Stride Magazine -


Philosophers, how many teeth have you bent
on the needles that are subways
splaying voices the way coral sounds

to the fish swimming there? Inclusion of the arm
in the image invites associations with saliva
collecting at the corners of mouths. See,

sea foam, no, I have brought mine
from home displeased with the concentration
of clay in the soil, how little I can make
with my hands.

                                Don't ever begin
it by asking. There are too many singings
of silence, and I won't admit I am standing
inside a puddle of dust. Unsafe feet,

red pencils and candlesticks, all that I wanted
was to create a room in which to be loved -
the time I had with a cello, the time a rose
I touched became a puddle of red moths.


Excepting that we are not dead,
I'd trade you graves, drowned girl
these four candles are for you

with the trees about to arrive
I'm not expecting any comets
to leave a trail across the yard.

Though once an iguana appeared
in the hallway with a tail
curled behind him like your spine

must have curled in the moments
before the trees. And how far
from your mother you cried

whatever it is of the body
that can be abandoned, or must be.

And there is nowhere else for me
to be placed but in the humidity

of backyards or of trees,
impossible sunlight, that we drink
when we whisper the way wood whispers

when the house is moving.
To put bones here would be an admission
of ending, to wade into the stream,

its glass flow of ice-socks,
and it is you, pressing color to my lips,
to my cheeks, hurtled forward

as they are with trees approaching
far too rapidly and insects
in the air all still like breathing.


Tired of using a tongue as a plectrum,
her tongue and the mashed potatoes
that he's commented on as exquisite
examples of lunar texture. Was he set up

is what all of us were asking, his stress
at the eggs that fell, shattering smatters

onto his slippers, the sticky coagulation
around his bedstand. And his insomnia

the reverberations of recording sessions
jazzy interpretations of "Camptown Races"
implanted surgically with the marimbas
he's pierced his nose in the restroom.

What to make of the disembodied eggs,
the songs that children run out screaming

about popcorn and he's into snorkeling gear
in public again. It isn't his fault, red mustache

quivering, that Tarzan doesn't live underwater.


Laughing, the sudden taxidermies
leaving the field a mixture
of recent animals, inanimates,
and I'd raise laughers there,
if I could locate them, each in a cherry
picker, and the children would walk
through with marbles like eyeballs
in their pockets and ask someone
to hold their hands for small fears
of the animals left there so lifelike
and still, and I only hear laughter
coming from no identifiable source,
possibly off camera, and I'm not being clear
about the sky which is still shaped
like your face, no, the sky is still.


The bus with its interior cut from scraps
of sweaters a team of grandmothers
has been knittingt - he grandmothers
of former lovers.

Trying to convince these children
that the chickens are moving
according to wireless remote controls
held by men more handsome

than imagined jaguars, the bloated ones
that are chewing my torso. Always
the men hanging at the corners
comfortably in the blue nooses they wear.

But who is the one pushing that cart
containing all of the fingers
that have touched me intimately?
The matches I swallowed, striking now
off my ribs, tiny warmths like caterpillars.

            Daniel Coudriet 2003