As a child a painted turtle found me, so I
made a cage for him, but by the next morning
he had disappeared. I assumed that the turtle
was a him because I was a him and needed to
Ammons was onto something when he asked,
Is freedom identity without identity?
I cannot not look at the back of the man’s
shaved head. His occipital lobe and neck
twitch. A neurological trauma? When he
boarded the bus I detected confidence and
defeat. A grave demeanor. His handsomeness.
It appeared to me that he needed care, and I
imagined him with me.
I want to know what monks do at night, how
they handle their bodies and surprise.
It is as if desire takes a snapshot of the man
that prompted said desire and these snapshots
collectively influence the itch growing within
the groin’s groin.
I notice two young men. One’s much taller
than the other. The shorter one’s asleep, head
resting on the tall one’s shoulder. They don’t
speak English. This is what brotherhood
looks like in many countries, but not America.
There is another man in his twenties on this
bus, but he sits alone. I heard him say to
another passenger that he’s going to Berlin.
The other Berlin. The one in New
Hampshire. He has many tattoos on his
hands. He wears a gray hoodie, a black
baseball cap with a round decal on the visor,
Malcolm X eyeglasses, and bright red
sneakers. He listens to EDM, and during a
phone convo tells his friend to stop buggin’ out.
From this great distance the dark clouds
behind the white ones look like a large
mountain. We talk about getting ice cream,
but my father stays home. He doesn’t like to
venture. I feel guilty.
Have I become too personal here?
My mother says, They changed the weather and I
correct her each time. Why this impulse to
revise her? I know she meant to say, They
changed the forecast. She wakes from her own
talking. This is what I tell her. When she talks
in the morning I tell her that I need mornings
to be quiet. But this morning, for this first
time, she said nothing, and it felt like death.
There is a mother who likes to talk and nearby
birds flutter to all the windows to hear her.
No. There is a mother who likes to talk to her
son in the morning and he likes to hear her
I break each morning as if emerging from the
sea—this underworld of disorientation and
gasp, and the pressing thoughts about
entering a room.
My friend’s six-year-old screams for an hour
this morning before church because he can’t
find any clothes that feel good. Another child
tells me in a dream, “Just because I am a
conduit doesn’t mean that I am a parrot!”
I understand that this vocabulary is overused:
heart, silence, and nothingness (Ammons’ favorite
word). I refer to birds too often.
I notice how much more feeble my dad has
become. He says, It will expire on July 31st, but
he’s talking about a buy-one-get-one-free
coupon for pizza. The English language
confuses me. How is your dad? and How are
you? I don’t know how to answer.
Two men walk into a Laundromat. They wear
identical neon jackets with thin black stripes.
Earlier, the taller one asked if there were
bathrooms here. The other asked how long I’d
been here and if I’d seen a Swisher Sweets tin.
They just returned and the shorter one asks if
there is a bathroom here and I say, You asked
this before. He responds, That wasn’t me that
asked— it was him.
In New Hampshire, driving with a friend late
at night, our headlights suddenly shine on the
explicit inside-out pink of a deer, its meat, and
then an 18-wheeler on the side of the road.
Or the dog owner reads a newspaper. I feel
tense passing his bull terrier on a leash. After I
pass, the sudden sound of two dogs, one
lunges at another. I feel responsible.
Or I take my time this morning and while
waiting for the bus hear a woman on her cell
ask, Why call me if you’re not going to talk?
Or I was running late, as were the busses. I
didn’t know this until it was too late.
This wind will make the mind fall down and
dearest word, any word, please leave the
indoors for outside. As I get older robins
allow me to get closer.
I write the following in a letter, “Carpe diem.
Denim. Carpet. Rug. Ragout. Dug out. Out of
the closet. There are reasons to hide.”