My Third Marriage


He is harbored by termites. The un-teethed borrow his shelter call and whisper: Lu. He is teethed. She is Lu. She is massacred on his front lawn. He hides behind a curtain. His body is naked and thin and bony. Her body is half naked and dead and is on the grass. Her body looks like a broken tent. The garbage man makes $17 every hour. He stops the truck. He puts her body in a bag. He starts the truck.


Hank and Helen have an undeveloped marriage. Helen ties Hank to a bedpost and tells him that he looks like a chipmunk. Helen beats Hank with a stick. Hank cries and bleeds and his skin is red. Helen rubs her fingers on his back. Helen licks her fingers. The family doctor has short hair and tiny fingers. Don’t hit Hank when he is tied up, the doctor says. He looks at Hank. Hank is still tied to the bed. His face is on the wooden floor. The legs of the bed are in the air. Ok, Helen says.


The five year old boy buries his uncle in the garden. His uncle is green and has puffy cheeks. His Uncle’s eyes are like little marbles. I think his eyes will explode soon, the boy thinks. Maybe I should just bury his head, the boy thinks. The boy will learn to add 5’s in class today. His teacher will tell him to count with his hands. One, two, three, four, five. His teacher is tall like a lady and smells like the women that leave his father’s office in the springtime. They have red faces then, the boy thinks.

The boy goes to the garage and gets a saw. It will be easier to bury his head without his body, he thinks. His uncle’s body is not green and is not puffy. The boy begins to saw. The Uncle’s body twitches. I better saw quickly, the boy thinks. Soon, he will be able to count 5, 10, 15, 20.


The prostitutes look like chickens. But they make $75 every hour and they can count by 75’s and they don’t mind being tied up.



My Second Marriage


Hal is a tall man. He has long fingers. He sits next to Sally. Sally is a slim girl. She has long hair and she laughs like she is a kitten. Hal and Sally sit on a LoveSeat. Their knees touch. Hal thinks Sally has beautiful arms. I am going to ask her to hold my hand, Hal thinks.

“Will you marry me?” He asks instead. Hal thinks he might have wanted to ask Sally something else. He is nervous and his stomach is like an empty ship that weighs as much as a city. Cities are heavy, Hal thinks.

Sally looks at Hal. Hal is sweating. “Yes.” She says. She touches Hal’s leg. She puts her nose into his arm and he can tell that she is smiling. She starts to laugh like a kitten. I am going to have to make her round now, he thinks. She is going to want me to make her round, he thinks. His forehead starts to sweat.


Hal and Sally buy a house that has three stories and a basement. The windows on the house are like giant eyes. Hal thinks the house looks like an insect. He huddles under his shoulders and sulks. Sally walks into the house and does not look at Hal. She wears a yellow sun dress and she glows.

Of course she glows, Hal thinks. He walks into the basement where it is dark. The previous owner did not clean out the basement. Hal finds an old chair and sits in the chair. There is no light in the basement. He can hear Sally walk on the wooden floors.

Then he hears her climbs the stairs. She will want this room to have twins, he thinks. She will want that room to be a studio. He shakes his head and buries his chin into his chest. Soon, he is asleep.


Hal is awake and his twin daughters are on the bed. One of his twin daughter’s looks like a little plastic doll. She has round eyes that stick out of her head. When she laughs she sounds like a baby monster. Hal thinks that he might have to smother her.

The other twin does not laugh. The other twin looks at Hal and stares and Hal begins to sweat. I might have to smother her too, Hal thinks. I don’t want to kill my daughters, Hal thinks. He retreats to the basement and frets.

Sally cuddles the twins and carries them to the store. She holds the twins under her arms. The twins make little sounds, Cu-cu-cu. Sally smiles and wears her yellow sun dress. It is already spring and the big house with giant eyes is surrounded by greens and violets.


It is winter and the twins are home and married and both of them are round. They have married doctors and the doctors wear white coats and smoke pipes on the balcony. The doctors call Hal father. Hal looks at his watch and wonders when he can go into the basement.

“Congratulations.” Hal says to the doctors.
“Thank you.” The doctors say.

The women are in the kitchen and there is snow on the lawn. Sally laughs. She has wrinkles on her neck. The daughters rub their bellies. Hal looks at the two men in front of him. They have good posture.

“I only wanted to hold her hand.” He says and walks inside.



400 Years


Whores have little arms.


I cannot read the sign because I cannot read. The freckled woman says that I am too young to read but the boy that Julie likes can read.


I wrote a poem for Julie and decided to take it to her. Her mother told me she wasn’t at home but I heard her laugh in the other room. Her mother told me it was Julie’s sister. I asked her mother to give Julie the poem.

“I wrote it for Julie.” I said.
“Yes, dear. Yes, of course.” Her mom said.


Maybe Julie’s mother will give Julie the poem and Julie will read the poem and Julie will like me. Then she won’t like the boy who can read. Not after she reads my poem.


“How did you write the poem if you can’t read?” My brother asks me.
“Shut up.” I tell him. He doesn’t know anything about poems.
“I bet you just drew her a picture and called it a poem.” He says.
“Shut up.” I tell him again and walk out of the room.


I live on a street that has cars. At night, men and women sit in the cars. I don’t know why they don’t sit at home or on the porches. They probably can’t read.


The two whores on the street have shortened leggings. One of them is loosened in a sprawl and she is on the sidewalk and she is crying. She looks sad like it has ended. I saw a girl like this once, on television. My mother said it was a crack whore who didn’t do nothing right.


I tell the whore that she is a heathen. That is what Julie told the other boy in class and he laughed. I think it will make her laugh. She doesn’t hear me. So I tell her again.

