Frame Dragging

November 14, 2016

You never expected the world spin to falter, could never
have predicted the orbit’s reversal, its flattening, a rich orb of clay

easily crushed between the knuckles of some bored and
petulant child. It is an unprecedented cosmic event, months,

maybe years, in the making, the leveled Earth wobbling,
sinking into a velveteen tsunami of constellations and darkest

oblivion. We spin faster, reckless abandon, a whirling
dervish pirouetting on a single point, arms open, then closed

to manipulate drag, gaining mass through acceleration,
the gravity of the galaxy rippling uneasily in the wake of

our world’s unraveling. And all the while, the swelling
moon, ripening, opalescent, pock-marked and perfect, the

closest it’s been in sixty-eight years, last seen when
American troops desegregated, when we were united, at least,

in name, in death. An entire lifetime ago. With your
entire universe precessing, you look to the advancing stars

for answers, you can only trace elliptical patterns with
squinted eye and the tip of your crooked pinky. It’s been

less than a week since the collision course was set
and we’re torn apart once again, half of us relishing the

Earth-centric shift of thinking, the other terrified
by history, parroting itself yet again. What can we do?

Talking about our doom does nothing but fill the air
with a buzzing despair. Instead, we must turn to the

burgeoning moon, study its imperfect, ochre visage
together, a shared resource for humanity, scanning

the deepest recesses of craters for the footprints of
Armstrong & Aldrin, relics from a time lost, foreign, yet

familiar as the buzzing air we breathe, our vantage
granting front row tickets to the beauty of our own destruction.



“Longing on a large scale is what makes history.”
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“Most of our longings go unfulfilled. This is the world’s wistful implication–a desire for something lost or fled or otherwise out of reach.”
~Don DeLilo, Underworld

In the year I discovered
I was a lover I was a

glass-eyed and hungry
beast locked behind the
cold steel of my indecision,

unsure of what it was
that would make me whole

but wanting it all, all, all
to myself. How strange it is
to place a stranger, a body

cutting the blustery chill of
the street, into my mind,

by my side in endless permutations
of things I tell myself will make
me happy, a kiss or a fuck or a

conversation that only happens
in the scratchy highlight reel

of my fantasies. And stranger still
this attraction to people who will never
pluck me from the identity parade

of skimmed-over silhouettes; mine,
a wish made yet unfulfilled. I exist

within the shadowy halls of the
House of Black and White, a quilted
wall of faces I’ve never forgotten,

my loneliness uncovered and laid bare
before their eyes. I feel I must give account

for this shortcoming, must provide an entire
history of longing, an autobiography of
warmth lingering beneath the numb rind

of my fingers, my loins, my lips. But how
can you account for the world moving beneath

your very feet, how do you explain its wistful
implications, all rising tides and shifting plates
and stench of peat? And why do I feel I should

be ashamed of being ushered to sleep on the
rippling echoes of the confessions I whisper

to the moon, for hoping that someone else speaks
sweetly to its cratered face, for knowing in my bones
that these lunar orisons float through the cold

glimmer of aether between us, cruising along an orbit
of desperate optimism, but always just out of reach?


It’s 1:30 on an April afternoon and I
am as high as the sky blue sky
driving down main in search of food,
ever the model of modern

Through the lens of my sunglasses
the world slumps, spreads itself
out under the weight of its own
an ice cream cake left on a kitchen
counter, collapsing

I am entirely comfortable,
which is to say numb to
the knowledge of my own
–the weather
is perfectly submergible,
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a bath I’m dissolving into,
losing track of where my boundaries
lie when I shut my eyes, the wind
a ghostly lover’s fingers slinking
through the thin brambles of my hair

Days like this are best spent
in reflection–
I am alive, free, healthy,
and I have nothing
but giddy thanks to give
and the open road to take


How lucky to be alive and healthy
and 24 in this golem of a city, my
desire to prove each freedom like
a hungry rat padding through a maze.
How lucky to have found a tribe, each
of us taking a thousand heavy steps
to find each other. With so much
wrong in the world, with our eyes
perpetually stapled to the back of
our bladed shoulders, I hardly stop
to reflect on that initial spark, the
cold tingling behind my forehead
and sternum, the palpable energy
of curious souls thrumming in the
warm sockets of our eyes. Those
moments drift like wind borne from
the lazy flap of butterfly wings, the
tapestry of us rippling in the breezy
caverns of our future. It’s the purest
form of magic, electric and fleeting.
So for these moments, for every
beautiful one: namaskar, the elusive
divinity of my soul bows and kisses
the pale fish of your restless feet.

