Thrown Bricks

                                for Zena

you say
     life is a building collapse
     a stone rain
     a brick fusillade

you are forensic of
struck shoulders,
bowed backs,
chipped teeth admixed 
in stony splinters
and you say
     life, you are a
     a despised dissolution
     a slow chemical burn 

     you are a grave
     an ash fault
     a burial mound of
     hungry mouths. life,
     you are the
     most subtle drug

and, as
you deign,
you say 

     there is 
     no thing
     not unclean
     no thing
you say that
     no one has ever
     seen the sky

so you say
and shrug

even though the storm
will never clear
you raise your eyes
heave bricks at heaven
laugh amid
the smoke of ruin
bloody-knuckled and
    all the dead 
    to be sunlight

Rust Brother, never can savvy you

a wry­neck for Was­covich

If we were rust broth­ers before the rain and salt   Before
there were no scarci­ties of tanks to tread

Before the slow toe    ware­house of sound was a real
knife in my head   Before the shine of steel nativ­i­ty

Before we trussed the tracks for holo­caust   Before
sanc­ti­ty for­est mur­der black-coat cacoph­o­ny

If we are rust, broth­er

Th[r]ough beer stale trac­eries and graf­fi­ti pis­sers
Though rage-cocked shout mas­tery pays no bills

Th[r]ough the bend sin­is­ter wend­ing neigh­bor indo­lent
inso­lence nev­erend­ing

Though weeks pass between fistclicks Though through
the rough thought caus­tic chaos mean­ing emer­gent life spark

Still we rust broth­ers


-for Nick Traenkner

There is alcohol in me tonight, alcohol
and yes I have breathed in smoke and
breathed it back out out to you surrounded
by words unctuous, bombastic, evangelical.

Dress me in horse hair, the hair what was once
a horse and a belt of leather from what was once
a cow so costumed words take on legitimacy

or invest me in silks as the new pope of continual
omnipotent excess. The dirt of life is death
death death! The dirt of life is the fruit of death.
The dirt of life is a scientific experiment where

you tread on wheels while I spume and wrack at
you, your bare feet hatched with the turning
tide. Proud in persistence. I will talk until

you listen.

To Box With Man

          -for Eric Alle­man

He works at
the Record Exchange.   I didn’t
know this until I
saw him there.

I knew him despite
his lost
play-off beard.   He did not
know me.

   He was not
friend­ly, this man of intent

His voice:
   a thumb
   hold­ing your face
   to the wall.

        you hear some­thing


I’m writ­ing poems about poets I’ve seen in Cleve­land. They’re meant to be read in the read­ing styles of afore­men­tioned poets.

V—In Case of Emergency Break Poem

     -for r.a.washington

These are-
gran­ite days,
they demand-
hard men,
of strange shapes
must blend in

We split
the rift
broth­er gives
grift- but my
words are
for­eign cur­ren­cy
in his hands.

The song­birds
The long words
spill into our
ears- “from
whence came ye,
wan­der­er? to
loi­ter in the eaves
of spring.”

     “I can­not fid­dle,
     but I can make
     a great state
     from a lit­tle city.“1
     Local anom­alies
     in the sec­ond law
     of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics.2
     -raw vocal­ized.

the candle’s wick.
The times change
and light mul­ti­plies
but men remain
the same. Their
tongues estranged
by tax­on­o­my.

I hit you
because I am
And you are not
like me.
I am small, but

Any truce
seg­re­gates our
speech, as war is
two cheap­er
than peace.

How do I solve
for x in a lan­guage
that has no let­ters?

these rid­dles of
arrang­ing adjec­tives.

1 cf. Themis­to­cles
2 cf. James Blish

I’ve been work­ing on this for a few weeks now and I think it is final­ly sound­ing good enough to appear here. I’m still try­ing to tight­en up some of the words and images, and smooth out some of the rhyme. Any sug­ges­tions or ques­tions or work­shop­ping would be appre­ci­at­ed.