“Heathen!” I shout.

I laugh like my brother laughs. I grab my belly and laugh like my brother laughs. He has a deep rooted laugh. I sound like I am old.


The other whore slaps me in the face.


The whores walk away. They walk down the alley. There are rats and other things in the alley. The alley looks like it moves in the dark. It is dark now. I guess they are going to cry in the alley where it is dark.


Heathens, I say again. I laugh again and decide to write Julie a poem.


There is a sign on my corner. I cannot read it. But there are bullet holes in the sign and someone wrote red words over black words. I decide to copy the sign. The red words are easier to read. I decide to copy the red words and not the black words.


I take the sign off its post and run away. I can copy the sign and give it to Julie. She will think I can read and then we will be together and she will not like that other boy.


The black letters say: Whites Only Beyond Here.


I run out of the city center and find a nice neighborhood with tree swings and wrap around porches. I sit on the front lawn of a big blue house. I copy the sign on a piece of paper from my uncle’s desk.


Later, I leave the sign on Julie’s front deck. Julie and I will hold hands now, I think. I am home.


Whores have little bellies.



{3} Homelessness

One by one, like stars, the fortune teller reveals the faces of the cards.
This one stands for death, this one stands for life, this one marks a transformation.
Her face is broad & blank as the space in the sky. She says:
The life that came before this one haunts you still, like a dog nipping at your heels,
But it is the life afterwards you most fear.
She turns another card.
This one means, 'Heaven is a white line on blank paper,' & though it is true
it is also false, so you will forget many times & lose much to your carelessness.

Two blocks away the shelter is busy. It is Christmas, & even the hardest-
hearted kids need to be near each other, or start a disruption, or go to jail.
One by one their faces tell a story. This one stands for death, this one for life,
this one marks a transformation. They are like a wave who does not remember
the ocean. It is our story. It is the only one we know.


My First Marriage

In January, he makes her round. She smiles and rubs her belly. He looks at her and says that she looks like a snowflake. She makes snow angels in the back of the store. Maybe I am a real angel, she thinks. Real angels have wings, she thinks. She goes inside and makes wings out of cardboard boxes. He decides not to move to the other county.

He is not as strong as she thinks he is. He weeps in the forest and makes little cuts in his arm. The winter makes the world look like it is covered in a white cloak. They cannot see me under the cloak, he thinks. She does look like a snowflake, he thinks. He continues to weep in the forest.

When it is spring, he buys her. She costs $5.75 and weighs more than he thinks she should weigh. It is difficult for him to carry her home. He tells her that she is like a log that is made of lead. The log would sink in the pond, he thinks.

“You should lose weight.” He says.
“I am round.” She says.
“When will you not be round?” He asks.
“When the baby is born.” She says.
“When is the baby born?” He asks.

In May, he stops listening to her. He starts to think about the men in the alley. The men that look like dogs. At least they don’t tell me they weigh less than mules, he thinks. It is more often, then, that he gets drunk and starts to make zig-zags in his hair. He does not go into the forest to cry anymore. The men pat him on the back and tell him he should learn how to swim.

In the summer, she is left in a cage for most of the time. The cage has thin bars but she cannot fit through them. She does not like sitting in the cage. When he comes home, he is drunk and he smells like he has made babies with barmaids and women who think that the in and out is a game that is like hide and seek.

“Why else would the women undress in the men’s room?”
“I don’t know.” She says.
“Because they think it makes them invisible.” He says.
“Oh.” She says.

She does not understand because she is round like a watermelon. Actually, she looks more like a balloon. Her face is puffy and it looks like she is sick. The one window in the house has been closed and it is hot in the house. Her cage is in the middle of the house. It is hot in the cage. She is hot.

“That way we cannot see them.” He continues, after he has taken off his shoes. He does not look at her. I paid too much for her, he thinks. “And that is not making babies if the women think we cannot see them. Also, the women think it is not cheating on their husbands if they do not have clothes on.” He adds.

“Oh.” She says. “Can I come out of the cage?” She asks him.
“I am tired.” He says and lies on the mattress in the other room.



Two Questions

What am I? I have lived my life in circles and so far it has come to nothing
but extraordinary. Apple fields, rosemary in the dark, I have walked the miles
to the moon and back, stopped time, transcended it once. Am I not like

the seconds, who pass so fast and feel so slow? With a perfect clock it is
easy to show how time moves quicker on the surface of heavenly bodies,
like the Earth. Once I dreamt my first love came to me (disguised as
a woman from TV); she said: Stick close to the surface of things,

and I knew she was right. That morning the Earth was bright and inviting,
like a blank sheet of paper, and I rode the subway drunk on smiling hours.
She didn't have to tell me twice; years ago I rose up from my body in a

N.Y. hotel room. There is no way to know how long the moment lasted, but from
that height I was given a chance to look at my whole life, until it ended, and
the glimpse was gone. I do remember what I had to do, though, how I had to
smile at how simple it was: to say yes to everything: to the moon and the silent

fields and the ocean running in circles. Even hurt had a place. It would be
some time before I heard the world whisper back and yes me to my place
in the order of things, but still the questions remain: who am I, what am I that

keeps finding myself around every corner, the seconds passing like rain so softly?


A Love Story


The angered mobs are insoled and marked in red soil. There are faces that are like children in the pews. But it is not un-ushered in the blank speech. He is bald and whispered hoarse. The deathless worm. It is the un-god. They think to kill the faced that have undug the unlifed life.


