The thing about the non-breathers is they don’t breathe.

Nobody I knew said they ever saw a non-breather breathe,


Except once, and that was a one and only.

I’m on my haunches outside The Red Rock, sweating and smoking; here comes


One, a guy, a real Mr. Spock,

Dressed in standard issue beige bathrobes and sandals


And the headband medallion over his forehead.

“Hey, non-breather!” I say, feeling the meanness


In me like steam out of a sewer. “Why don’t you

have a drink?”


And Mr. Spock says to me, “To breathe

Is to decay…” and he doesn’t speak this, but says it


Through his thought-grille on his forehead, “…to breathe

Is to decay. And to eat and drink is to ingest one’s death.”


And he pauses to look at me,

And then he walks on, that funny walk, like he doesn’t have any


Underwear and his balls are swinging free.




Squirrel bacon and acorn coffee over early morning fire—morning sun,

cast-iron horses; seventeen-year-old face fastened the lure—extinct East Belt Line—

fuzzy yellow fly—dead noon medicine man pulled the buffalo skin, stooped through;

once inside, he was amazed; tattered coats,  ties,  ghosts ,West 59th by the ruins

of the Plaza, the canvas of the teepee brightly illuminated, a dance of shadows,

tattered hems, small fire, the voluptuous girl leaning awake, trees of the park, alien.

The girl lay on a canvas cot, green wool blanket thrown over her feet, the ruined buildings,

conical minarets ,“Fantastic Four” comic book, holding it over her face like a roof; the pavement .

“Sit if you like,” the teepee girl said, a burned photograph, the ghost

stepping off the recently electrified cable car of the 59th street cross-town,

a small tuft of yellowing grass, a small Persian carpet. The ghost trudged across the trolley

tracks, sky suspended before the renewal of radio—the silence ludicrous—

smacking upon an ancient piece of licorice—the brittle crackle,

turning a comic book page.   A small circle of stones—a promise of ice

in every breath of wind. In the center of the stones was a mound of ashes—

crumblings, burnt negative, the medicine man smiling,

the cable cars, a child, the twin of the girl, a design peculiar to tribe and ritual,

the windshield of a ruined, abandoned cab reflecting the one true world.




Stream.  Amniotic day,

I’ve gotten away

From everyone.


Sandwich, bottle of water,

I won’t go home for hours.


“Pretend you are

Perfect as Jesus!”

Is this the day

I must revise myself?


I spend fascinated hours

Staring at crayfish

Scuttling the bottom,


The potato-sized rocks,

Sunlight mix, dazzling potion.


“You must be born!” streams say.


If you went away

From me,

I’d be stunned,


Yellowed newsprint

Announcing the birthday

Of our favorite nun.


We must be lost.


A million years

To find you—

I rejoice

In anything you do–

To make me

Touch you.


Dedicated to the Cell Phone Girl in Comp 1


Like, I was walking down the street, and like

All the sudden, like, I said, Oh My God!

Like I have this vagina! And I like all of

The sudden I’m like having this baby

And I’m like Oh My God! I’m like having

A baby like right here on the street

And so I like say to my girlfriend

Like can I have a drink of your diet Pepsi

Cause I’m like really thirsty from like

Having that baby and she’s like NO

WAY and I’m like YES WAY bitch!

And like all the sudden the baby like

Starts spinning on this silver plate and like

It’s all bloody and disgusting and I feel

Like I’m going to puke right there

And then this cop comes along and like

Starts saying like you are going to jail

Because of this like baby on a plate

And he’s calling my mom and

I’m like crying and saying like please

Don’t call my mom and my mom is like

totally ballistic but like what the fuck

I’d like do it all again anyway


The Philosopher Savant Has One of Those Dreams


I was camping in only a sleeping bag

When I woke to some wild pigs snuffling

In the pine straws. It was just

Dawn, and the skies hadn’t quite

Finished their weeping when

A lioness, a puma, skulked into the camp

With a lust for pig’s

Blood on her tongue

And a glassy glint in her eyes

Like someone I had once known, a mother-in-law

Or midwife, in Bethlehem

The night the soldiers stuck

The firstborn through on pikes.

