Her mouth was a universe

of polaroids, her teeth lines


I wanted to steal and there were nights

she called my mouth a boulder and said


she felt like Jesus. But first,

I’d called her legs boulders


and I have opened many things,

have struggled from toothless caves


then stepped back in

to my father’s light.


I have opened Christmas presents

and phone lines and all the letters


I’ve ever been sent. This is getting off topic

but I like to change topics, like new weather

when the old weather gets predictable and

every rose has a silver lining, every Jew

will have his day and now I describe


how her mouth became new when kissed;

less a device than an instrument,


less a story than a history – the way Rome was built

in there, the way cliché bumped into her cheeks and split


at her molars then resumed at the tongue, and I want to say

that to kiss her is to own her,


that her taste of damp lawn

is the taste of some secret I buried


in the back yard so my brothers could not

find it. And I know there are animals with wings


which are not birds. I mourn for them.

They should be called birds


though they are dinosaurs,

flies, mosquitoes, moths. Moths drawn


so strangely to any kind of light

and I want to believe


I am some kind of light

at the wing of her dress


careful as a boy not to pull

too hard. I wanted to study


this new fabric and I wonder if moths, like men, are drawn

to the light of distant and already dead stars, if any dream


of getting there just to feel that warmth

on their milk wings. Do moths have private constellations


like we had when we were bright?

I named a pattern Clara


and you named one Casio-Bill. And I used to like

to cry every morning and there was a time


I could cry every morning and it seems like many stars fell

before this ended and there were times I liked crying so much


I made a movie in my bed. A slow movie,

like those of flower buds in bloom, but

of me crying and sleeping and crying and

there was another time I was crying and looked

almost by accident into the world of vermin –


to the raccoon, the wharf-rat, the skunk

grass and grapes and there was a time


before all these things

when my bed felt like a mouth,


a young mouth, where I was the tooth and was caught

by the root and had to wiggle – learn how to pull myself free.


First published in Beat The Dust’s ‘American Indy All-Stars’ edition 2011.