She makes copies of the tapes and sells them to the people in the streets of the market place. She makes the in and out and the long roll and she tapes the in and out and sells them. She sells the copies. The ripped apart, legged and un-legged, will liken the day to the dethroning of the heretics and the un-god.


The king wrestles fat women and eats out of a coke can. I don’t know how he does that. I think he splits the coke can with his pocket knife and then he pours pudding into the half can. His mother packs the pudding for him. She kisses him on the forehead. He says she has whored herself long enough. He says the pudding helps him wrestle the fat women. The women have yellow skin and eat fast food. They make noises when the walk. He wins money when he makes them look like walruses and little baby blue whales:



At last, I go to the circus. Sally says that she will go with me.


“Fat Women! Fat Women!” The circus, the circus. We will all go to the circus and yell: “Fat women, fat women!” It will finally be that time when Sally touches my leg and says that she likes me better than Bobby.

Oh fat woman, let him wrestle you good. When the death worm rings her neck at the end, I should have a kiss and then I can punch Bobby in the face because his mother is still a whore: “Your mother is still a whore,” I can yell. “My father paid for her last night,” I can yell. It will be fun if the king wrestles the fat women in the cage and makes her turn lion sounds and giraffe marches.

I wait for this to happen and the rested quiet is squandered into my dim.

On the other side, the painted fans video tape themselves. There will be more, lated and lasting in the after houred hemmed hell: this palace has scoured into its own feebled vomit. Rejoice, I think. The king is near to finished below.


We will. We cherished have lasted and lactated.

But outside, they are in tents and they have already turned their skin into reddened ribbons. It is not truced and dared to burn moats.


When I get stabbed in the back and my head turns into a watermelon I think: oh, this is not really the circus.




‘Surgeons hate insects.’ She says. She is undersized. She has short arms and black hair and pasted yellowed skin. She looks like a troll. I would ask her if she has seen the outside before. But I am in the back, near the door. The men and women continue to come and it is loud and the people do not shut the door. The woman sweats. Her shattered oversized lawn green shirt turns dark. She would not listen. She does not like insects.

‘None of us like insects much.’ She says and squats or moves off her seat and stretches her thighs, maybe. Nobody talks after that. Not at first. Nobody says anything and it is quiet. She listens and turns and then she spits on the floor and regains her plumped squash squatted figure and oversizes her chair. But she is undersized. Sort of. She has her hands crossed now. I am not sure I am in the right basement. It does not look like a church.

I wonder where the man is. I wonder, where is the man that says he thinks that Jesus would like to see people come in and shake hands with one another and cross themselves. Maybe he is already here. Maybe this girl is really him and he just wants us to cross her hands. I think about it, I guess, and decide not to cross my hands.

‘That girl is not well-educated.’ Some girl says, finally. I don’t think she meant to say it too loud, or out loud at all. But she did and now the whole room looks at her. The lights begin to flicker a little bit and it feels like it is almost hot. It will be spring soon. Spring is kind of nice. It is too bad that it isn’t going to come because it is time to get crossed. There are three men in the front row and now I can see their faces. They have beards and glasses and suits on and they stare at the girl. I think they must be holy to be in such a place and to sit in the front. I wouldn’t sit in the front.

‘I am a surgeon.’ The woman who is a troll says. Maybe she actually is a troll and sits under bridges at night barking at single men and wishing that bad things would happen to them when they walk home.

‘Then why did you spit on the floor? Do you know where we are?’ The girl might be smart. I am a little uncomfortable because the man still has not come and said that we will get crossed tonight. It might be tomorrow night. This happened before. He didn’t come and then he got tired or something and we had to go home. People were sad and kind of upset because they weren’t able to get crossed.

‘It’s not your problem.’ The woman snaps back. The woman does snap. She is like a tiny tree that breaks and turns into a stick and is thin. I think that there is going to be another silence and people are going to shift and someone is going to have to say something but the man who is to cross us suddenly barges into the room and tells everyone to stand up. He yells at some of the people. He points a lot and his face is red. I shake my head. This man is probably gonna talk for a really long time, I think.

The man talks for a really long time. He talks about the things that make the human world and I begin to get tired and my feet hurt and I wonder if I can ever get crossed without going through all this. But the man won’t stop talking. He is talking and pointing and yelling and the people are whispering amen and other things that they say in church. I look at the girl and she has her head down. Her lips are moving. I think she is praying. The troll is clapping her hands. It is funny, but I think that the two women are kind of friends now. Soon, my head begins to hurt and I begin to get angry. The man keeps jabbing and pointing.

It is too much talking. I sigh and leave the basement. I don’t think that it is ever going to happen. Never, even in the back alleys of my whored mother’s trailer park, did I think that getting crucified would be such a pain in the ass.



Unborn Made


The holed are un-done. The street plumbed: flushed in fire. Howled the embittered: a gentile embattled mayor is made. She nods. She has soft hands and she looks like a monster.


The walk to the dead is undershadowed and is lessened or dearth. She writes beginnings. He is a vacuum of the empty. It is the becoming of the monsters. The cloned skin, skinned, is undepthed and breathed out of its own fingered hose. The launches—the founds—commenced and amended, start: go and sell. We prostitute.


The undergated community, attacked in the duration of the starved, is now left squared and untouched. Those famined has come for the year and for the year the women have seeked.

These damned.


The damned live in the sparse, unlit, streets. The eyes are horrored from the holes. Made to stare into the undeserved faucet. Mottoed: Reflect and Repent.

The boned legged, the boned faced—the men and women in the seen dead. It is their urine that is the seen. An angelic animal would have eyes like they have.


