Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Paper Milk Vitamin
Topaz eye, a hurricane
that rips the pages until the spine sprains,
until the foot on which it spun swells,
until the knee of the wind straightens and extends
until the common tongue pants for dexterity in the air.
Then the hands are released. Leaves
push on the earth; push on the body.
Leaves push the body on a sexual partner.
One day the leaves became the pages
or the pages became leaves
and surrounded you at eye level.
We collected and assembled what could be caught
and this became our paper milk vitamin.
Who can ingest it, alive as page in me?
When the alphabet will tense
just as the body it masters.
• • •
I’m walking into Central Park
wearing my cobalt blue headphones
in argument with every voice
that could compel me to its call. I do not indulge
in spontaneity without cause but turn
onto the lawn. It’s that time of day
when the sun lets up and feigns an arousal
on the sides of the hills
and I might let my head out, the transmission
of whatever is
behind this will unexplainably perform.
There is already the accident
of my being here you see
and the smell of a Thursday and the sound
of dead leaves being folded into laminate access passes.
Even a torn twig from a branch like a disembodied finger
I was coming from the dentist but the children
are all in on it their ears pricked for data
of outside interference; they are Vikings in the kingdom
preparing a tiny siege.
I lie in the center spread out in offering.
• • •
Defeat of the Natural World
The mercury helmet will not hold
dripping on the face
and the moon responds
to dry the pines’ branched
neurons into swords
defending from the arrival
of a song that could interrupt
The cables arrive and tap the glass
as soil and charged to inhabit
the mind as an amulet
or tuberous root intended
to be swelling gold tones in the air
competition of vibrancy and sap,
an elixir of the bee.
The throne is green,
carpeted with water plants
and weaving felt ferns
as the wood like the spine
contorts and becomes pocked
for the inhabitation
of a silk moth, imperial and sparkling
as the curtains are the first
material to concede.
Inside the flesh, the glove of air:
slate and a lung
of ginseng, the eyebulbs
making their opened way,
the yellowing irises, the enemy
of ochre palaces
is entered as snails attack
the calcium on the piano such that
the teeth cannot be played.
The torso has fallen
but the animal textiles are alive,
the ivy pulls the ceiling
to expose the original skull
as would a beheaded chapel
making way for the blue vault
as it searches lips.
The corona is positioned
plugged into the temples
to spark the pupils: two pools
of gasoline. The roots
collude into a harp, the fingers
lured to strings, warp and wrap
until the mouth
is as red as the heart.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism—James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—a hundred years on.
Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.