Bubbly Creek

One long arm of it is blind, and the filth
stays there forever and a day. It is
constantly in motion as if huge fish
were feeding in it, or great leviathans
disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles
of carbonic gas will rise to the surface
and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide.

Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid,
and the creek looks like a bed of lava;
chickens walk about on it, feeding,
and many times an unwary stranger
has started to stroll across and vanished
temporarily. The packers used to leave
the creek that way, till every now and then
the surface would catch on fire and burn
furiously, and the fire department
would have to come and put it out.

Once,
an ingenious stranger came and started
to gather this filth in scows, to make lard;
then the packers took the cue, and got out
an injunction to stop him, and afterwards
gathered it themselves. The banks are plastered
thick with hairs, and this also the packers
gather and clean.

(From Bubbly Creek on Wikipedia)

Horseback to Palm Canyon

Dear mother dad sweetheart gang wife
hubby girls boys old kid

How are you? I am fine 
happy lonesome sad broke flying 
high enjoying the desert

Wish I had you a letter more ambition
someone to love me more sleep

Things are wonderful lovely exciting

I have seen the mountains the desert
lots of pretty girls 
lots of handsome men 
the desert sunset desert wildflowers 
the canyons

Doing lots of sightseeing loafing
sleeping hiking sun-bathing 
swimming golfing celebrating
playing tennis bicycle riding

I rode horseback to Palm Canyon
on the Skyline trail in the moonlight
on the desert on the Araby trail
to Andreas Canyon to Seven Palms

I’m staying at the
I danced at
I dined at

Will be seeing you away a little longer
thinking of you writing you again
hitting the hay stepping out

Yours ‘till the cows come home 
with love forever sincerely

Name

(The Lazy Person’s Correspondence Card from Palm Springs)

Some women

They take off their clothes
and smear honey all over their naked body.

They roll themselves
back and forth
over wheat
on a sheet
spread on the ground.

They carefully collect all the grains sticking to their moist body
put them in a mill,
turn the mill
in the opposite direction of the sun
grind the wheat
into flour
and bake bread from it.

They serve it to their husbands to eat
who then grow weak
and die.

Do penance for forty days on bread and water.

(From The Joy of Confessing: “Women’s Vices” and Burchard’s Decretum of 1003)

How you die

I strip in the doorway when I get home,
stand in the shower too tired to think or cry.
I sing Happy Birthday twice over every
part of my body. At work I can’t eat,
at night I can’t sleep. The dreams I have now
have only three themes: gasping for breath,
wiping things down, somehow, by accident,
being touched by somebody. Did you ever wake
in those last moments, or in your sedation
did you ever dream? I still wake some days
with a small beat like a held breath before
the truth of this new world hits me. Be safe
say the families I call on the phone.
Your name is a poem I’m required to keep
to myself.

This is the day you start to turn.
What we suck up from your lungs turns frothy pink
and then the frank red of blood. There are tests
but no one willing to run them — you are too sick
and you have never cleared the virus. No one
would ever want to be what you are now:
a hazard, a threat, a frightening object
on the edge of death. We try not to touch you.

Stronger together say the screen savers
on every screen in the hospital, the banners
on the sides of the shuttle bus. What I’ll see
is just how much this isn’t true, how so many
of our sickest patients are Black or Brown like you.
I will see a forty-six-year-old Black man,
infected with SARS-CoV-2, die instead
from having a police officer kneel on his neck.
I will see those who protest police brutality,
though masked and mostly peaceful, tear-gassed
and shot with rubber bullets. I will see
your death multiplied by ten thousand,
by a hundred thousand, all those bodies,
mothers and fathers, daughters and sons.

With my arms at my sides, I watch through the glass.
I have never mattered less in my entire life.
And this is how you die, near no one who
ever loved you, a spectacle of futility
and fear. Time is called, and someone calls your
husband, and it isn’t me. I am not the one
who hears him cry out in grief.

(From The New Stability)

Let it be known

I leave this vessel
for the lowest of the low
not only as a testament
to the act of your human transgression
but also as a tomb,
a tomb for you.

So that when you are near death
your smallness can climb in
through the hole you left
where the spout once was
and lay yourself down
in the vacuous space
and die a thieves death alone,
pitiless, without a single soul
to remember you.

You will take your last breath
void of any true feelings
of love or decency for others.

(A note on an antique in a Michigan store)

Because I have not done any writing

When I wake early I say to myself
Fight, fight.
If I could catch the feeling, I would;
the feeling of the singing of the real world.

Virginia Woolf

In the last weeks I’ve taken up, and put aside,
woodcutting, drawing, German. I’ve cooked
and painted walls and baked. Several weeks in,
I caved and made a sourdough starter (it really
does seem miraculous, the raising of bread).
Watched the lilac, then the climbing rose,
then the honeysuckle bloom. Planted sweet peas
and watched them sprout. I know I am fortunate.
Sat in the small, overlooked garden,
for which I’ve never been more grateful,
with a book unread in my lap, picking up
and putting down my phone, listening
to building works and the radios of neighbours,
staring into this fragrant, sunny, confined
space. I can’t settle to anything.

This is not the time to try Proust again.
I have found brief solaces in Boccaccio’s
Decameron: the people of fourteenth century
Florence spent the plague years holed up and drinking,
or otherwise abstemiously not drinking,
or they lived riotously in the streets,
no longer caring. A group – call it a bubble –
of noblewomen and men retreat to the hills,
to villas decked with broom blossom, and fine wine
for breakfast, and brief, funny, tragic, dirty stories.

I record sudden lapses in time, and languors.
I record the rose, the honeysuckle,
seeing Venus in the sky, at its brightest.
A week passes without my noticing,
and writing the date in the diary I record
my surprise that this has happened. Then
another week passes, and I do the same.

(From I am not reading. I am not writing. This is not normal)

#FFF8E7

Cosmic latte is the average colour
of the universe.

Like Fraunhofer lines
the dark lines displayed
in the study’s spectral ranges
display older and younger stars
and allow Glazebrook and Baldry
to determine the age
of different galaxies
and star systems.

Their survey of the light
from over 200,000 galaxies
averaged to a slightly
beigeish white.

Cappuccino Cosmico, Skyvory
Big Bang Buff, Blush, Beige
Primordial Clam Chowder
Cosmic Latte, Cosmic Cream
Astronomer Almond , Univeige
Cosmic Khaki, Astronomer Green

Latteo means Milky in Italian
Galileo’s native language. It also leads
to the similarity to the Italian term
for the Milky Way, Via Lattea.

They also claimed
to be caffeine biased.

(From Cosmic latte on Wikipedia)