on the poetics of graffiti

On a day I seemed to have a difficult time approaching, I sat on the inside of an air-conditioned Corporate Chain Coffee Shop, staring out its window. I watched a human graffiti an elephant on a steel-gate shutter protecting a closed storefront. He stepped back every few minutes to view, carefully studying the drips and dimension of curves.

His elephant, flecks of white against grey.

My elephant, the thirsty wanderer curled mass behind my teeth.

I think about an evening in Nebraska with the artists and poets. After drinking wine out of red plastic cups. After baptizing my nudity beneath the not-quite summer night. We sat around the crackling of a fire, sharing our names and spirit animals. I announced: elephant.

Someone spoke out, “But why?”

And I said, “Because I like their wander. Their desire and drive to reach water.”

What I forgot to speak: Because their skin and ivory is hunted and I’ve been hunted. Because of their mass. Because of the strength of their footprints.

I finished my coffee and grabbed my things. I wasn’t ready to be a worker yet. I wanted to exist as just a wanderer. Be elephant, instead of human.

I walked by the graffiti artist and stopped. I said, “Thank you. For creating.”

Then, I noticed that it wasn’t an elephant actually. Rather, a boar. Hairless pig. Predator of wolf. Though comparatively, it has fewer predators than most animals, so it tends to run free. More importantly, they are solitary. Solitary roamers.

Perhaps I am more boar than I ever imagined.

something about an elephant

She wandered for days.

Ran her feet against the mud of summer. Her toes, painted every shade of brown including brown.

She preferred the opposite of solitude, but she was without the others this time. Ten years of this time. 

She overheard the one wearing name tag and uniform that she was difficult. Taciturn. Grueling to approach.

Someone, decades ago, named her Happy.

Now, she refuses to even stitch her name to her tongue, knowing the irrelevance of its sound.

To describe her morning, one would have to be patient enough to sit through her silence. She meditates until her blood sizzles, vibrating her veins. Then, she shakes her bones like a moondance and heads back into her mute.

She fell in love only once. For one day. Minus the hours she had slept. Another with skin like hers but darker. A wrinkled revision of flesh. They would rub their differences into each other like art. They never spoke or shared names. They simply breathed in each other’s remnants of breath.

She recalls the scent of her love’s mouth breezes to be like the sulfur salt spring water she always smelled in her dreams.

Now, she remains. There is nowhere left for her to visit besides the stories in her mind; that they cannot take from her.

where voices come from

You were not aware your voice could slur like that and harmonize with the bend of your neck. You had no idea that notebooks could smoke cigarettes even though you gave nicotine up more than a year ago but bergamot can easily be rubbed into the spine to eliminate the odor of addiction. You were unclear on the ways in which love could swing against you like a hammock built from bones and maps. No one ever told you that paper could be used as bandages, wrapped like gauze around the parts that have a difficult time healing. And instead of ointment, ink. And instead of sound, footnoted gasps explaining the music of this effusive way of living.

emergency contact.

It is 5 something in the part of the morning where it is still dark and quiet and the floor does not creek above. Sleep is being digested in every direction. Your body is cold or covered in sweat. Your only company is the dryness on your skin asking to be itched. You are nude or gathered up in cotton. It is too soon for an alarm to alert you to wake. Not too early for cars to speed over potholes; you can hear their tire marks and the traffic lights turn. You can hear the weight of too many thoughts climb away from you. Who do you call?

The sun is in a dressing room somewhere, too high up to be captured by photographers. It is getting fitted for a new layer of heat. If the sun could speak, it might stage a performance piece that addresses the discomfort of trying on anything new. It has a complicated relationship with the moon; in this moment, they are treating each other with silence. There are birds, but the phone cord doesn’t reach. Alone, the sun wishes to call someone, but its height and burn has pushed everyone away.

The elephant gets distracted by the shine of water reflecting off rocks and leaves like skinny, green rafts. The others have gone off and it can feel a shutter resonate from the ground below. Footsteps can be a map back toward where one needs to go: an indentation or rhythm of heel pounding against earth. But the connection is bad and these impressions are full of static. So, the elephant remains. There is nothing left to eat here, so it chews on its loneliness, caught up in the grooves of teeth and breath. Time is marked by temperature drip and the way the light turns into an overwhelming shadow.

The human sits inside a room, which is window’d and warm. Their body is empty from dreams carting away the indigestion of the previous day’s meals. They search for the right words to call this feeling. Letters become replaced by soundswhich become a collision of wails. This human ages and is alone. Feels like the sun because although this human has been described as bright, isolation has become its emergency contact. Feels like an elephant because although this human has been titled traveler of pages, wrinkles of sad decorate each fold and tumble of bones.

It does not get easier. So there is a cling to meditation and old habits. There are diets and doors. Everyone is so attached to the plastic in their pockets, but when it rings, no one answers.

If this were an emergency, could you be found?






but in your grey, talk about how you arrived

but when your palate splits inside the roof of your rage, talk about the moment you found breath or you found enough soil to sift through the palms of your voice and you dreamt earth

but when you feel hunted or hunt-less, storm the sky for tracks of lightening

but when you grieve, sip on oceans not spiked weep

but you can walk and you can swallow and you can bend and you can still you can still

but when you leak, pour harassed heart into another

but when you dry, find that place in your body that moans

but when you leave, draft words into blotted beams of light and let them know and let them know where you left off