,
and breasts, soft boiled, ladling warmth
over and through the veins. Her skin,
folds on him in one cascading sheet,
skin rising, sinking and he is swimming.
gulping for air under her wetness, his rivers
exposed and branching forth to flow
into the mouth of her ocean, so chilly now.
But son, son, your holes are showing.
I never knew real waves, you salt
water child, but look me now woman,
a whole stranded sand constellation , a sinking
world. Collect my rocks lover,
so you can tell the others of me.
Let us pray.
In the womb, he turned and turned
in the lemon-colored couch, the lobby
of birth and gurgled for some semblance
of sky, of the dried soil.
Mother hovers him,
like an old net, frayed to a scaly sky
and when she moves, the bristles break
loose stars, she shakes wooly shards of night,
each lurid point leaking song over his body,
which is the world.
What weather she wills, son, your holes
have gone to puddles.
Soon too, the dwelling comes, child, I know
and he’ll remember the rounded burial place, my milk
slipping from such swollen holes that they formed
your gravestone, boy body, boy baby.
Remember where he lived and died too,
until we made a new love in the smacking din.
He loved me then, he lived my body.
He sat to nothing and nothing was the world.
Collapsed, sky shivered from him willowing
in blackened waves of bloodied silt. So much wealth
huddled in these banks, a whole fissured
universe browning the white stocks of tile.
Mother knows and coos
Rock, rock, rock a bye and in the biding
recall the earth a while
and in the morning
the ruddy milk, your leftover body,
will be another faded sunrise.
The singing stopped, but the hands continued,
and the boy moved to the rhythm of the floor
and the boy danced to his woman
and the woman kissed him openly
and the mother stood back.
Suture to the banks of my body, whole,
whole like I am your ideal skeleton, one
and only pale puzzle lover. Live
in this, my material, hard ooze melt,
and celebrate the mold.
there. Curl into the weathered under,
crawl the gravel of me, my body too.
That tide is broken and wakes openly
to the shore, spitting freely, its leftover
blanket sprouting starry
limbs to stalk the shore, the drained-colored
rock; we live for the froth that mosses our beach,
our breath never revels its leaving. Sun,
we know the gone time, taste the unmothered
hours, the gummy blue lick of night. Mouth
us, Sun, until you heat our bellies and we lie
with you on the sand. Let us pray.
Each surge flounders the muscle run. Veins,
unstilled, feud the organs till the pores
run blank and the blood branches thicken, I
am the new vague fly, watch me wallow
in fresh spiny husk,
the long arm bristling gristle hair, female?
pushing frenzied fist deep, deep down
where you grab me and roll like putty.
You signal breasts, whittled woman as you
cycle my body in swaddled sleep, wriggling in me.
You shimmy till the sick purple stamps
these teeth, till the mouth swings open
and the buds grow in your milk like weed.
These nipples so burnt puncture like nails, I feed
till these lips drip to the floor, pooling like bruised
kisses to the tile bone. And what of us,
street woman, sweet woman. We
hung skeletal sound in the sopped-grain soil.
Crawl me, baby, color me whole once more
before the daytime seep, before
the nighttime covers cold.
* Above poem awarded 2nd place in the Academy of American Poets Prize category for best single poem as part of the 2012 English Literary Awards.