In the closet, shadowed: I am wreathed to die. But now, against an anger undamaged and un-seen I would not dare to tread against the wagered hands. They afraid and dearthed: they deathed. And she is feared to be the pregnanted souled: soiled and distanced from the health of unlifed lived.

I will not let these hands tell me where I go. The walls have seemed, again, to seek my hide and I am un-toiled and unrolled.



Cursed and Damned and Helled


Murdered, sainted, left against the wall in a New England basement. Propped up with a plastic statue from a hockey tournament. In the fluorescence, the skin shines and look like marble. The whored men and women lurk in the pews on the North Side and ask Jesus for something. The cursed and damned and helled.


Instead, the steeded spit and watch their own blood sell itself out on a weekend on the coast. The children cheat themselves when they watch their mother in heat with street men.


The insects pretend to eat one another. But the six legged witted aren’t up to speed. Their own back and forth dependency swallowed. Alas, cursed. Try suicide later, it says on the board across the first floor of hell. Or, perhaps, it is too late—she is too late: the un-logged waterhole is fucking mad. These rabid and ragged drunks. Try suicide later and fuck off. Fucking god damn gazelles.


The brother and sister melting pot on the far side of paradise: nobody is looking. And it is only the two of us. Too fucking bad we have the same roots. Ah—damned.

The sweared—cursed and looking for bread—find a dead man with needles in his eyes. The holed whisper: thank Jesus. He seems unseemed, though, and the mother knits. A simple and pathetic little step toward salvation.


And in Hell, we breed. We breed, at last, we breed. In this house, we have eyes that seek the accused. We are the fringe of feared—of the murdered—of the murderer—of the murder. One, and once, last.


Butchered, mourned, sold for a dollar twenty-five at the corner store on Park and 49th. I see, she thinks. She has soil for her cactus. The sun is hot. She squats in the storm shelters in the park. She picks at her eyes. She squalors the first level. The heated fathers have erected themselves into parents and the children no longer see god.



{2} Thomas Says Goodbye to His Father

Deep in my being
It is easy to forget
The little things:

A pencil,
A word,
A blank sheet of paper.

Inside myself
I am speechless
Before the world,

Which is too busy singing
To be bothered
With the little things:

A life,
A death,
A word that must be written.



I always write down things
I need to remember.
I take baths to relax
or forget about the weather,
or whatever else is on my mind.
but I always try to mind the difference
between the world,
which flows,
and the words,
which are signs:
like "bath" and "I"; whether I am
a man dreaming of a mind,
or a mind dreaming up the world and the weather
and a man who writes down what he needs to



builded made


He has paper skin. The wetted pores desiccate and crack. He is soon to be likened to the clay statues. The bruised and aged shoulders turn against the skin: it is the unheralded legacy of kings. The under-voiced see: it is undone.


The scream is in ice. The coasts embitter and soil the heritages. The heir to the towered island is no longer poised—it has dissolved into the sewered basements of the malls and derailed its ego. It has been suicided and kilned. It has twisted itself into the ethereal. It will not persecute the un-awake again.

A legion (a generaled squalor) wades to the waited coast island and assails. The residential palaces, housed by presidential off-spring, are sordid dens: soldier homes. The legion makes the soldier frames into hobbled and flaccid bowls. The legion burns the dead men and women. The apprenticed youth collect the cut lumps from the floor.

“We have war on the outside.” He says and does not look at the dead men and women. He vomits and returns to the tents. He maddens himself in the up and down rhythms of his hound’s sleep.


In late summer, he is vomited on the housed steeps of his own plantation. His skin has sought to dissolve, and wrench into the walls of the oak. He is bended into the shadowed corner and eaten: there are no longer children in this home. He becomes statued and limp.

The whored basement molds. It is reeked and outed in long managed petting. On the back and forth scattered light of the balconies, the massacred men and women smile and point at the beak of a thinned commander. The indenture now wholed.


The autumns colors of red and yellow and orange begin to cover the shaded greens. The colors will go. Soon, the opened and the enlightened vacuum of space will undress. Once again, he will see the eyes of his enemies. Once again, he will wheel.

“I see them plot.” He whispers. And quickly, his skin is wetted and the cracks begin to mold—back into the heart of his frame. His feet re-seek in softed beat. His hands are in themselves: cloaked in twilight gray. He is re-made.

The urined legion is casted to the un-make .



when i am still
i find the line
that separates myself
from you.

when i am in motion,
i am part of the motion
of all things, and people, and time--
as the line goes,

losing my mind.

when i am still
inside me is an ocean,
and i am the horizon through which
it is always in motion.



The Art of Seduction [remix]

Are you ready? Don’t you know that everything dies, and too soon? There may come a time when you realize the days you kept to yourself amount to nothing more than dust in the sky, and the stars keep burning and dying long after the earth has stopped saying your name. You are One Life again, and though who knows what pleasures come when all the doors are unscrewed and thrown away -- when you find yourself taken as if by ocean into the flow of all things lost and possible -- even then:
something is missing.

I am outside.

The moon is watching us or thinking of herself. Either way--
Your life is waiting.

Stand and bear witness.



Revel in the Unleashed


The man does not eat. The man takes skeleton skins. The un-god has unleashed the hollow howls. He has told the children to take the eyes of the woman. It is a perked famine. The turned and staled satin vision of manhood erects—now endowed with the ins and outs of statues. The others, kept and unkempt, cower in the holes of loose boulders, skinned rain. He has told the children to take the eyes of the man.

Earlier, the heirs were strides. The monked politicians robed themselves in naked whores and gawked: the hallowed snakes began to tease and bless the drought. It is the rise of the madness, of the priest laden healer, that begins to turn the stomachs of unborn sinners. The women, already, are round and blushed in darkened cheeks and shame.


