but dresses dressed in dresses are dresses
The dress says I will frame your beauty
when I bury you. The dress is a chateau
of ghosts demanding don’t go, don’t love
your nakedness. It is the vehicle, the volta
that comes too soon, without steering, only
sash for a wheel. Let it fly loose, grip yourself.
The dress is a liar laced with history’s lies.
Your beauty needs no frame; pivot on this
exposé as the body drowns its cargo
of blues beneath a voluminous red dress
that enters the room before you do.
Let it go on ahead, swirl its cliché, evoke
whatever gazes it can. That nakedness
you do love refigures any space you choose.
Department of Brokenness
The desert is an armory of black tires.
Assemble the animals. Assemble
the murder ballads, and the trembling
shadows. Silence strung along barbwire
catches the heat, the threat against flesh,
and starts to hum. Always the eye believes
human forms will emerge, some voice
will clear debris, give guidance or light.
Instead, fading notes, roadkill. A mass
of songless bodies trussed tight with shoulder
holsters. The weathervane no longer moves,
the land is out of breath. Assemble
every muted scarecrow. Every body’s
just as frail, and even the silence lies.
Solve for X
Everything is loss and the longing for
connection, but the ache of vacancy
has no home. Brittle stem flower—headless,
every planted thing knows its own uprooting,
knows that this is the way we wound—
sometimes a needle, sometimes a shovel.
Morning’s wasp-bright sting turns bodies
to stories of wreckage, of folly, the dull
thudding steps we plot for going on.
If salve or salvage exist somewhere,
do the stories weave what leads us there
away from the garden’s rot, obit, subplot,
toward something less dark. Not quite song
or sugar water, but a wrought ripe, sunlit.
Our primary approach is one in which each of us decides on a specific poetic form (sonnet, cento, glosa, pantoum, etc.); or, in some cases, we merely make a decision about stanzaic length (for example, we may choose to write in couplets). We then begin a stanza, establishing its length as well as any other parameters, before giving it to the other person through differing collaborative encounters including email, text, phone conversations, and bi-weekly meetings. During our meetings (typically over a glass of Malbec), we discuss new topics and possibilities as we reflect on our discoveries about our collaborations. We continue to develop those ideas as we write, editing as we go along as well as after each poem is completed. The sonnet seems particularly suited to a two-person collaboration due to its dialogic nature, and so we find ourselves returning to this form frequently.