For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the way people use notebooks to collect fragmentary thoughts, bits of dreams, deja vu. Several years ago, I saw an exhibit on the Spiritualist Movement, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. An entire room was devoted to photographs made by Ted Serios, an American bellhop who was alleged to have the psychokinetic ability to project his thoughts on film. (The scientists who tested this ability called it “thoughtography”; one photo was supposed to be of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.) I began to think of “notebook poetry” in these terms: as projections, experiments, postcards of places one has been and one has never been. A cross between magic and fraud.
Current dream address:
from terminal to plane—
residue of a _____,
ribbon pinned on the _____.
The unidentified baby in the family album. Somebody’s planted him on the photographed lawn. He’s alone. The photographed world made by the camera. My mother’s family is too large and an album can’t contain all of them. All of us. I’m in the tree with them too, but somehow a tree’s the wrong figure—maybe it’s always wrong. The family is the boundary, the cutting-off point. In the wrong hands we can all be identified.
Lost receipt for iceberg,
adopted a highway.
Might be taxed,
for steering committees.
In the pawnshop
I became the pawns.
The sea minded its business,
as the sea does—
should neon be black and white.
but know biohazard’s better.
Advice from Hitchcock to a fan:
If baths and showers scare your wife,
take her to the cleaners.
is no raiment.
I hope it was the trio of weavers
Mildewy tarp, who made you?
the train between France and Italy
only in the tunnel
does the face come
in the glass
gradually becoming il mare
The boy from Nepal. The nosebleed waitresses.
The view of frozen lakes glinting like tinfoil,
the Celtic coils of river. The mysterious circles—
alien visitors, farmland, meth labs.
I teach at the magnet school.
I am a magnet, the students my pins.
I am a magnet made of a body.
Pinpricked by laughter blood a cousin to metal.
The students drift and break into pieces.
The magnet lets us go.
Lady carrying balloons with pills
into the prison
Babies filling ambulances
Couples waving to solos
A smile the rose,
The eye a thorn
I live in subdivision with mother,
she paints porch pomegranate red
her age her afflictions she curses them
my Judas friend drops message
I have something important of his,
but when did I take this?
my hands open and smile against
torn catmint, shattered ficus
My phone photographs darkness in my pocket
When I run out of hands, I put the mouth where my money is
She works at the dummy corporation
At night her oiled hands
soothe the voices of hinges
Strolling like two figures
in Chekhov, or idling,
like movie characters who must
spend the whole movie
waiting for the husband to show up,
and the husband is Death
Only the wrong numbers find me—
on the payphone
Blizzard & the street openings
I can’t see, first-communion-
white, a mother attaching the baby
to the slide, the Jacob’s ladder
of first memory, everything deaf,
as if sound were power we
paid for like electric—
Green the flow
red the predators
mauled by the
Black steel flowers
pistils and stamens
on bldg tops
To inhabit a language
where I think
can mean uncertainty—as in
I think this will reach you—
The girl in the Bond movie has to die.
No beauty can be around for a second movie.
Only M survives—such an efficiently meanfaced
taskmaster: little icicles of hair,
mouth the color of scrapple.
Unwrapped the New Year.
Looked for a sex but found none.
It will have to learn to be April, be October.
Little formless one.
Even before you bleed you need bandages.