The priests begin to whip and sex the unfastened rogue of females. The tied bleed and unbleed and turn the un-god. The chanted march into graves above the earth and the revelations are here: it is the blood in the sea that is red. It is the blood in the rain that is here. It is no longer an un-god man: he is king.

The children take the eyed. It is the same pastured stare of the un-god. The red skinned blood is sanctified. It is an owned pagan rite. He is unveiled and taken in light. The woman will bury her fingers into herself and twist into the acts of mutilation. His blood is mine to drink, she will say. He is not the un-god, she will say. The others, here, pray to false idols.


He has unleashed a feeble ghost. It is an ungone truth. It is the sordid chants of the monks. And they are whores. The children here are now sordid orphans—diseased and dirted into the mourned lifed. They are base in stares and do not rein. They drink the un-god blood and are cursed.





I trace my finger to make shapes in the dark. The window is open and the shades are up. I am spelling words no one knows the meaning of -- not you or me or anyone we will meet in this lifetime. I am writing them on your skin: down your chest, around the calves, between your thighs. Outside the cries of street-boys come as if from another life; or else we are submerged under warm water, far from the surface world with its motors, and pavement, and signs pointing one way.

Did the house shake? Was that a bomb? In our darkness nothing gets in: if there is war outside then let them war. We have one rule: keep the lights off. It is easy tonight, with the moon absent in the sky, and the thick clouds covering up even the brightest stars. In the dark it is easier to lose myself so I become tangled in the folds and mistake the world for something I dreamt of, or consciously made up, like opening your mouth to talk only to find what comes out is a perfectly arranged poem. On the bed I hear you arrange yourself, limbs like a compass, your head aiming north past the mountains and the villages who know nothing of the world we spend our lives trying to escape. As I put my mouth on yours the roof begins to rattle with drops of rain, and the shouts outside grow frenzied and wild as the boys are caught in the onset of the storm; I imagine them running for cover, brown bare feet taking them to safety...


The pyramid is not like those in Egypt. It has seven points, and to the ancient men who built it meant not a resting place but an escape: from the boundless sky, and the long stretches of land that lay between men and the end of Earth, which is called the world. It grew oppressive, scholars say, to live, eat, and die bounded as if by invisible chains to the soil that waited with horrifying patience to eat us every man, woman, and child who walked, run, or slept upon it. The pyramid had a name which meant Dreaming Place; like dreams it provided relief from what we now barely even notice. Once you told me you dreamt that your father had gotten so mad, he took you in his hands and squeeeeeezed until he had shrunken you down to the size of a grain of sand. At first you were terrified -- how could he do such a thing? -- but soon found yourself at home in the universe of the small. There were so many places to take refuge in! Even the slightest crack became a hiding place, and you had no problems evading the garangtuan rats with quick clumsy feet or the ant who would feed you to his queen. Dreams in the pyramid are not like dreams on the outside; scholars may disagree but I have seen the difference with my own eyes. I never should have come; some things are beyond undoing.


"On 25 July, 2001, blood-red rain fell over the Kerala district of western India. And these rain bursts continued for the next two months. All along the coast it rained crimson, turning local people's clothes pink, burning leaves on trees and falling as scarlet sheets at some points.

"Investigations suggested the rain was red because winds had swept up dust from Arabia and dumped it on Kerala. But Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, after gathering samples left over from the rains, concluded this was nonsense. 'If you look at these particles under a microscope, you can see they are not dust, they have a clear biological appearance.'

"Louis determined that the rain was made up of bacteria-like material that had been swept to Earth from a passing comet. One analysis showed the particles were 50 per cent carbon, 45 per cent oxygen with traces of sodium and iron: consistent with biological material. Louis also discovered that, hours before the first red rain fell, there was a loud sonic boom that shook houses in Kerala. Only an incoming meteorite could have triggered such a blast, he claims. This had broken from a passing comet and shot towards the coast, shedding microbes as it travelled. These then mixed with clouds and fell with the rain.

"'It is too early to say what's in the phial,' he said, holding up the sample from a shelf in Sheffield University's microbiology laboratory. 'But it is certainly not dust.'

No DNA was found in the red rain.


Sweat on your neck, sweat on my face. Exhausted, we are finally one body and there is no way to untangle. What do we dream about? In the morning we will not remember the life we lived in the dark. I will forget how I imagined the strange city under your skin, and then shrank, and let myself in. Cells humming to secret rhythms, I discovered that your body is the music of so many vibrating strings, and dreams are the music of soul, and words are how we pin them down. Let the world do what they want with them: there is always a need for new signs to plant, new documents to start or end a war, new ideas about where the world ends. Outside the pyramid life is hard and if you wait too long the soil will patiently eat you alive. Inside we lie with each other in the dark, sleep to the sound of rain, and let the strings dream us into being: limbs wrapped and angeled toward the silent, invisible stars.


There is the Word


She is a little sex worker and she has arms that are thin like wires. She bobs her head when she walks. Once, she turned herself into a little monster and ate insects. She lives in the garden of a parish. She likes to run and hide behind rocks and throw sticks at the parish dogs.

In March, men in black and white suits climb out of long cars. The men have moustaches. The men are serious. The men wear rubber gloves and carry brief cases and write long notes in notebooks. “Little sex worker where is the priest?” One man asks. He stoops and tries to shake her hand but she spits at him. The other men laugh. Little sex worker, little sex worker, the men will write long notes in their notebooks.


