I roam the Luxemburg Gardens
in apotropaic lusters, in my long, blood
red leather skirt from the last century,
in my blood red eyelashes, hell red nails,
I roam one instance at a time as history circulates
the bloodstream in strange ash and crescents.
There’s more to the story—that my mother
tried to kill herself my first year of college,
that I came back home from rollerblading
and she was lying by the front door,
that it was the day I understood Real Estate Websites
that I had spent those years drinking and fucking
men women anyone old young
didn’t matter to me trying to forget Paper Art
that I was a little shoplifter too—starting with nail
polish and eyeliner, ending with bras, underwear,
a pair of satin gold pants from a shop on
Westwood Blvd, the shop owner
chased me down the street, yelled thief
but I just wanted to Holy Ghost it all away and let beauty
just happen, inhale the plants, I could become
exhaust—someone without a past, without countries,
or the bullshit of stories, or the maternal, because
when my mother looked at me, I reminded her
of everything she hated, the heavy lineage
no one should have to carry, now I understand
what that means, to have to carry it from one
country to the next, one year to the next, and that it all
rests in the little thumping heart of an infant,
Who would ever want that? I get it. I get it.
Strolled down Fairfax Ave. one evening—
bought a pastrami sandwich on rye bread
and a vintage maroon leather coat.
That was the start of something.
My dad rented an apartment in
Beverly Hills for me.
I was 16 and lived alone.
He spent time away.
Don’t know what.
Worked for the government.
Married five times.
Better not to know.
I started writing poetry.
There’s a journal right here.
I wrote, “memories thrown
together like a puzzle.”
La Cienega. Something
my fingertips. I rhymed it
with “muzzle.” If this was
a Bildungsroman and not
an elegy or family history,
I would say it
was the day I really saw
the crescent moon.
I called a guy. We took the elevator
to the top of a metallic hotel
in Santa Monica.
All that glass and iron.
Nothing bad happened. We talked
about Bob Dylan or Rilke.
Squares, o square in Paris, infinite show place,
where the modiste Madame Lamort
winds and binds the restless ways of the world
He asked me to
read his screenplay. It was good.
Later he made a movie with Kirsten Dunst.
I’m getting off track.
Those endless ribbons
He got kicked out of film school.
He spent all his money on a Cadillac and cocaine.
Frill, flower, and fruit
I’m really getting off track now.
The cheap winter hats of Fate
My point was it was the first day I really saw
the moon like a poet does.
Grass seed in wind, airstream data, years
broken into carbon bits enclosed Poetry
by the haze of screens, cursors gasping
like a thunderstorm over Versailles Pie
and inside the blooming flares of marjoram
flowers in terracotta pots, a phantom Poodles
maid glides through these hydraulic gardens,
these centuries of glare, cut the stems, Red Bull
dried them in a marble room. Reese Witherspoon
I gravitate toward people
without last names,
to the interval-strewn
rose quarry where
funnel stamens and hooks.
But if beauty is
a zero murmuring,
as you have taught me,
to sing so cryptically,
and have led me
by the breath
to where no sound
escapes, the rippling gut
of a star, then why
make me resentful?
Maybe I enjoy these
since they bridge what was
and what could not have been.
in the mountains
to blow up
the train tracks
the Nazis from
the tracks below
at the wall
smoking a cigarette
with his comrades,
not have had
but to feel
step back from the concourse.
write a lopsided dedication.
wrap yourself with the name ropes.
touch the engraved sockets.
trace the quasi-stellar radio source with your forefinger.
weigh the metaphors on the bathroom scale.
weave your insignia in my throat.
Skipped school. Had already almost died
halfway across the world,
could they possibly teach me?
Got into UCLA anyway.
Went to Venice Beach to smoke weed
out of an apple
with my boyfriend and to look at sunglasses.
He was nice. Also Jewish.
The sunglasses were hearts
and if you bought them for me now,
my narrative would turn iridescent.
Raised by a single mom, etc.
Grew up in the Valley, etc. When I was wasted,
he was very sweet to me and made me drink
lots of water. His mom watched TV all day and night.
He would scold her for this but hey, that’s life.
I broke up with him for no reason.
That I can’t remember
his last name.
Evan sweet first boyfriend something.
We are speeding down the Georgia highway at night.
At the very end of wars, tragedies occur.
The deer was already dead.
They were told to go to a shelter.
I can feel my brain shake in my skull.
She wanted to stay behind “just for 10 minutes”
“What the fuck did we drive over? Get off at this exit.”
They didn’t have time to see the extinguishing fill the sky.
White intestines hanging from the fender of the Corolla.
I throw up by the gas pump.
It was coming for them all along.
“How do we know it was a deer?”
They died running.
I pick up your correspondences
in a forest of texts, your
correspondences in the texts of
forest on the floor you are naked
and I am in Paris full of that orange,
sea horse-shaped light streaming
through a balcony curtain that reminds me
that you are a future, that the data
has fallen away from
the stanzas and I am thread
of poetic thought that has taken me
to a landscape past recognition,
taken me to see dusk dwindling
and wrapping around the oval cedars.
Oh love, I have said too much.
But say a thing or two more. Okay.
That neither of my grandparents were
allowed to go to school past 5th grade,
that the you is troubled, that the you has
changed—doubled and tripled—
that the treble clef of weather is the anonymous
love letter I keep writing to cumulous
clouds, that I want to tell you that even
the simplest statement (let me in / let me out)
is poetry and your eyes are my shadows,
and my shadows are the ditches of history.
In the whoosh of the metro, a little girl
with purple barrettes in her hair
sitting across from me says
“Look lady, there’s a dog in my bag.
Lady, do you see it?
There’s a dog in my bag!”
She opens the bag.
There’s nothing inside.
At the Musée D’Orsay, they show a short movie
from 1869. A man in a top hat gets on his knees
and begs a statue of Galatea to come to life.
When her eyes flutter open, she walks towards him
in her toga and his entire body
convulses. He didn’t want
what he wanted, after all. In this allegory for
the crypt of history, poetry, hands,
nightmares, the conjured is always
too powerful for the conjuror.
But also, Paul, what about dreams,
the phantasmagoria of scenes?
The remote snows of Sweden
or the gentle hush of ferns—inside them,
cross-sections of memories on slides—
the infant held by the mother
who arches over it, her hair sweeping down
in films more brilliant than museum reels
and also territories beyond cells— tomatine,
the sands at the bottom of the Seine—you might
have picked up a small handful this time
and held it up to the sky with your hand
which is undead now (as undead as I write this)
and you might have said, “this, here, is mine.”