Old clam shells heaped on a concrete bib
outside the cellar door,
hose kinked and tangled,
a mop, a few bleached femurs,
one ancient, whale shaped jawbone,
rotting at the tip,
a few birds sing, some shingles
missing from the shed
tar paper curl.

Twenty percent of the suicides
at a certain Connecticut hospital
are battered wives.
No, they don’t like it, don’t enjoy
being beaten, the expert says,
but they’re desperate.
They don’t know what to do.
They have nowhere to go.
So sometimes they kill the husband,
with a knife or a pair of scissors
from the sewing drawer.

I understand Ryoki’s turbulent passion,
love of the ocean’s movement
underneath him,
reluctance to tarry.

Don’t mock me, crow. Not here
in this ramshackle valley.
Cold-fisted. Arrogant. Brash.
Unfolding the layers of darkness.
The geometry of your heart. Oh,
if I could plot it,
then I would have you
at last where I want you.
Inside of my brain.

Breeze cool. Light diffused slightly
in humid air.
No clouds, though:
the perfect day.
A lark dives,
curves and bends
his arc back skyward.
The dog doesn’t care
if her tail’s in a puddle.

I know how it happens: Two people meet,
and the hesitancy of laughter
or the musculature of a shoulder
turns out to be deadly.
This cannot be ended
until we have let it
consume us.

We must carry it through to the end.

It is not possession merely,
nor reduction to abstraction,
this nervous interchange
of thought and feeling.

The organs of perception:
the reality of the brain.
Its folds. Its armour plating.

We need this completion,
this lusting for wholeness.
The ocean itself a woman,
the vessel a prison.
Each day a thirsty adventure.

A rackety town left behind
in the crisscrossing currents.


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