The priest goes out and eats the apples in the trees in the front yard of the parish. But he eats too many apples and his stomach turns and he has to lie down. He starts to snore and he dreams about sex. He should not dream about sex. He should not dream about women who wear criss-cross nylons and slave boots. But he does not care about that.

She is a little sex worker and she starts to cry. The men decide not to bother the little sex worker. She looks like she is upset. The little sex worker thinks the priest should pay her money so that she can buy a new dress for her nineteenth birthday.

Little sex worker, the priest will not pay you any money. But he might let you into heaven if you sex yourself more often.


In June, she goes into the alley and bleeds and turns her belly into the snaked path woods of her ins and outs. She is a drug user. This is the church, he says. This is the congregation. Later, she looks at her belly and it is still round and she thinks that something has kicked and started to want to walk out of the snakes. But the little sex worker has just been released from jail and she does not know what to do. When she was in jail she was in a place called Roseys. In Roseys the women are sweet and only rape one another out of love. Now, the little sex worker looks at her stomach and begins to think that she has little snakes in her stomach and that it is only snakes that want to climb out of her.

The little sex worker goes into the alley and stabs herself in the stomach. But the turns and twists of the snakes do not go away and the priest stands with his hand on a statue of Mary. He shakes his head and mutters, “Silly child, in the beginning there was the word and the word was god.”


It is autumn quickly after and the little sex worker is in a white bed with white sheets and the walls are white and she thinks that the snakes in her stomach are dead. The priest stands next to her and holds a book and when he sees that she is awake he begins to read. He reads for a long time and she gets tired and falls asleep. When he is finally done he pats her on the head, “little sex worker,” He says.

The little sex worker is short and used. She has had needles in her arm that almost told her to kill herself. But she has also had needles in her arm that were not as angry and mad. Some needles have been nicer to her body. She is part and she is unsick and sick. It is possible that she could be rescued and saved and brought back through the basements of the steepled houses. The altered children will still play with her and learn that her body and their bodies are part of the back and forth and the in and out.


The little sex workers usually commit suicide before they are really unrecoverable. They stand and look at themselves in the mirror and they see their reflections and they begin to cry and think that they are dead. Those are holy days for the priest. He can bring them into heaven on those days.

The priest thinks that the sex workers live tragic lives. He feels sad that the sex workers must do so many terrible thinks. But he knows his church will bring the sex workers into the kingdom of heaven. When the sex worker is dead she cannot do terrible and sick things. Then she is ready to be clean and safe.

Little sex workers might string themselves up behind the parishes and die from the sins of the other boys and men who wear robes. But they are not Christ. And only the boys and the men with the shark stares can give her Christ.



Even the streets know my name. When trees bend in conspiracy with the wind; when the moon looks over my shoulder, and looks away: that is when I am at the center of things. Most days cars pass by without a honk. I ride the subway with thousands of people who would rather do anything than take me home. Those days I take the long way back, change trains and drift through Coney Island in fall; empty carousels, gray skies; I walk along the Atlantic and suddenly hear its message whispered in my skull: One day this will all be mine. It isn't angry. It does not blame.

When the laughing kids get quiet as I pass by, and the beautiful faces on the train flash a cruel smile before turning away: that is when I am in control. Take the payphone, for instance. I am escaping the gaze of a cat in the store window when it suddenly explodes to life: ringriiiingriiiing... I answer:

"What do you want?"


"Who is this?"


"Is anyone there?"

That's when I hear it:

"Say goodbye."


"Goodbye." And then there is silence, which lasts for a long second before the dial tone comes, crashing like a wave, and knocks me awawy

For six days and six nights I stay inside. Who could it be? What could it mean? Each evening the sky turns from blue to red. City lights shine a curtain that keeps thousands of stars hidden from view, like so many cameras blinking. What do they want to know? What could they possibly need to see -- now, after 2.4 million years of footage: of birth and fracture of bone; of skin into dust into air and back to skin, in the mouth and through the lungs, over and over again? In the dark the streets keep running from here to there. I can feel them --- they are looking for me, waiting to take me down the river to the place where yellow lines meet so the asymptote can finally collaspe, and God will show Himself to me, and the world He made in my image, and I will become like a camera, like a star.

I am too scared to see. On the seventh day I wake with tape round my ears and eyes and everything has suddenly changed: the birds are flying south again, nights are getting longer; people are born and die in a city that does not remember my name. It is Sunday: I take the train to Coney Island and watch the Atlantic Ocean move like it always does, rising a little more each day.



Child Nuns


The girl says she is in the bath. She says she is in her howled house. She is swatted and uncomfortable. We wade and beat her into the dirt. It is the chair: it has been in the office since after her second violent and inappropriate incident. The loose political candidates, once, were unfettered.

When she was in the bath, prior: “Ekk—ekk—ekk!”

He is not about to move the chair. He knows that it makes her tense and ill and easy. Earlier and again, she says she is in the bath and he thinks and shakes his head because she is ten. I have been unsickened, he thinks. In the futured lifed, they are only tempted, not drowned and decimated.

Once, she is eager and answers: “Ten.” She says. But now she squirms and looks uncomfortable. “I am not really ten,” She says. He draws circled wings in his notebook but does not look at her. I think she has looked to become a monster, he thinks. I cannot bear monsters, he thinks.

She is not rallied behind the dumpsters. She is sweated into caped heroine rescue shrieks and run into the blue bubbles of gym class. It is easier, often, to house the unkept and illusory and false lies of the truth life of her friend. Better than her own—than what she owns. She squirms and is uncomfortable.

“I am not really ten.” She says again. It is girl say, she is in the bath, it is she say. The chair is made of the kind of leather that sticks to her back and to her clothes and makes suction sounds when she leans forward. He decides to look from his circled wings to her. She has unwound herself. This is the third incident, he thinks and reaches for the file cabinet.


