for Oliver Bendorf

On you we barnacles
           cling and scratch,
                     your rising fog burning through,
great cliff down which
           we knuckle and toehold twist
                     into a strain of understanding

tongue’s pleasure and dominatrix,
           choking hazard, descended larynx,
                     slave to the hand, head and heart’s
highwayman on his road between,
           word horde, talk exchange,
                     the ballroom where our questions meet,
green idea, sleeping furious seed,
           of eye from ear bone, taxonomist

old man cogitator in his algebra
           of syntax, boxing the world
                     into a geometric form,
gender-sorter, color-shifter, arranger
           and maker of past, present, and future
                     a hole in which to dig our secrets

an ear for lies to spin, diviner
           and deceiver, definer,
                     body’s virus with a branch structure
dividing flit from focus, from air
           without which no never,
                     the buckle of between,
a kind of bridge we breech or break,
           what if’s worry chain and erecting architecture

of idea and love and loss and lie and lesson
           all of it lessening, gossip and glamour,
                     nerve and jargon generator,
fossilized lizard warden
           of the brain’s deep locker,
a weak verb’s fail, failed,
           and failing that and better, all coupled
                     with our own noun’s stammer.