“In the Libraries of the Future” and Two Poems

In the Libraries of the Future

Children dump buckets of oil into each other’s eyes. The library’s shelves of buckets, countless. This is how children learn what once was. Glug, glug, glug, into their eyes go the names: pteranodon, polar bear, Oregon. Years ago the book-sniffing dogs were deployed. Miserable German shepherds loosed in every district, Times New Roman held to their noses. Now the children dance to descriptions of music. A network of computers turns the world. “My favorite dinosaur,” a child says, “is the plum.” “No,” another child says, “the poem.” “No,” the first child says, “the sea.” Yes, the other child, weeping oil, says. “The sea.”

The Slug

Across the concrete planter, through pools
                of false moonlight, the slug—

        glides. Makes for itself a river beneath
the soft boat of its body, vanishes

                        in the lantana. Along its back
                                        a code, a secret

                                plan for helicopters, clue
                about forgotten medicines. Intelligence

        of slime, which is my intelligence. We are
siblings in the velvet heart.

If only we could decipher
                the alphabets we secrete into space,

        unlimited hell
                of fact, cost, material.

                        Suffer with me, twin. Ride the river
                you lay like a train track down

        for yourself, o glowing locomotive
remembering rain. It isn’t fair, but

look at me—you can’t.
        Even if I could, on a night like this,

                                I would not light that lamp again.
                        The singular night, a clarinet, we

        a single trembling note, turned away
                        from the ear of God.

Mulberry Tree

While on my walk I watch a mockingbird
assail a larger crow & think, that’s good.
It’s good to see the unknown singer taking on
a titan of apostleship. Lately, I’ve collapsed

into a sadness with no shape or history.
No, no, no is everywhere, I wait for no, I know
the no is coming in its oily augur’s robe.
But then I pass beneath the mulberry tree,

behold the smears of purple on the ground
where the heavy fruit has fallen. God I want
to speak beneath, to speak within, oh God
you alphabet of crows—preserve the tree

& mockingbird, the sadnesses that smear
with purple stars my anonymity.


When Mother names me does she reclaim her own decay. I am born and I am dying. Doctor holds my tits in his hands. My flesh which is not my flesh retracts.


In the golden years, I forgot to turn / the lights off, bulbs gleaming like keyholes — / is anything a mirage if it lingers / in the dark?

Scallion Pancakes

Even lizards, starfish, and sea cucumbers
Can regrow their limbs,
Like the scallions did after my mother
Gave them a haircut before dinnertime.