She is skinned and bleeded and attached to the walls of his office like the thin parts of the newspaper. With her chart, he walks across the room, shakes his head, scrawls. He cannot find her bones but her skin is here, and here.

My office is coated in her sick skin, he thinks. It must be the chair, he thinks.



The Disease

In the town there is a disease that makes ordinary people commit horrific acts of violence. At first, authorities believed we were witnessing the emergence of a new serial killer on the scene: a 16-year-old girl found bound and suffocated in an alley behind the corner store; the elderly women behind the counter of the jewelry store with her brains bashed out. The newspapers, compelled by journalistic integrity, needed us to know they meant it literally -- her brains really had spilled across the floor, looking very much like a sponge the dog got to. We were glad for the truth. In times like these it makes all the difference to know someone is brave enough to tell you how it is.

By the second week of February anyone with any sense could tell you something was wrong. After the litter of puppies, the suicide by lye, and the suicide by shotgun, three people were found slashed to death in the dumpster beside the park. They were an eight-year-old girl, her mother, and her father. The police were baffled. Newspapers predicted the poor man who first came across their heads tucked under a bench in a white plastic bag would never be the same. As usual, they were right: an off-duty officer witnessed him attempting to set fire to the orphanage not two days later, and ultimately shot him in the chest three times. COP SHOOTS CRAZED HEADHUNTER THREE TIMES, one headline read. We know what they meant.

In editorials journalists sought to make the proper connections: the man had killed the family himself, which was why he called the crime in -- to avoid suspicion. Most likely he had killed the 16-year-old and the old woman as well, and though the details varied between crimes -- murder weapon, age/gender of victim -- the pattern of brutality was the same. Or, as one editorial put it, CASE CLOSED.

By the first of March the killings totaled 37. The mild sense of relief that had taken over the streets a few weeks early had been replaced by palpable fear, like a humidity that left many town residents losing sl e ep as they sweated through their sheets. What was going on? We demanded to know. A town meeting was called and the humidity became a storm: "It is the immigrants!" one mother shouted over the pale-faced mayor, while the Mexicans in the back threw dead stares at her from their white eyes. One man told anyone who would listen about a strange light in the sky, and a low-flying plane he saw back in January. "They are experimenting on us!" he concluded. "They have sprayed us with chemicals recovered fro m the terrorists!" He began passing out gas masks into dozens of reaching hands. The mayor, who had soundly won the last three elections in what the papers called a landslide, implored us: "Please remain calm! Authorities are working round the clock--" No one knows who threw the bottle, but when the mayor went down with blood on his head it was like a switch went off. Several groups spontaneously broke off into fights as men wrestled and threw chairs while women either grabbed their children, or grabbed a chair. The mother who blamed the immigrants had clung piggy-back to a squat Mexican man, pulling his hair until he slammed her backwards into the wall. There were shouts and the sound of children crying when the riot squad let loose the tear gas and hoses on the crowd. The next morning no arrests were reported, though the papers all informed us that after the gas was gone there were 12 dead -- including one infant -- amongst the wet splinters and shards of glass that littered the floor.

After that time passed differently. Less and less people were willing to risk going to work. Public timepieces, like the digital signs at the bus stop or the old clocktower in town square, were increasingly inaccurate. Those who did go outside found the experience of empty streets unbearable; worse still when they spotted someone else hurrying down the block in the distance. Were they a friend, or had they too gone mad? Most residents left the house only for food and news; in fact the papers were the only business that managed to keep its staff from abandoning their duties. It was simply a case of ordinary men and women becoming heroes, not because they sought glory, but because their professional integrity compelled them to serve a public who needed them desperately. They did not fail us: with the collapse of the local government, we had only the papers to let us know that the death count was estimated at 90, 160, 300...

Locked in our houses, with the windows taped and locked as per the journalists' advice, and the shades drawn and the bookshelves and other furniture piled high behind all the front doors and back, we daily committed our only act of bravery: to slip out, to scavenge amongst the torn-up grocery stores and supermarket, grab a paper and fly back t o safety. It is difficult to imagine this kind of living. Perhaps if we were born in another place, with less privileges, we might be able to make comparisons to life during wartime, or famine, or after a catastrophe. Perhaps if we were not from a nation of such luxury, such comfort, we would not need to be so brave. As Americans we needed to be brave. We needed to keep hope alive. Locked in our houses, alone or with our loved ones, we talked quietly of things to come: when Washington would he lp us, when the troops might arrive, what we loved best about our past lives. Slowly time carried us from one day to the next, and the papers kept piling up, and the nights grew longer. Soon winter would be here, but we did our best to put it out of min ds. The newspapers assured us help was on the way as the death toll kept increasing -- probably those who, once outside, were not so lucky as us. In a way, patterns made life bearable; until the day the papers informed us their medical experts had disco vered the truth: that what had taken our town was a disease that makes ordinary people commit horrific acts of violence. Editorials rushed to sketch the implications: NO ONE was safe; not with your family, your friends, your wife, your husband, your children. If they contracted the disease -- experts were still working to understand how it was spread -- it would be your brains smashed on the floor; and one thing the experts were sure of was: there would be no warning.

"For the sake of your children," they implored, "for the sake of your loved ones, we are compelled to ask that you: 1) SEPARATE; 2) ISOLATE; 3) PRAY that we will all be delivered from this nightmare soon. Remember to always stay indoors except when absolutely necessary. We are committed to bringing you up-to-date information as it becomes available, to keep you and yours safe. Please stand by."


