The Universe is a jell-o mold-
set, yet possible to pierce through
in novel ways, once you understand
the script- once every possible
change in every possible atomized
bit of matter has set in with the peach,
apple, pear pieces, improvise a symphony
against the surface, just firm enough
to liberate sense- rivers, trees, sky,
grass, all have a way of getting there
you will never know- the brain casts
itself into space, as, somewhere
beyond the Universe, something
eats us for dessert- tasty?
If you'd seen her as I'd seen her, topless
under loft ceilings, caught on pegs in her
brain, frenzied to find an excuse to use words
artfully, wine in place, bed-sheets not thoughtless,
me moving in, under the merciless gaze of
the center of the city's center, where surveillance
is the game's name, & where her, as was salient,
only chance was to win a word-man's love,
you could only have loved her, as I loved her then,
with more vigor, rigorous force than a father or friend.
Ceilings, also, of university classrooms, earth-toned,
dingy, aura of things tepid, daily, I opened the book
to the correct passage, asked the class to follow, she took
advantage of the brief silence to rattle my bones
with brown eyes like saucers, so that I cleared my
throat in response, and we were off into Chaucer,
or Donne, the anyone it could have been, for
she'd taken wing under my skin. For her to fly
where she wanted to meant transgression, yet
books were written in my one little room, & bed-
Why it seemed unreal, sleeping in the loft once
the semester ended in May- I could never take her
to the place she needed to be. To clear space for her
to do what I'd done, to take the cap saying "dunce"
off her head, which was placed there in Cheltenham,
where they broke her in harshly, as they'd tried with
me (and if they failed, it's only because I had the gift
of liking battle-heat), and as years passing skipped the scam.
Her body tense, jerky, surprised at its own courage,
mine half-scandalized, also tense- leaps unearthly.
I don't know where or who she is anymore. What's
left behind: what they've left to me, twenty pages of
criticism, lucid, compulsively disciplined, an act of love
greater than what I performed with her. She cuts
into a line that forms whenever anyone means what they
say in this business (and God knows almost no one does),
God also knows that whatever we produced, our love
took over part of Pine Street from the dykes & gays.
Her skin had a kind of waxen sheen to it, transparency,
eyelashes pronounced. Her words are parented.
What the world is that's worth something
to win or lose- it's not the place to play
archer in, darling, where how you may stay
where you are is to shoot, maim, disable, sting-
like so many tow-heads, you haven't learned
this. Where you set the easel up in your
mansion, lead dog-brains on guided tours,
adorn yourself in moon-silver: you're burned.
The road leads three hours to get ten minutes.
Loops grapple with loops, perfume, pills, all
accoutrement items only worth words spilled
glibly, to take stooges, parasites, by the balls,
keep your own parts arrowed, arrayed, chilled.
But I've got you now by something else, finished-
Five floors up on the elevator: I was too
thin, almost collapsed from humidity outside,
but Jennifer, the knowledge of her insides,
held me up, with luggage we carried through.
Why the compulsion was there, prodded us
into instant betrayal, I cannot say or know now-
clothes got piled sloppily, hotly, on a rug, brown
as always at the Atherton Hilton, clean, fussed
for breaking, entering, conventioneers, academics,
now two incredibly horny, moody adolescents.
Soon, the room was a desert island, the bed a sand-dune.
We were washed ashore after fucking, over & over.
No one in history had been so marooned with a lover.
Every time I touched her, I risked rousing a monsoon.
Wave after wave broke, entered. We didn't exist
except as pistons in a tropical engine. Glasses of water,
occasional baths, a little TV, body-boundaries slaughtered,
so that when we hit the Arts Fest, it didn't resist.
My brain had spokes spinning the wrong way, but
she took the Pandora's Box & nailed it shut.
What was backed up for her: everything, nothing.
I had no yen for anything but to survive. Nights there
were like days. We never had leave to figure out where
we were. Tunnels spiraled down & up: something
heaved, out in the world. Someone under the bed
seemed to be nudging us; maybe how we'd been
reduced to carnage. Being in her: what I was in
was sheets rumpled, no maid, dementia in the head.
We ate nothing: crackers, occasional food on College Ave.
Once I spun to McLanahan's: lines crazy, bodies mad.
An eternity later, I strode down Pine Street in Philly,
saw a blonde boy, a teenager, in a group of kids, thought
of Jen, craziness, madness, order emerging from naught.
I knew, from reading bird-signs, shadows, nothing silly.
Eternity, agony & ecstasy melded into it, life piercing
into more life, primordial ooze given sharp, tight direction,
emergence of existence, matter, leveled energy, infection
of messy something into hollow nothing- Jen's tearing
as we held each other through class-collisions, convulsions-
buses I board to move forward. All school, no expulsion.
Fish, fish-tank ricocheted through my skull
as I lay on the thin, tough-skinned, scrappy
grey couch. What was in the next room stank, unhappy
yokels knowing I'd trespassed past the full
load I'd dumped on them. They wouldn't let us
sleep together; Jen slept in a room with her sister,
as I tossed, poison-brained, through several blistering
nights in the Harrisburg 'burbs- cornfields, husks
staring fish-eyed at the bizarre married couple.
She was hollowed out around corn, body doubled.
About the doubling of Jen's body, I knew nothing.
About the way she'd trotted out before me, emerging
from a kind of mist, lean, tow-headed, urgent
about preserving roots I hadn't seen, something
lascivious branded us blackly, gradually, as though
I should know all there was to know, like this
tensed trailer- scarecrow-fronted, ragged, just drips
from the shower spout, Jen a trailer princess, no
way to see beneath arable land's surface,
no scheme to pull back a secret temple's curtains.
If only I knew what to ask her then: "Jen,
I need to know if this is real. I need to know, also,
if there's something in you I do not or cannot know,
if you're really my wife (whom I love), trusted friend?"
But I flailed away in Liverpool's darkness, silence-tied,
& I hadn't seen or known the inside of a trailer before,
Jennifer had known little else, & I hadn't known this war,
but force in our bodies engendered a tornado'd sky,
force in our souls lay dormant. Grandfather clock shone five.
Window showed black husks thrust upwards, moon alive...