give me winter

My neighbor draws hands like houses, chipped of paint and curled against the sun. He drags charcoal mostly, and enjoys the audits of his daughter.  She knows her father by the cracked faces he pulls from his shirt pocket, people bent over their craft, winced in their subsistence.

Consider the ratchets we've set to him, the buckles to his wrists and the bit on his tongue
which takes stories gleaned on the eye and buries them like roots packed too tightly in the earth.

This warmth, this easy prairie frequented by peddlers of sloth and shriven men, it is retreat's great stage.  It sinks the ties and sets our tracks to the lying sun, when what we need is night, what we need are the forest leaves in retreat, the clandestine dispatches that come in advance of the whip winds and frost to empty the unhardy tracts and ready the bodies for sharp breaths.

give me winter

The danger I've seen is in the slow sweat, the crawl of skin that says don't move don't think don't lift yourself to become that creator, your world is full.  Suffer the sun, the day in the light you'll log your fare and be a man thankful for rest.  the turn of those words will snag.  don't make my neighbor a man thankful for rest but from time to time a thankful man that rests.

give me whole states of breathless grass, frozen upright on the hills.  give me young men, delirious laid out on concrete swearing that good infinity above them is better read when man leans away from the sun.  give me the sisters who pilgrim up the logging roads. let me sing quiet and shivering as they sink their hands in the clearings and resolve to bring back the earth to where they go from here.


you got this boy walkin
in mine town hills
his blood's in the bricks and copper now
and his eyes are seasoned,
by these weights they're bowed

he is the maker of winter
hands trained blind,
for all his seasons in the soul's dark night

on a crow's call
and the gargle itch of Irish whiskey in a protestant throat
I think of him
think of his hands
that crinkle and dust
like the fall leaves that heal everything
being broken and smeared
into the hungry ground

he stows lessons in black lake waters
and does not negotiate their release
sometimes the smiling hoards of winter come
with violins and banjos
and my friend points them to the lake
where he set down his secrets

Passed Down

I'm sure you remember the night grandpa died
Meike had come,
and us in our little apartment
Bjorn was speeding into New Mexico with a heading for the map's empty of left Texas
past the pilgrims for South by Southwest
he got me on the phone
i closed the dual doors to the bathroom and stood by the counter whispering
wondering if i should call my mom and crawl into the bathtub
fuck inheritance
damning to flip the river and see a banker looking up at you, while
your brother runs fifteen hours by night to capture a
day with two broken women
he's gonna send that rock face carrying his mother's fresh loss and just
as i've straightened to hear my sentence for negligence
and half human impulse
my mother phones.
she got there before he went.

Over Beibei

marble balcony of Southwest's international dorm
my back to the 5th floor pillars, an overlook
to the entry and the north road winding into campus

somewhere notes i wrote there about central China's humid nights and
the stumbles of her imperial wander to power

footsteps come up the staircase inside, laughter and perfume billow
to me
on the balcony
Friday excited and freed electric
alive with sex and the like-nothing-else open sky of new country
and I smile, close eyes against stone

the Germans have a party
Zimbabweans, Brazilians,Tanzanians
and somehow they all know Portuguese
but its a Russian tongue that finds me on the window stoop
fixed on me, despite her friends
generous of confidence and space

she can't know the barriers in my chest,
built there slowly by my hands rubbed clean
of prayer and guilt like sediment from the strange strength of a monastic youth
how already twisting in my lungs was a different answer to her offer,
one that saw and reached for the thread uninterrupted
between her hair and the eastern night that waved it just so

that she was part of an answer to 'why'
about all things
that creation's line ran through her
that though I would struggle with cowardice
my kin were the currents in Jin Dao gorge and the 800 year old stone
along the Lijiang streams
that I was not as young and new
as the wretched language of no I had mastered

but i learned slower than that balcony would've wanted for me
heroes were made and lost in the air

and the fire of human newness
brilliant faces and only-first-names lit mad with want
in the stowed-aside marble coves of earth's raucous balconies
cannot be served
in frightened posture or
the slinking away of the soul

The Ray

i was probably readying a worthless coin to be shuffled out the driver's window

the crutch man knew our car
he made his legs work beneath him
by throwing and catching them at angles propped against the pavement

polio hadn't taken his limbs so much as caused them to be repurposed
we usually smiled over a traded franc
"good luck"s and "good bless you"s

the black top steamed, the ocean town air stuffed of liquid and moto smoke
and the vapors of unmoving sewage.

across the median the queues honked furiously,
they skirted a downed moto
each next car to reach the front of the impasse
uncertain of how to regard the small line of brain and blood in a ray
from a young man's head
stretched quietly on the avenue

Old Tin Basin

i will not speak
you may if you like but
here on the floor
below you, i'll
take your feet.
drag the basin close,
dented metal and stiff, wearing patchy gray and the brief bite
of hot water, a simple soap and I'll
wash you.
just listen to us, water and tin
let's be quiet, see what reads in the
worn press prints of your soles, let's
be just like the quiet. let the world sleep or
walk by in the night, but
i'll pursuit these lines, run your knuckles and tell you
things in the old contraband murmurs, language
cast cross the quiet lines of
divided Babel those early days, let's
be quiet lovers on the cordon wall, I'll wash you in a meter
you know and you'll not worry for the voice