On Restlessness

I've been asking myself the same question.
I know you think you want to know everything;
I would like to understand how we operate.
But I'm afraid we've both been losing sleep.
Come morning, we'll step onto the floor
with no more than a yawn, stretch, or a blink.

I won't have the time it takes to blink
before today has again stifled any question
that might hinder my progress across the floor.
And now you think that I know everything,
for the nights I spent your waking hours asleep.
This is simply the only way I can operate.

Suppose revolutions weren't how days operate.
Suppose we relied on how often we blink
to decide the time between waking and sleep.
I don't think we would have any question
about the sun, zoology, God, and everything.
We'll spend hours charting stars, backs to the floor.

When you can make angels touch the floor,
there will be nothing left to manually operate.
The universe will be in control of everything,
assuring us of this when we watch the stars blink.
What makes us anxious will be out of the question;
what has kept us up will sing us back to sleep.

Until we find answers, let's at least try to sleep.
Pull your blankets back to your bed from the floor.
If it helps, find some paper: write your question.
Mine merely asks How do you and I operate?
I wrote it when my hands were numb, I couldn't blink,
and I was nervous for the state of everything.

There was never a time that I knew everything.
There wasn't a night I wanted you to lose sleep.
There are some words you can say with a blink.
There are nights I wake up curled on the floor.
There are appliances that refuse to operate.
There are solutions that don't have a question.

Today you woke with everything tossed across the floor,
from elbows thrown in your sleep—the ways you operate
that make you blink, like you answered your own question.


Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and
I am already empty.
Soot shrouds my brow, evenly,
a note left by a soul lent
to a warden who didn't want it.

Call me brother. Console me
with a gentle grip on my shoulder,
or slap me on my back and knock
a small, fragile fragment
of faith or hope or love loose.

I've given up so many things.

Contingency Plans

If we might figure out why the water waits
If we could reason our way out of this mess,
Then we might never have reason to fear hurricanes.
Then we could clean the cellar, closets, and the garage.
When we manage to stitch the night by all its stars,
When we finally think of names for everyone,
Make sure to keep the knot from slipping out of sight.
Make sure to tell each, I love you, I love you, I love you
Suppose we try returning to times when God was God,
Suppose we decide our recycling ranks next to holiness,
And I will never yield the floor for pleas for mercy.
And I will try to keep the bins kempt and orderly.

On Anatomy & Physiology

I still remember just how you look
naked, the pale curve of your back,
the quiet inlet where it bends
to meet the taper of your waist,
shower water wending where it will
along the architecture of your form.

There may have been studies of a form
such as yours, that begged charges look
and chart the firm geography they will
find around each smooth surface and back—
from the ankle to knee and knee to waist—
while changing, adapting as the figure bends,

saying, Note where the wrist starts, thumb ends,
and how the hip tendons each transform
And every student might attend to your waist
but neglect the collective, assembled look
produced by the bones in your neck and back
how they form a straight line of poise and will.

Maybe what I saw when I saw you naked will
amount to what makes or breaks or bends
me. I caught your eye, and you glanced back.
You didn't flinch or show the slightest form
of embarrassment. I remember the look—
a subtle nod and smile—you might waste

as if it were a familiar gaze, might waste
in calm, in nonchalance, in pure goodwill.
Or maybe this gaze is the way you look
into me, past the way my own body bends
to cover my soul, to hide and conform,
to be sure and have my own back—

to hold close and hold tight and hold back
like anxiety for being seen from the waist
down, naked, vulnerable, without form.
Maybe it won't matter, and maybe it will;
but, having caught you so bared unbends
me, makes me measure, take another look

at my maudlin self—a cruel look to see my back
still bends wrong, my legs, trunk, hands—a waste
of time to contest if ever I will match your form.