Thursday, April 9, 2009


the weather: variable winds, cloudy

and showery, moderate temperatures

the immutable’s what despairs. i doubt

stone and throw some and feel whole.

kids play some in the street, holler car

when a car comes. cars come, they call

each other names. don’t call each other

names. rick is a fat chef who drives a

minivan and his son’s so tiny that every

game for him is keep-away. he chases

after a ball, it slams against our door

startling em, who likes the street noise

it reminds her of her country, so the

narrow street’s a deep sadness running

under the play, silent river the kids

bob up and about on. the kids are

innocent, lame hope. rick asks that i

holler car as well. i do. he asks when

am i gonna knock up my wife. i don’t.

we use protection. we protect ourselves

from each other. she looks at me from

across the street, and i wave. where’d

you find her, man, rick laughs. from

a catalog, i say. rick laughs. but rick

wouldn’t put it past me because rick

doesn’t know me. but i feel like i know

rick because he’s easy to talk to so i

like him. we don’t like the unscooped

poop in front of his stoop, so we talk

about it. snoopy is as snoopy does, the

flies buzz. you dog, you. a dog i respect

only for what we call it, and for what

it calls. dog sewn to bark, and seeing

what the tree’s made of. it wears the

dog’s speech and never leaves. how

many trees have i barked up and thought

i got no answer because nothing moved.

our small talk. leave the trolley track

in case we bring the trolley back. dozing

off to its glide inside night of wallpaper

of palm trees on a beach in the backroom

of a house on torresdale ave’s the safest

i ever felt. tomorrow i’ll take you to wool-

worth’s for bubble gum and baseball

cards. can’t beat that with a baseball bat.

my father’d stash his receipts in his wallet,

open it to show me—nothin but receipts,

he’d say laughing. christian boltanski said

he began to work as an artist when he knew

his childhood was finished and was dead.

he said: we all have somebody who is dead

inside of us, a dead child. i remember that

little christian who is dead inside me.

many dead childhoods are philadelphia

many receipts, but philadelphia was never

a child. the city’s a corpse played by a man.

the corpse courses through a man. mapped,

i ghost myself up, a series of currents

driven by receipts. the currency’s a map

of the corpse, which is a grid like a crib

to contain the unpredictable. the if clauses

drive north while the would clauses drive

east into the river like lemmings. there’s

a clear channel to double down on, wagers

on wagers, futures on futures, turtles on top

of turtles, holding up the world. turtles all

the way down—what do we owe these

turtles? once i wrote: in the face of a name

i must embody doubt to keep from slipping

into this corpse business. the poem was

a trolley, i took it to work, i took it to work

and left it on a chair made in a factory in

another world. my friends agree the local’s

essential. i write for them, and i write for

strangers, but when i say friends i don’t

mean turtle shells or stepping stones. i mean

anomalies. i mean a flash card my mother

held to my face over and over with the word

friend on it, which i struggled to pronounce.

i would try to sound out the ‘i’ – so it

sounded like ‘fry-end’ and she couldn’t

explain why you don’t pronounce the ‘i’

in this word while you do in other words. so

i hated this ‘i’ that refused to express itself

within this word friend. i stood, like doubt,

outside the word, and i learned it that way

as one must learn many things. how lucky

now to have friends who speak me awake

and wakefulness a useful silence within

a culture that sucks on reward. some

times i wake up to a straw or spitball and

hear my friend earl’s voice: you gotta spend

your life, he told me, so you might as well

spend it on somebody. by spend he meant

love. he bet his life—not on his wife who

had died and who he had missed terribly—

but on itself, as love, which was a kind

of motion, he explained. he liked to say

my woman or my baby. he would sing it

because he knew the woman was never

his. he meant his life, i think. his life

was his currency, he spent it because

his life wasn’t his either, he believed, so

this currency was inexhaustible. he didn’t

give a shit if you trusted him or not, but

knowing he trusted me while knowing

that knowing’s a way of going, not of

standing, a way of going, of speech we

remain inside of, this word go which spins,

made of our deaths, our skins of bark

and brick, world that knows us, remains

enough to subsist on.