Uncut my Massacred

They scream at dawn. The children who are small and quiet wait to be murdered. They stand at the entrance to her room and are uneasy. They shake back and forth and begin to vomit and urinate on the floor. She sees blood in their urine and the children that are the youngest are whimpering.

The uncut are like clay and they stand behind the house in rows. It is like they chant but they do not move. She rises and wades across the marble floor. She looks at her sight in the mirror. She can see through her skin. The outsides are violent and uncouthed. The wakefulness nest. We are diseased and soiled, she thinks and she will not see her skin.

The uncut look like they are piles of clay. Some crude hand has given them shoulders and square block torsos. The same hand rolls balls of earth into eyes. The eyes do not look. In the afternoons, the screams will exhaust. The back forth cuts of machetes will stall.

Her eyes look hollowed and it is as though the eyes are ghosts. The saints are elders and are unclothed and despaired by an always weakened foe. The saints look like rugs draped on skeleton lamps. The saints stand close to the uncut and it is difficult to tell them apart. The screams should have lessened by now.

It is our house, she thinks and the children have wrapped themselves into the shapes of small jungle animals and sunk into the marble cracks in the main hall. The uncut no-eyed claymen will still burn the house into the earth. They are rocks. They are plaster men. They are glued and torn into the plantations of the colonial idols. And these are severed coasts: they are only here because they are mad and we are cut.

The elder saints weep at midday. The molded foe, uncut and barren, still lifes: it is not the evil that will counter god.



What The Living Do

The dead don’t read prose, or the newspaper. They don’t imagine, won’t eat an orange; they can’t feel its weight in their hands. The dead don’t dream, not even of other dead people, or the animals they used to know when they were younger. No use waiting: they won’t rise up and take arms against the oppressors, or drop by the party, or kiss you goodnight.

The dead do congregate: they meet each other under the earth, or in the air; or hidden in the r oots and leaves. Do the dead have secrets? Nobody knows – if they do, they’re not talking.

When the dead meet each other, it is not as exciting as you think. It is a non-event. More dead people than you can imagine are meeting each other right now, at this very instant. Is the earth shaking? No, it’s not shaking. Are those moans and wails outside the window? No, it’s the wind. There is nothing more boring than watching the dead mingle. Even you have been bored by it: sitting on the subway; going for a jog. I have seen you. Being watched by the dead is not better; especially during lovemaking it is boring and not at all like being watched by ghosts, which are not dead after all but still very much who they were and therefore far more thrilling and sexy to be spied on by. It drives the ghosts crazy, all that contact. It haunts them. They imagine how it feels, but all they can do is touch you second-hand: through a medium; by changing the temperature; by teasing you with the lights.

The dead don’t play or change and nothing sexy excites them ever. When they touch you they don’t realize it. I mean you: they are touching you right now. Do you feel them? On any given day in New York City you can be certain of a few things: someone is born, someone dies, and the rest of us are getting there. The new-dead are not different from the old-dead, or the very old-dead, or the ancient ones we cannot comprehend. Without bodies they are not like you or me. Take Paul, for instance. You keep asking me, "What do you think he’s doing right now?" I am sorry: I don’t think the dead do much.

Paul is nothing like we can imagine now, though we can try: so picture waking up to find that the world is suddenly covered in snow. Picture how it would bury the fire hydrants, and the crosswalks, and the paper stands and the cracks in the pavement and the gum inside the cracks. Imagine snow so high even the tallest building is lost under those enormous drifts of clean, soft snow. Now imagine it lasts a lifetime. When you are old, will you remember a world beneath the world, the one where every detail sought your eye to remind you that a leaf was not a rock was not a stop sign? Or would you realize you had gradually forgotten the difference between mountain and skyscraper; this thing and that; even me and you?

I know what you mean: it is June and the sky is a vast heavenless country over our heads, and the world is so full of color and crossable space you just want to scream you can’t hold it close enough. But if you ask me again, I will tell you: where Paul is, it is snowing like you can’t imagine. Keep trying.



On the Platform

Millions and millions of miles above me, through the earth and metal and stone; up past the empty space of sky and hard hot bodies of stars; the black holes rest like pools in the fabric of the universe. I am not talking metaphor – this is not about love in the dark. I am talking about the places in the larger world so hungry even light cannot escape. Here, under the ground, I am waiting for a sign: for the shadows to stretch and vanish so that I might know -- the train is coming. But if we are out walking one day, and the sun is shining, and the air is so soft you could just swim down the street—how will we know if a black hole is forming right around the corner, over our heads, or beneath our feet? Since light cannot escape there is no visible warning, no sound like thunder in the distance. I may be waiting for a train, and BAM I am sucked in. What will happen to my life then?

Standing at the edge of the subway platform it occurs to me that nothing can fill up the black hole. No women, no love, no religious or personal deity.

Some believe a black hole is the astronomer’s rainbow – we get the treasure if only we get to the other side. In movies this happens all the time, but so does redemption and comic timing, and here, below the earth, we know those things are hard to predict. I do not know when the train is coming. Right now the tunnel is dark save for the pinpoints of lanterns like stars burning in the distance. Perhaps the black hole leads nowhere. Still, I keep telling myself: if I live well, if I eat right, if I find love…. maybe then I will pass through to a new part of the world; or wake up in a different time, in a new body. Will I? The platform is crowded with faces like mine: hungry faces, tired faces: scared animals in a cave. See the shadow? Is it growing, or shrinking? Is that a train coming to take us, or a black hole, hungry and waiting? There is only one thing I am sure of: What comes around the tracks will take a lifetime to arrive.

Better be ready.