8

I was to water her orchid. Never before had I cared for one. There’s an aggressive tenderness to the nature of the plant, to her behavior. Her needs need to be anticipated.

I watered her as instructed. I undressed her from her ceramic and released her, exposed, into a shallow pool of tap water. The duration, I don’t remember. “More than four hours”, I was told, was enough. “More than four hours, less than a day.” I did what I was told.

I drained the excess into the metal sink where I wash the dishes and pour cold coffee. I waited for her. That is how it works with the orchids. You wait. Used and unused, standing in a dance without movement.

Carefully, I redressed her, and nature blew a contemptuous breath that fell a flower, symmetric, stem intact. And I watched her abruptness sit me flat in my flawed attachment to meaning.

Because she can.

6

Here is a portrait
Incomplete
Of a man, I see
Flat, 2d
Of a man, I know
Just barely
Through memories
That are not from me.

He was born in the year of the Earth Monkey,
A Gemini, like my mother. His mother,
A washer; his father,
A master miller.
Both are now dead.

He loves dogs.
“No.
He loves any animal
That obeys him.”
       Once
He trained a pig to act like a dog.
Imagine that.
Kept the porker on a leash
Took it for walks
-Bit people too but

“Only at his command,
Of course.” Of course.

He likes his beer blonde
Like his hair, and The Thief King is
His f  a  v  o  r  ite book, and
It’s like Game of Thrones
‘Cept no one knows it
Except him.
(Accept him) playonwords

I want you to know
That

He is somewhere

Breathing,

Pink masses stretching and releasing
Beneath
A cage of his bones.

Maybe coughing
Or rubbing
The cold from his eye with a knuckle
Or feeling
His palms grow cool against metal.

He is somewhere and
These are just words
That you read. A portrait
Incomplete
Of a man, you see
Flat, 2d
Of a man, you know
Just barely
Through memories
That are not from thee.

3

A thumbnail
warm and smooth
–is it my own?–
presses a dent into
the flesh
of my lower lip. Cold fingertips stroke
the flat of my shoulder blade.
Heat radiates as though
the bones
were fresh off the coals.

It’s a binary dance of the senses;
this heat and
this cold.

O Consciousness,
where do I place thee?
In these fingertips that look up at me,
pushing forward, coaxing me
like anxious dogs in need
or
in this blood-rushed flat disk that shifts
with grace in tandem
with….

I look up.
The ceiling above me once leaked. Brown stains flush
and look to spread like mushrooms, but
I know they don’t grow.
I push my back into the wood chair
and feel the soft shag
of my coat’s inner lining brush
my neck as my head
leans back.
The narrow pressure of the chair’s top rail provides
a point of focus
for my overstimulated mind.
I feel soothed.
Pressure always releases.
The rounded aluminum aglet of my hoodie’s
drawstring, I twist it like a nipple.
I look down to the round table and see
that my pen has
–count them–
six sides. “Hex,” I smile.

Moments pass and
this cappuccino has cooled and
I don’t want it anymore.

A smooth muffled gasp of air escapes the closing door, and
I’m reminded that it’s cold outside.
I button up. But,
these buttons won’t stay closed. The cloth is soft.
Excessively.
A consequence of fearing the roughness of life,
the way in which she skins us.

Out the window
webbed trees travel
and unravel light
and shadow,
their broken ends remind me
of something I can’t
quite recall and I feel
the edges of my palms ache
from the anger of yesterday.
Can doors ache as well?
I hit one pretty hard. I wonder if
this body of mine
will always
carry the weight
of my mind. Does it matter?
Another question with no answer
and I close my eyes.

Hair makes noise if you caress it.
Sounds like
rolling in dry grass,
leaves, on a fall day. I listen
to the sound
of sugar shower
from a paper torn
down into
his warm ceramic cup. It’s night, so
life is found
on the inside. Inside
this old coffee shop,
I sit
with life.