joke told to a light-skinned man of indeterminate race
god all of a sudden you’re a stand-up
kind of man you called me
a snigger is a snigger
what you wanted
in the beginning was the word
what made it funny
was my absolute silence a holy ghost
stretched across a crowd like an old cotton
gin just deal
you said folding your tongue
like a wine-soaked cracker you said without irony
can nothing be taken lightly in this country anymore
as if i’d never in my life laughed
in the face of my father
i am lighter than a paper bag i tell myself
i don’t have to speak up i hold myself
up to the standard of the sun
and if the light falls through i’ve failed
to be wholly anything is impossible to be safe or to be good
if only for a moment i swallow black humor the white let loose
let us draw a map of valleys
all roads lead us to finish, to swallow
fences, but our eyes are the color of dusk
and willows grow. they would build a series of governments
against us. (this is really the plan,
as if we’d never met. as if the earth wasn’t paperwork
before us. we shine and even the proud why
of a dragonfly is not especially aquamarine.)
our bodies touch, golden, and your name
is a body too, a first word, a request, semicolon;
i am taxing you with a labor beyond the regularities
of love—we are summer throwing autumn off, the sheets,
late into the night, talking, two creeper vines, a sweet
that meets the want of sweat,
a series of directions
we cannot have without pretending. (laelaps,
the mythic dog who could not fail
to capture her quarry was never here with you,
never tasked with catching her own
uncatchable breath) this revolution
is just love (there should be more than one name
for it). we’re horizonless (look how it becomes invisible by its sameness
with the sky and sea!). passion goes, i know, but we’re taking
it besides, in the hang between laughs (the time
caught in a traffic jam), or a radical awareness
of our colors, this extraordinary weather
the chocolate’s silver wrapper says get messy. alright.
so you augury. you wellbutrin
or two of cups or year of the rat.
between tragedy and alchemical balance.
you run the calculus from the pillow where you cry at night
to sleep. angels and hex from the leftovers.
ramble with love and religion
and the upside-down. you fancy glyphs
imprinted on an oreo (next time look, you’ll see),
for family. for god
and taxes but whatever the case
you gather water
like a depression. you get older somehow, you trust
to be a we—we chart by break-a-leg
and tea leaves. catastrophe and capricorn.
wishbones that race to meet opposite
horizons. a window lifted. you said alright. said what does it say?
fish see the face of god and speak their names.
you eavesdrop. live a little. and we call this superstition.