IN THE SHAVING MIRROR

waterstained topography
rocking with key presses
dusty drops of distant isles

rays trace the speckled
ceiling. some blood vessel
burst in the peninsula

between brows—
discovered previously
on another excursion

roving spotlight:
screw needs tightening
haloing metal hallooing

don’t always want 
to look on eyes fixed
despite shifts, bumps,

to be stuck there
past its surface, shrunk
within its silver frame

dream of rain, dream of 
violence, dream of couches
burnt, and disappointment

turning its face down 
but hanging still within

Anger a way of holding on. Anger the substitute. The person that we are angry with is alive to us still, even if they are no longer living. In this way letting go of the anger does not mean giving up on an injustice. It means accepting the way things are. There is so much I don’t want to be. So much that I resist. Turning from anger—I don’t want to perform this here. 

Okay being broken. I wait until the day is almost done to write that. The child, the parent, and the adult: the child demands, the parent forbids, and the adult decides. Unless I am remembering that incorrectly. 

To judge and to blame is neither the province of the student or the master. When anger blossoms it is a return in its own way. 

Close in anger. When he speaks I often become angry. And it is not because of anything he has done or said to me. It is because he reminds me of someone I was once close to—and via his speech I am returned to them.

HAVING IT REALLY GOOD

I want to write a poem called “Having It Really Good” about having it really good
and getting caught in it like webbing—how I deflected whatever you said—
at the end that’s how we talked, as if playing a game of tennis 
a careful game between two people who couldn’t figure out a way to get off the court
now I want to recognize what belongs to me and what does not, want not to move forward
slashing defensively at every advance before I even know where it is going
only after it ended could I ever imagine it
during I was too afraid to know that I was, now I am stubborn—
the game was never that careful—in fact I think we hurt each other 
more than is usual—we were so frustrated, knowing our ideal
angry that the other took it from us—having it really
full stop, holding onto it—believing in what it was 
not what it could be
or was not

LYING LOW

after it happened I stayed up north
did not tell the group chat

read the sage’s advice—lying low
brings surprising fortune

fried discard in skillet
sourdough killed in the freezer

at Christmas tried to revive it
fed it flour at regular intervals

if you consult the I Ching often
eventually you get your answer

following for dishonourable reasons
becomes the path is strewn with blessings

it rose, at most, a centimetre
by then I had given up

dishes multiply with surprising haste
I am only flipping coins

I MISS EVENTS

after you left the reading a woman 
turned back to us
(by chance I was standing closest) 
& accused you of stealing
the coat—she’d had the same, disappeared once

it came from a boutique in Roncesvalles
little known
(few could afford to)
her favourite,
beloved statement she’d thrown once
on a bed and forgotten about 
& that night in Kensington
it had returned on the wing of the thief

your innocence could not enter her
convinced no poet (or friend of one)
could afford it—now it walked out again
& I was stuck explaining
that it had never come

AFTER LEVINE

What does it mean to write
a poem that is angry? Little fox
raising a stone to his head-height
threatening lords and ladies 
on the path. This morning I rose 
into a feeling, a kind of dampness
despite the nice weather, a cold 
dark cloth draped over my head,
stuffed in my guts. Last night, 
in haste, I pulled open a bag 
of chamomile, spilled its seeds 
over my cup, drank it anyway, 
without filter. Nothing angry there.
Except my haste was to avoid
another feeling. I knew what
I was brewing up. Knew what
was coming, or wasn’t. What 
would not. Oh to feel as clear
and sharp and sure as I felt
overlooking the old streetcars,
certain it was a crime to be made
to clean up a mess that wasn’t 
mine—my earliest memory
a toddler’s anger, mildly Byronic
I sometimes think—the self-
importance, someone who doesn’t
know the world is any bigger
than what he is able to see. Doesn’t
understand that the injustice
doesn’t extend beyond his self

DOMOVOI

Helpless I watch the sun trace
across the asphalt—my voice speaks
when they are sleeping—
they do not know why I beg for bread
and salt—what feelings 
are mine and what belongs to them—
when I arrived it was without 
blood of chicken or goat—they did not sprinkle 
the four corners of this one bedroom—
didn’t speak my name or say their prayers—
let the dog disturb me in his haste
to shout at the glass—he is
the only one who knows—snarling, 
suspicious—the fur raised 
around his slim neck—should feel 
instead weight beyond cunning—terror—
what he cannot know—what, 
if abused,
could destroy him. Sometimes pain is felt
in one place but found elsewhere—
sometimes the sun when it moves
becomes something living

I WILL GO WITH YOU AND I WILL HOLD YOUR HAND

to reset I used to go to the art gallery, search for a painting that would arrest
no specific feeling—I wanted to be either surprised or held
I’d carry a little notebook with me and sometimes leave my phone at home
or else mostly ignore it or only take pictures—now M
wants to go to the art gallery. we all do. I told her this afternoon
that I was running towards the blue, an imagined blue screen that hung in front of me
like something I would never reach—the Aegean, I said, mourning
the dead recast as heroes, or not heroes exactly but figures of tragedy, ancient 
consequence, betrayed mores—I’d downloaded the audio from a movie that I’d watched
the previous night, listened to it with headphones—she said in her next message
that my voice sounded different than it did elsewhere—
I liked what she said, more alive to itself, something like that—while she searched
for the word I thought immediately and without hesitation it was “open”
something that in this quarantine I have sometimes struggled to do—
tonight I read a book that surprised me, then I got out of bed to fulfill a promise
I kept making and breaking—to smoke weed on the back deck
let myself feel or concentrate on the action—to take deep and slow breaths
back in bed a sound is coming out of my throat
except it is noiseless—full and round and like a kiss on the neck