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

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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