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All Night Empires Posts

Planted hand


Tonight my wife sits in the apple tree because this is the way things progress. The wind moves her slightly, and of course the blossoms depart in a winsome lilt.
I soak my hands in salt water. My hands ache from work, or from the ache that work brings. I go straight to the ache from several scant weeks of work as if this toil has always been available in the periphery. It’s an ache of brassed denim and knuckles the size of rockcandy and of a heartfat that reaches back generations and that toil can never touch. This aches does not detract from a beer and a cigarette, the smell of gardenia though a north window, and a Hungarian woman in a tree.

But work is good. The unskilledness of it is cleansing. Debris is removed at the rate of creation. Time, it would seem, can only approve. What else?

June still sings to me occasionally. Her voice is muffled by her tongue running over her aching teeth the very ruin of song and decayed ballads and sweet admonition over the phone lines. I can sense the humming overhead and the crows leap off the wires and tumble in the air and the phone rings. What is stuntingly lovely is mitigated by its own violence, its own rooting through the trash, its own waking the dead. But where is she now?

Final instructions



He spent his days now moving upward in the house of his childhood,
Each night in a different room
A kitbag packed with minor accessories:
Teas of the Fareast, a campstove, a tiny radio and an old

Where he camped he barricaded the door against no one and painted and moved furniture
He would stare at the typewriter until late
Walls of crudely tinted stains and pigmented oils
Applied with sponges and papertowels like inmate abstracts
The furniture clustered in the center of the room and left

He wrote little, often nothing, formal notes to a past ambition
Each room an absolute
A pitch of abandoned reverie
Random dialogues where no biles had yet festered,
no lunatic babbled, yet

He thought that something was finished forever but he had no interest in pursuing
What that could be or if it really mattered
He saw in dislocated memory a woman’s footprint in the dust of
Her own dead skin and he saw in his life a path
Of little more resistance.

Teatime triptych



She was naked from the knees up, the skin these days ballooning over the socks like a wound wrapped too tight, her feet cold, the razor stubble sore. She displayed her aging with full commentary, walking him through the tired breasts, the burgeoning jowls, the genital odor lilting harshly from earthiness to a musty rancor, tongue spreading in her spreading mouth. Her once tidy ass now lost in a buffering zone of comfort foods, and all this bound up in a skimmilk-blue pallor. There was a coolness unaccountable for by ambient temperature alone, impervious to the frantic hastes of aerobics, woolsocks, carpetburns. Look at me, she warned.

Later over tea and pancakes lumped with fresh apples and fresh cream and freshly grated cinammon they sat with the french doors open and watched the wind pick up as the morning sky darkened. She a killer of men and a swindler of life savings swirled seven tiny, tiny spoonfuls of sugar into the teacup and said That wind might just ruin my orchids.

He sipped his tea and nodded.

Moonrise, Aveiro


Math and Music fight for sole custody of the moon

Math tells Music

‘The stars are mine.’

Music considers this and at our silence we say

‘The rocks are mine, the river, the face of god,’

We wait but our ball is rolling

‘Mine are the last two sips in that bottle, mine is the hoolahoop nobody uses anymore.’

Giddily ‘and the conversation on the subway last Sunday at three am with Ferdinand about the scars from slicing open that bagle, hungover, that hot August afternoon so long ago, mine also the silent mention of that Jesus fellow because it’s likely- if you live long enough- you will mention him.

Math continues, ‘But this is not to say that I do not like you and that you are not entitled to anything. You are not like the young wife to my Solomon, or even the Tonto to my Lone Ranger but rather….

The penis to my brain! Indeed!

Not always quite in possesion of your reason but, I suppose, passionate enough.’

Solitaire w/ Horsehoof



She begins to smell but she still smiles. She withers and smells and her eyes cloud and her clothes fit no more but her scars heal and her hair still grows. She smiles and collapses minutely with clock sounds. The green of her eyes fades and her stature reduces into attitudes of roosting and a blueness takes hold of her lips and spreads over her cheek and all of these things she can still do.

I laugh because I am overcome. I stand on the street laughing until a woman knocks me to the ground with a shopping cart and sits on me and says Rub my belly for a quarter. I explain my situation and she says All will be revealed if you read the blue veins of my thighs. I explain with heartfelt rue that I have never been able to read thighs and she nods and squints and interprets for me:

Number 5 Pogue Street, a flagship mansion, fallen into shambles now. A madhouse reek in August. Empty now but for an old woman, resolved out of dawn light and her turning flesh and even cheap steelframe glasses and solder fillings seem precious in her pinchblue face, concentrating, shredding fennelbulb into cooling licorice tea. She is dressed in dark colors of severe weave and her feet are bare and when she sits and crosses her legs the bonestructure of her foot is perfect and lovely and then so collarbone and high cheekbones come through like something wrapped in sodden butcherpaper and can none that see her take back one agony or misfortune of her life and still fathom a present grace. She rolls tobacco from a can into ricepaper and her mouth is so dry she dips her tongue into the tea and runs it across the gummed leaf.

In her life she was shot at twice and stabbed in the thigh and on a separate occasion stabbed in the thigh with a cedar vinestake, she had straight wormwood liquor forced down her throat and what would not go down was poured over her dress and set alight, she was pitched into the Mississippi from the paddledeck of a riverqueen and into the Tennessee from the pilothouse of a riverqueen, was thrown from a veranda in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and this not including incidents with animals or blood kin. She was married by paper three times but involved in a plague of lesser passions that seemed terminable only by death or jail sentence. Lying down she measures two inches taller than when standing. She broke her left hand and wrist on brothers growing up and on lovers later and as a result the hand is smaller, curls up like a dead insect over her breast when she sleeps or laughs. These things she can still do.


Skull & Vines


When he was difficult she would take the long needle
And work into his back between the shoulder blades
And hang signs from it like
‘Challenged’ or ‘Bitchy’ or

‘Sleepy just now’

Sometimes she would pluck the needle and it would
Resonate in his heart and he would smile
Before he passed out

And hit his head on the coffee table

When he woke she would be knitting booties or
A long long scarf because winter was always near by
And she did her best to be good to him though

It wasn’t always easy to see this

But for her the choices were clear, like
Eat the old eggs first or
You aren’t entitled to good beer today or (better still)

Toast makes a perfectly good birthday present

This goes on for many many years and

The paint dulls in the bathroom and the

Coffee table goes out of round yet at least

She still lets one scar heal before moving on