didn’t we dance? (after the poetry marathon)


i guess i should 
start at the end 
since it's magic 
with you 
on the sidewalk 
across the city street 
from my headlong dash 

i'm the one for whom 
the drop of water 
clings to its mother brick not to sprinkle my hairdo in passing 

i laughed when I looked at you, god 
what a goon squad 
your caps silhouetted the afternoon haze 
to pleasure the gaze 
yeah, team 

one tall skinny black man with mirrors for eyes 
wears beat up cowboy hat carries brand new army hat 
one snotty new york jew 
(brown leather beanie) 
a rubbery little imp of odd innovation 
(long strings of grey hair tucked up under snug leather) 
and on the left a strider 
(brimmed and gauntleted, of course) 

coming to join the itinerant angel 
with loose lips 
who has the ancient and 
annoying habit 
of dancing in the streets
barefoot
(scarf) 

and 

didn't we find it today? 
didn't we stamp our feet and throw out our hands 
an' tell em we ain goin home 
go ahead an get crazy 
we right on 
your own turf 
with never a weapon
an' time enough left 
to make hash browns out of in the morning and 
probably curtains for this place as well 

an' we movin you out, dig? 
it's gonna get so hot fe you here right quick 
that you ain't even gonna be able to stand 
to come too close without 
screamin somethin out an 
givin you ass away, chump 

mob rule, did you say? 
well, not for a while 
we want a home here there's 
a runway going up 
and we don't want to drive for hours to get there 
(though we usually can drive for marathon stretches)

SO WHAT, YOU DON' SLEEP? 
EVEN WE CAN DO THAT 
YOU OUGHT TO JUST LET US TAKE OVER I'D SAY IT 
LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE MAKING WAR WHERE 
NO WAR WAS BEFORE 

... no, no war 
just placid, contemptuous victims 
all busy looking for their own pain in each other's faces 
and aimlessly branding it 
punishable 
or worse yet
not branding it at all 

we want a home here

and all that we need 
is our books to create it 
from pencils and pens its beams will be fashioned 
and papered with poems 
with songs for the windows when 
opened to birds in the morning 

and didn't we find it there? 
didn't we build it up, block by block word by word 
patiently unafraid? 
didn't they gibber and scream in a circle about us? 
and didn't we drag ourselves up its wood stairs
at the end like ruined warriors 
voices in tatters but smiles on our faces 
we polished it off like it weren't even there 
ho, man 
we spoke 'ere language this time 

we know just for what we're asking 
we made every list around 
but we're betting on the irish angels to place this race 
and a damn good show at that 
what's more, we're betting we know how to ask it 
and who we are actually asking it for from we know there's no home for us but the stars 
no friends but the unicorns, spiders and 
bees and such as these 
though we find lovers everywhere 
we even found some here to help us build our bubble 

what worth a bubble, you ask, well 
what else is a world? 
just say it's so, people 
and it's so much so it looks like it never was not! 

watch 

listen 

for hour upon hour to the teachers 
the diligent sweater clad sisters of learning 
they'll weave us a tale on their loom of a lap 
surround us with brothers and sisters to help with the comforter 
(fingers of air do amazing good stitching) 

they bid us to sing then with voices uplifted 
to resonant chanting round skull caverns 
deep in the earth, in the wet grass the feet they are planted 
and the head it's so light it is up in the clouds 
from breathing and squeezing, accordion like 
projecting the sound across canyons of hellish howling 
to where you are sitting, for 
space does not actually exist here 
nor does time 
it's our home, remember we make up the rules 

proof you want, well 
we'll just read rhyme in the battle zone for 
seventy two hours while grenades fall around us 
and come up still smiling just the four of us 
and whoever happens by, ready? 
go 

and don't even stop to look behind you 
if they catch you not only do you die 
(which after all might happen anyway) 
but whole worlds extinguishing with you 
will moan and scream and sob in 
unendurable multitudes of torments but us 
you can't hurt 
we die and aren't hurt 
we kick up our heels 
and run in the wind 
and aren't hurt 

and by not being hurt 
we bolden the masses 
to jog from their armchairs for one flaccid moment 
by which we survive 
but our business is larger than just our survival 
that's given by both camps 
perfect survival 
is what we are after 
survival with joy 
and with rippling brooklets 
and time to look in them 
and listen to singing 

and didn't we dance? 
didn't we bend at the middle to squeeze out the words
and to hold back the hunger 
and cold that were sent us? 
didn't we uncurl our arms 
and let loose from straight fingers
our loveliest gestures of sweet implication? 
didn't we sweep at the air with broad palms 
demure behind fans and our books? 
didn't we throw back our heads and 
howl at the moon in our madness? 
and didn't we reach down 
further down than our feet
to our bottom-most guts 
and fling up the syllables formed there 
whilst waving our hands to disperse them 
like bubbles before us? 

and didn't our minds and hearts dance 
as we sat breathless watching 
from perilous peaks to dizzying heights 
pirouetting 
in mid void? 
and didn't we lean over caverns of credulity and razor edged cliffs of conjecture 
lean so far it looked like we couldn't get back 
and some of us didn't 
for better or worse? 

the happenings there were so lovely of course 
there were several births of all sizes and kinds 
bursts of light 
in bluegreengrey hazel eyes 
three poets were born before my own eyes 
full groan 
and already reading aloud with coherency 
nay, with good grace 

here 
you do what you want 
wearing your prettiest dress every day 
telling your favorite stories 
thinking and feeling your favorite things 
they say you'll get tired of it

they lie

we proved it 

you really find out 
you had many more favorites 
seemed hardly the time to gather them in 
and regrets for some missed 

tonight i connected he said with somethin 
there ain't even words for 
it took me so high that i did it without crank 
and then couldn't even tell the papers, goddamn it 

look, people, look 
see my cock? 
it's alright 
so is yours 
it's a person, a house 

(so is art 
he showed up several times 
usually calling himself arthur 
in brownblondblack hair 
and a small mustache 
standing under the sign 
of libra) 

the only way your cock will hurt you 
is if you hurt it first 
by putting it into cramped itchy places for days on end 
then of course it'll fight back 
if you call it names 
don't listen when it asks for things 
and burp and leave the hall light on, my god 
you'd get crabby too 
and leave pits in the basement 
for you to fall into and disappear 
so you could trip off with somebody else, y
yold fart! 

he's got loose lips too 
and it ain't just ships they sink, hey they 
raise ships back up before the sinking 
we said perfect survival, remember? 

then they asked why we did it 
how answer 
with what we have made as though it never was? 
it always has been so with the workings of the wise 
who find perfection and polish it forth 
with diligent servitude and happy abandon 
rule three being opposites mean one another 
which is what makes nursery rhymes go round, little gems 
maybe we'll read some at the next marathon man 
and maybe you who are not men will come as you did then 
and cluster about us 
and breathe down our necks as we stare at the pages 
when no one was there but us angels 
at four in the morning 
when i read the prophet from cover to cover 
with predawn accompaniment of vigilant sparrows 
'twas then that i breathed forth my finest performance 
my voice ringing back 
from the moonlit ceramics and glass of the cafe croissant 
i did not gesture but a little swayed
in psychic winds
pronouncing benediction
fully robed after 
last night's resounding invocation 
at the 36th hour 
the hour of trial 
the top of the mountain ... 

it adds up to 9th and the k street mall 
it adds up to our little house 
and the beams of our spirits 
as our sweatered sisters chant for us that 
death shall have 
no 
dominion 

it took me five and a half hours to write this and i ran 
all the way home to do it
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