Maw watches Cujo

Christmas 2007

Cold, a little cramped, content:
how I remember christmases spent
in dad’s mobile home during those
pre-liberation       /      post-divorce
years. The trailer, an aluminum box

dolled-up to pose as home, packed
to the brim with threadbare ephemera
handed down or scooped from the graveled
lips of 68/80, cabinets and shelves lined
with liquor and time-polished wooden

tools from the grandfather I never knew.
Packed among the ephemera, we stooped
into crushed velvet cushions and lined the
frayed relics of Maw’s labor-love, rugs exploding
with strips of old t-shirts and bedsheets

woven into beautiful concentric arcs. Per
tradition, we watch a movie marathon,
explosions and death gurgles so easily
scoring the opening of presents you’d
think we lived in a Tarantino film. Behind

the noisy tube, the adults weigh in on the
big issues: domestic beer preferences, our
cousin’s sex life, the gorgeously simple past—
so my ears prick when Maw’s voice, sweet
as the Mary Jane candies she kept, cleaves

the drivel like a thorn grazing a lazy thumb:
     that damn dog is the devil!      her eyes,
huge and wild through her funhouse frames,
gobbling the grainy image of a st. bernard
with a million bloody teeth. It takes a moment

to digest, our collective breath held hostage
by her—she is frozen in the act of forking
sweet country ham, her still-crisp Newport
cradled in an ancient victory-V. The moment
stretches and bursts, a balloon filled with

too much water, the air rushing back into
the room on the backs of my family’s
raucous laughter. We snap back, giggling
at the depression-era woman, finding it
funny that she actually believed the bernard

lived in some abandoned americana yard,
slowly terrorizing single-mother families
before swallowing them bones, bangs and
all. How clever we felt! How full of ignorant
joy at her expense. And how strange still

that years later, rimming the ruffled skirt
of her coffin, we all wiped our eyes and
recalled those funhouse frames of hers,
stretched wide and filled with the bright
glare of Cujo’s bloody maw, snapping shut.


If I could roll the tape back, the compressed celluloid
of memory blurring as it is shuttled through
the intricate guts of hippocampal projectors,
I think I’d sit another spell in the old wooden
swing of your grandmother’s garage and smoke
a few menthols with you. I’d choose one of those
winter nights we were both home from college,
the carousel of seasons marked by our pilgrimage
to the lovely simplicity of our motherland,
the passage of time discernable by the silent
multiplication of empty bottles you bought from
Mutt’s down the road. Every conversation,
boiled down to its bones, about proving who
was more alive, measuring our vitality in rehearsed
stories about the sex and booze we had while away,
the lies slipping like smoke from our mouths as if
we were two dragons comparing their wealth from
atop massive heaps of fools gold. In the soft miasma
of those prolonged December nights, the world
outside the cramped garage was strange and
fantastic as the Twilight Zone, drenched
with the electric purples and blues of an 80s flick,
the snow drifting lazy as fallout to meet the Earth,
gripped with rigor mortis. Your family, a rippling
silhouette in the titian light seeping through the living
room curtains while you steeped in the cold shadows,
all half-lidded eyes and teeth slick with the cartoonish
gleam of Clorox commercials, a dopey little Cheshire
reduction, a simpler version of yourself. Countless
moments to choose from, both of us jabbering as
the cold encroached, the thin atmosphere of aluminum
garage thawed, briefly, by the heat of our turgid exhalations,
by the smoldering snubs of cigarettes in our palms, but
I remember our silences best, those moments when we stared
out to the slushy streets listening to the sleeping giant of the city,
our friendship unknowingly reveling in the beautiful winter of its life.

A Colony of Me

Another night locked in the bathroom, 
another lonely, bathtub dinner, another

napkin rubbed translucent with grease
tossed to the flooding stone bin–

it’s all led to this. Ants in my sink,
in my trash, mistaking my waste

as a peace offering, an invitation
to come in from the cold. I find them

under the slick pearl of soap in dish,
running greedy jaws over the bristles

of my toothbrush, my floors outlined
by a swarming pointillism, a hundred grains

of obsidian roiling beneath my feet. 
Always looting waxen q-tips, nail clippings,

mucus-hardened tissues, all those pieces
of myself I try to get rid of. I set out poison,

drown them in toilet bowl and basin,
devote whole hours to crushing them 

between my thumb and index until
they’re but stains on my fingertips, smudges 

on the toothpaste-speckled countertop.
I’m so stuck in this impulse to murder 

that I forget my reasons for wanting them
all dead. How can it be so easy?

Stamping out those small lives for nothing
more than hauling off all those fragments

of myself that I’ve thrown away and crawling
to the Earth to build a colony from them?