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A book coming out of its binding, fraying
cardboard corners. Informal, ok, is the way to.
What opens up is consciousness, you bother
to use your heart, your blood goes around
without you wanting it to. Is it a switching,
is there something exchanged, a continent?
My oxygen, my wilderness, the pages of.
I like the way wisteria has to be threaded around
frame structures. I love the smell of lamb. I like
to remember. I like to be formal, as in shapeliness
or planned somehow. Then to lose the plan, and let
what happen. It lets you feel joy, the real thing, not
just its implications. Your eye follows the branch as
it curls around our house, you wanting to follow it too.
You, you hook me, I like it that way.
I couldn't keep this as a secret. That
in my heart is the zoo. The cages and
the animals and the overwhelmingness of
it all, you just want to stick your hand in
to pet the tiger. Not just now, not just once.
The heart's fur. That dangerous softness.
I love the looking, to see over, see giraffes,
to pet the giraffe from a platform, the sexuality
of feeding them, their long black tongues.
How enviable! The old one, the oldest one,
these luscious attachments, you are the way
the sweat of your hands taste. Full of salt,
knowing. You are the sugar you carry inside you.
To anyone who was frightened. To start.
To be chopped up and fed to the right wolves.
To explain why you are free, and what you
did with your chances. To run headfirst.
To know your worth by who is chasing you.
There's a reason why these things happen.
I thought of luck. I won't need it anymore.
I can feel. That it's me, with my
arms around your hips. Half sung,
that kind of moving. You could be
the sea road, you are the one who
points. The sleepy houses, maybe
touch my elbow. Seamless, as I am led
into this world. This understanding, felt.
Or at the time, the misses, the hand upon the
various switches, you pulled up on the heavenly
knob until it said open and I said what is right
and wondrous, only without so many consonants,
I mean I finally meant all the vowels I could think of.
And my name, it was no longer my name, it was
that good, I couldn't even remember my name.
Hugh Steinberg teaches at California College of the Arts and is the editor of Freehand, a new journal devoted to handwritten work. His poems have been published in Crowd, Cue, Dirt, Fence, Slope, Swerve, and the Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel.
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