Bartleby and Emily Dickinson’s First Date

He answers the ad: SWF seeks Master – after studying it
for weeks.

After a nervous call, they meet for dinner.
He is impressed by her indifference to the salad, her unabashed intentions
towards the Porterhouse.

Afterwards, they see a poorly-chosen
Hollywood blockbuster or an art film.
Emily revels in the full-frontal nudity. Bartleby shifts visibly. She finds this sort of cute
so she coaxes him out of his overcoat and he feels a thin hand
in the dark.

When the date is over,
Bartleby mutters something about doing her taxes and she laughs
a high harmonious sound
like the movement of gulls in winter.
This startles Bartleby and indeed the whole waking world. She pulls him close and whispers:
Call me if you wish my lord.

But her breath smells like steak sauce.
So he makes a feeble, poorly-chosen excuse. It will haunt his days
like dismemberment.



It Is Not Fake; Therefore, It Is Real

Let us pretend there are no rules.
It is Texas Death and anything goes. It is come-as-you-are,
it is do-as-you-please.

So bring your hair.
Even if you wear a Mexican mask, it will still fall about you
like garlands.

I will also be masked and will be known as
The Mystery,
famous for my vicious clothesline. My cruel and unyielding
figure-four leglock.

My interviews are blood-baths of shocking violence and
staring promise.

you will surely prevail.
Late in the match, the crowd on your side, you will take off your mask in
unparalleled rage.

In the background,
a bursting of fireflies.

In the half-light of the enormous egg-shaped convention center,
I will see you as if we were alone:
that back booth by the pool table
the touch of your shoe on mine.



High and Outside

After the revolution, sorry
The Revolution,
they all played some baseball. Lots of people
don’t know this.

They were known as
The Bearded Ones:
a barnstorming pack of green sweaty khaki
in gleaming black curls.
Historians in enormous classrooms high as cathedrals
say: He did this to reach out in a sort of . . . diplomacy but they are as wrong
as the ancient Popes.

Because Che Guevara on second spitting into the dust
and Castro, lanky on the mound with his boxed hat
is a formidable lineup in any arena.

He plugs high and outside

and the smell of warm peanuts passed around in high paper bags encourages the People
to silently yearn for un pelotazo.

What he really wants:
to hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium like a screaming gull
or a tight white missile. But he contents himself
with Miguel Fernandez Ruiz, shortstop, 21,
from Caraguas.



Liberal Arts

It is always some ridiculous fact.
Like hummingbirds mate once and tragically so
before collapsing into a glue of wet feathers
on a high, snowy mountain at the feet of chaste monks.

Or pupaed gnats that immolate themselves only in the candles
of tiered birthday cake.
Or some ancient Mayan ritual
where a beaded, somber woman (come on)
makes a scrape in the mud and this is her soul.

the day we spent looking at your clean white photographs. Your sister giving a stiff Irish bird
next to a clueless M. Mouse. She in the shadow
of his giant, unwieldy planetoid head.
A day like peaches and orange drink. I was not there; she is not here
and likewise.

No it is always junior faculty in catalog clothing on the edge of their delivered couches,
staring into the Discovery Channel as if it had beautiful eyes
(as in: brown or blue or some partnered You). The channel’s broad, tenored voice now:
“Most penguins spend up to 75% of their life in water.” and that’s good! that’s so perfect! they say to the walls, to their khakis,
writing it down like directions to a party to which they bring wine.

Never feeling a knife like a Popsicle at the nape of their neck,
cold as the nineteenth century. Or the years spent alone
at a brown, grey school.



The Beautiful Sandwich

She could always make
the most beautiful sandwich. Laced swiss cheese: sliced crossways, folded once.
Ham in rolls like sleeping bags. Turkey piled like shirts. Tarragon. Oregano. Pepper.
Herb dill mayonnaise the color of
skin. On top: the thin, wandering line of mustard
like a contour on a map in a thin, flat drawer.
Or a single, lost vein.
The poppyseeds hold on, for now.

Placed on the plate like isolated driftwood
or a large, solemn head.
The spilled chips in yellow piles are like the strange coins
of tall, awkward islanders.
The thin dill pickle: their boat slides into
the green-sour sea.