To what end have I sharpened myself? I rise early in the frost and axe handles of my little upstate town. The leaves are alive with the death that’s on them, in the cores of stems, white breath that pants on the blades of the lawn, apparent stillness intended. Oil hits $60/barrel and the White House grows new fences. We crying shame are erased, cry again to be placed in a handsome frame. This is the weekend demo for mothers and old hippies, he told me, on Monday they’ll start cracking heads. Safe on the pillow, resembling the snow we’ll sink into.

You want it to mean something so you don’t look too closely. You check your velocity and let the paint take care of itself. All summer the garden with or without me while I underlined words in a lawn chair, trying to turn them into keys. Capital coruscations, careful love, care less. Marx and Spinoza hold each other by the beard and dance the beats of a double canzone on Guido Cavalcanti’s perfumed head. Jews who use tobacco are a dying breed. Our principal export is falling-down-on-the-job, our principal import is Bono. Thanks for the austerity cardigan, I don’t think I’ll put it on just yet. A black cat stalks the yard and the white dog whitens the glass.

If the future’s less real than today, what do we live toward? If a rhetorical gesture’s sufficient for us, how to expand its circle? With apostrophe I create you, the listener, and make a possessive to boot. Still walking up and down in the earth making bets I’ll lose with God. Like there’s no intelligent design: “You’re on,” says a set of letters. Correctly arranged they spell if we bring our vowels to the dancefloor. A risky enterprise claiming land, backdating a leg to stand on. We used to wander not happily but with a certain cocked-hat panache. We inserted ourselves into a narrative and made it depend on our treachery. That started belief from the rock of apostasy and cast certain words into the corrosions of content. All that is solid melts into the hair of he who has ears to hear. It cannot be doubted, Socrates. I am your servant who knows nothing, who makes nothing, who dares not leave the room not facing you. The idol bows.

To make of reading a spectacle takes sideburns and suede—a tree to sit under, an apple in freefall. On the plane read the scene, in the car “Think different,” on the subway to eat the apple giving thanks to regulations. Syntax devolves around who eats whom, right hand never left hand. “Why do they kill me?” Five hundred IOUs on five hundred squares of toilet paper. My father from a line of salesmen calls fruit roll-ups “shoe leather.” What am I trying to give you but a little better service? Constituting a constituency to make love to is a poet’s poor power—sweep of a hand to place pawn and king. As I ebb’d with the ocean of life you were a narrow fellow in the grass. Don’t please lift your hand except to turn the page I should be.

Ardency of the adrenals blazing on the copperbanged roof of a caustic supermarket. Misread determination. Clang and jangle outside the parking lot, Potemkin shopping cart tumbling downstairs. A message from the gonads: go. Track the flight of the bumblebee past the projects and the shambles, haste sweetbittering waste. Tropes for honeyed ropes strewn blinking over the trees. On the St. Charles streetcar a woman is buried deep like nothing else in New Orleans. My maw mau-maus me in the mausoleum made from the girlie magazines of my youth. That yielded to faster honeys, false horse latitudes. A woman represented by a skirt belled by a grating, great. You’re with us, my bone china, you’re one of the gang now.

Avast ye, Spongebob, but here’s a pickle in primary hues: what else might be prehensile? Lute strings snap outside the oratory in synch with the supplicant’s libido. Art of underwater. Sword snags on a rictus root and the filibusterers’ final hurrah. We’re falling backward on brittle golden hinds. Find a history for the cremaster muscle that gestures slyly at my gender: “A dandelion perfectly gone to seed, a complete globe, a system in itself.” Seaplane lands on the Mississippi by a tanker spilling essence and peas. The ferry founds a sealane between bruised nature and a Gemeinshaft. Alligator sausage at the cafe. A wilderness of me encircles my campfire nightly.

The Prelude whips to a stop, spitting gravel. My Huffy goes over a bump. This town is porous to my gesture, it seems to swim above the ground. Urgent burden of a nutsack mediated by heated mirrors. In the Navy the floor is a deck, the wall is a bulkhead, the bathroom is a head. Even the pirate navy yo-ho-hos its four to the floor. Wait till I play the race card tapdancing on cheap headstones. They say poverty isn’t marriage, at least not in this old grandstand. My dog is balding gracefully. My father hands out horny thumbs. If my features lack definition it’s easier to bear your face. Carry me under your tongue and gargle your go-cup’s light.

My first and only redhead, a crown on island experience. Nimbus of the beachballed moon. If you can feel green fire you can feel yourself pitching across the lawn into your clean home plate. The inaudible body’s clock puts out matches one by one, not minding that it hurts. A dunce cap, felicity, a snifter in absentia. Rubbing alcohol, cool, it’s a cruel summer. Your silence before a beatdown makes us call out your dead name. And if tricky diction hears? My body’s an admirable is. Clothes simulate an opening and an envelope’s meant to be pushed. Sweat the imitation, Sally, plumb the simile’s plum. Purple life before the decayed map of a simmering flooded plain. “How long, Lord, how long?” Since The City of New Orleans was a train.