Note-Taking while Reading Gravity and Grace
To imagine nothing, place
baubles in the liar’s teeth.
The present is a flowering shrub.
The present is a woman’s face
in the screen’s glow.
Drink barium to illuminate
your insides prior to
extracting the troubled
organs of the self.
For ligatures to holiness,
expiate a fund. For returns,
cough on more dry air
until the dust becomes
as tasteless as the water.
To honor the dead, forget them.
To put a blank in brackets
ape the many stones
the universe has scattered
at your door but do not learn
their names. One can never
be what one can accurately
Leave the innumerable planets
to gravity’s devices.
The future is a desiccated organ,
the present a salt barrel
where the butchered meat’s
Instructions for Shedding Your Name
For each pseudonym, set aside a crow.
Send the bird out into the winter
with a length of tattered string and a bald cry.
Say, “Two birds in the hand.”
Say, “If the good Lord’s willing.”
When writing in the spring,
do not speak of winter. Know that
the inverse rule does not apply.
For each silence, set aside an inoperable clock.
For each face of time, an emblem.
“When does a keeper of time
become an emblem of time?” ask.
For each forlorn straggler, set aside
a still green creek. Some will not speak
when spoken to; they will leave
the prattle to the crows. For each rookery,
set aside a blighted elm. For avian chatter,
a straggler’s sob story.
Epistle to the Innocent
But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime. — James Baldwin
Dear happy tenant, as the yellow house across the road
recedes into the night, their killing outpaces your intentions.
Dear Joy, Elation, Mirth, your dog carries a shadow in its teeth,
and your euphemisms do not recuse you. This light isn’t peculiar.
At no hour can the light be called “peculiar,” though we have
peculiar words for light: crepuscular, prismatic, refulgent.
Your shadow stands before them like a square mouth.
A throat clears, a sensor light goes off, radiating a blank
in your sight. Grace is the shape of light that isn’t cast,
a cloak the dead will never wear, so stop moving your feet, stop
localizing sin, especially in the hands. You can only reach
for what is in your reach. Your figure elongates into obscenity as you call
the animal back, ignoring its news about the dark. Go forth:
enumerate the bodies. Count your habits before the glowing wreath.