Heroes and Villains

Oliver fiddled with his cape as the school nurse prodded his swollen eye with her gloved finger. Across from them, occasionally releasing a small sigh, was the principal, "Having trouble at home, son?" said the principal. The boy turned away defiantly, closing his eyes, "Nothing I can't handle," he replied cooly.Now smoothing out the wrinkles in his tights, Oliver requested the old bra he had been using as a mask. The principal declined, saying Oliver's father was on his way. No sooner had the principal finished talking when a man burst through the door. He had on a metallic black leotard, studded leather gloves, and a headdress of poorly-glued felt. His mouth contracted into a cruel sneer, "It's just like you to ask for outside help." At that Oliver's hands transformed into rocks and a river ran between them.



It's red lights' throbbing glow
soaked into a bandaged night
as I spied
through two frames
the face of a woman faintly
pushing fog against the pane
of her mask.

Her breath flowed in waves,
blossomed like frost,
as her eyes, bobbled
to each spoken statistic
which hovered,
ephemeral and lucid,
in an ever-expanding haze.

I followed them for some time
through a neighborhood
shaped like a grate
till we reached a small embankment
and, with the utmost reverence,
they lowered her into the numbing arms
of the river, lighting the stretcher on fire.
It burned like a hearth.

I knelt in the tire tracks,
back to the flames,
and tried to make out shapes
in my billowing words.


That's Not How You Do A Knife Fight

I thought we had to light candles,
shake hands and say the magic words;
then drink the blood of a recently deflowered
high-school dropout, spitting the last drops over
each others shoulders simultaneously to ward away
hurt feelings. Then the crowd would cheer and sing
the chorus of some ancient opera while we stare into the depths
of our opponent's blades, savoring the moment like the fine scotch.

There should have been music: heavy on the brass and violins like murder;
a crescendo as I nearly missed his jugular, leaving my soft body unprotected.
There should have been a crowd, spaced evenly in a circle, all holding hands
and thirsty for blood,

but instead there were two people circling each other;
one with a gun, the other with a roll of quarters clenched between his teeth,
carrying a motorized scooter that runs on honeycomb runoff with a belt
and one of those things you shouldn't handle without gloves and they just
circled each other, knifing the air, knifing the air without a care in the world.


Over the Door

A tiger's stripes

Its body wooden,
flecked white,

standing absently
in an ocean
of spotted gold
like a fraction
between the dim,
coarse night
and itself.


Nacre-Laquered Camera Obscura

Shades of blue
and blue and white:
a column
of ascending death
tangles a swath
of light, refracted
upwards as each peak
rejoins the swell,
churning, caressing
the rough face
of the coastal shelf.

Everything is difficult
to place, blurred as
in the first dewy waking
moments. I yell,
"focus," try to adjust
in the absence of bent light,
close one eye to flatten
the overlapping images,
but I am too taken
by my rainbow-tinted
screen to greet the chemical
taxis with our rhinoceros pores.


The Gentle Bouncer

The gentle bouncer
lives in a house
full of probably ghosts
three-quarters of the time.

The other quarter
he is probably a ghost.

Select gifted people sense him
through vibes;
through the resounding floor boards
that bellow into a space
full of glass
full of space
and rain water.