Friday, December 5, 2008



The enormous significance of a little moment

recollected years later more vividly

than the details of the original event

and yet I still don’t know what it means

to remember you sitting stoned in the windowframe

of that old Victorian head-house high on the hill,

in a slip you wore like moonlight,

strapped with a thirty-eight under your armpit

complaining at my approach you didn’t know anyone

who was worth shooting

as you smiled at me like a dangerous idea

whose time had not yet come.

I still don’t know whose avatar you were,

though, for awhile, you were the muse of my revolution

as we wore lust out like a parachute

plunging into each other

as if all we were

were endless space and atmosphere and falling

in that A-framed attic where the candles pooled

like the paint on your easel

and I’d fall asleep wholly gratified

with your breath like the sea in my ear.

I wrote four hundred poems for you

and gave you the only copies

as if they were the shedding blossoms

of your own private orchard on the moon

just to prove that my love had no signature.

You were always certain of things in a way

I could never be,

and if I was a lost well in a desert

puzzled by the strange stars that were reflected in me,

you were the dark watershed

that fired up the radiant themes of the night

like a furnace that burned like a prophet

to clarify the dead

like the fine print of a fateful conversation

you hung over my head like a new constellation.

You wanted to feed and teach

the children of Africa

but you wound up

working on a kibbutz

and to this day I still wonder

when the seeds you carried with you

like pilgrims into the promised land

turned into bullets?

When did the ploughshares

turn into swords

that would spill blood

for a few, stupid, ghostly words

that were vampiric abstractions

devoid of flesh?

When did you embed yourself

like a mine in the starmud

and wait like a toad for rain

to wash you out of your creekbed

into a flash flood;

when did the amaranthus who bled for love

throw all that imperial passion off like a robe

and let it fall to the floor

in gouts of blood?

Did you think you could fill the table

for the hungry and unable

by killing the people

who ate Africa down to its diamonds?

And did you expect me

to receive you like a hero

when you got back from making a difference?

You talked a lot about manifestations

of economic autonomy

in underdeveloped nations

that had more reasons than rations

to drink blood like wine,

but you never mentioned the harvest,

you never mentioned the burnt vine

or the scorched earth of the child

that was anointed with gasoline

and cremated with her straw dolls in bed

until all that was left of her flesh

broke like black, bitter bread

in the mouth of the militant multitudes

who had come, like you,

to liberate the starving with food,

but the only thing she received

in the way of loaves and fishes from your hand

that freed and filled her was death.

And then you went on to better things

like a guest lecturer

with a new book and a slideshow

on the academic, cocktail circuit

revelling in the unambiguous celebrity

of someone who had been there and done that

like fat in the fire.

Been a long time since I last thought of you

like a scar I had almost forgotten,

but never, since that day I left,

with compassion or desire.

And even now when I recall

how we never hurt anyone

making love all night long

in that tiny apartment above the sea

where the sun would lay its sword down on the waves,

and I stand in your doorway again

and think about knocking

I remember the thief

who wanted to give something back

and made a fact of her belief

by stuffing North America into her knapsack

and thumbing all the way across Europe to Tel Aviv

blooded her abstractions by killing a child

to prove what she didn’t believe.