Sleep will elude me no longer with her silver tongue. I have bought her silence from a horned god: half goat, half lion with a banker’s dreamless fingers. His purse yawns open to take its paper medicine while she, my darling captive, stares past me, like no hollow-eyed face in the mirror I’ve ever seen. Perhaps there’s someone behind me, some rider, some mare. I don’t know. She’s not talking. And the room’s beginning to tilt and turn dark.
I died with the word I on my lips.
It only took a moment,
a slight pause as if for a line-
break or a comma, a panicked thought
or the time required for an 8-ball
to cross the baize. I died,
and the cities I harbor gave way
to squalid refugee camps
where the moon went
through a new phase
of never getting out of bed.
They fed it on thin broth
that tasted like a landlocked sea.
And there I floated like Moses
in my open casket waiting to be
adopted by Mother Earth—
to be somehow seen again, if only
by the mute-belled lilies of the valley
and their brawny, tawny bee.
Fallen how? As bruised fruit, windfall—
an unlooked-for fortune? As felled tree
ready to be resourced into board feet?
No. It is we who have fallen into
our own trap, which we can’t keep shut.
She’s more resourceful than a bodhisattva.
Her limbs proliferate, as if
in an arms race with an octopus,
that other escape artist of the deep.
She practices anemochory.
Only the policeman’s black mustache
is better at improvising flight.
The song of the womb begins
on a minor key among the bivalves
and sea cucumbers, whose tunes
are all palindromes and serve
a purely decorative purpose.
The song of the womb sounds best
played by a full orchestra, despite
the many adaptations for solo flute.
It’s got rhythm—that probably goes
without saying—and sheet music.
It can be used to communicate
over great distances underwater.
Scientists say the song of the womb
may predate the evolution
of consciousness! It is not, however,
the first choice of the womb itself,
which prefers bossa nova
and the occasional hymn
for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Lion of empire every sun
must remind you of the veldt
the burning eyes of rivals
the bleats of prey but now
when you hear rain that’s
a crowd stampeding to escape
and when you hear thunder
that’s the big guns going off
and when you hear drip
drip drip drip that’s peace.
They say not to pull
the wings off angels
as a lesson to the rest
of the colony. They say
torture only leads
to bad information,
which must be why Satan
has always seemed so
But it’s a power trip,
isn’t it, and without
power, no light.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it smoke
and smolder like the burnt
offering that it is,
to the atmosphere.
The earth has been
a bad mother—
so many tedious warnings
about putting our eyes out
or living beyond our means
and I’m tired
of being grounded.
Elon Musk appeared
to me in a dream
and he was looking crafty—
he will hire me when
The Boring Company
merges with SpaceX
and it’s time to start
excavating fresh hells
up on the moon.