The pigs suddenly found power

To skip through the branches

Like squirrels or pine martens,

And the lionesses (now there were five)

Gave chase, snarling

And snapping at pig flanks

But never quite sinking tooth

Into the sweet flesh.

Realizing I was an easier

Breakfast for puma, I fumbled

For the bicycle I had been sleeping on

All night, and erected a getaway,

Still tented by my sleeping bag,

Down the gravel drive and eventually

To the pavement that ribboned

Through the misty hills

To the lodge where you were working,

It seemed, as a hostess, a clerk

Keeping the keys of rooms adorned

With a magic eye above each door.

You had always been beautiful to me,

And I was so happy to see you

And to wrap the arm I had injured somehow,

And which hurt so badly,

Around you. I asked, “Is there anything

I can get you?” And you said,

“Can you make me some macaroni and cheese?”

For you, sweetie, I said, “Of course I can,” and so

Was led by a gaseous singing to a stove

Where I boiled the water,

Cooked the pasta, and when I had

All but finished preparing what you wanted,

You said, “Wait!” and then made me

Stir in a bag full of plastic snowman

Cupcake ornaments. This made me worry

About you, and it made me cry for a half hour,

And I wanted so desperately

To write you that moment. Let it suffice

To say that later that night I dreamed

You had agreed to marry me, and preparations

Were being made at the lodge

For the wedding: silver streamers

And paper bells and long rows of tables

Sprinkled with confetti. You let me see you

Undressed, your hair still wet from a shower.

I can’t understand why I protested,

Your skin warm to my touch, but I said,

“It’s unfair. You are so attractive.

The power of attraction is all that exists.

I have no chance.”

And you stood there, slender and beautiful,

And slowly shook your head,

And I had no power to move.


The Philosopher Savant Has Another One of Those Dreams


Slip this slender girl lengthwise into a deck of cards

And she will tell your future avec de sincères amities (i.e. kind regards):

Mssr. a une affaire

avec une ballerine canadienne imaginaire.


Business, strictly speaking. A few snags at Customs:

And boy were they f***ers this time. Jerks. Picking on me

about my secret plans to stay

forever in Seattle. Hate those guys. Sorry.


Her nose runs, she snags a tissue.

Misbehaving in the here and now;

with this imaginary, is it even an issue?


She says, “I’m feeling like quite the hagfish today.

Hagfish are disgusting.

I read about them (and saw a few) at the aquarium.

You don’t even want to know what they do per diem.”


Slip this slender one into your drink.

Stir. What do you think? What do you think?




Our ancestors took off for the prairies

Where they would only see themselves.

Fair enough.


When I am sure they are good and starved,

I feed the sparrows. When their mischief

Is expended under the eaves, the squirrels get grain.


I trim the trees when they reach out too far.

If I get a pile of anything to burn, I am happy.

So intense, the sun’s rays.   I hear the train’s whistle;


A passage of wheels over the graves.

Leave a penny on the rails.   A silver dollar

Can be smeared into a finger’s length of blade.


The ice cream is plain vanilla, cold as winter,

At the end of July.   This town has no river

Or means of communication but the light shed

To the evening sky.




Cold rain in September.

He would take his chances. Wait.

Inside his ’48 Chevy, Rock


stares at the tarmac,

the flashing lights,

the security cars,


the mute door of the jet.

Takes an hour of downpour

for the President to emerge


from Air Force One.

Finally, the rain abates.

Stairs are rolled to the plane.


Johnson is tall as he waves,

strolls down to the dais.

He speaks a few moments.


Rock has blended

with the crowd

before the platform,


the podium with the president’s seal,

the microphones

sheathed in sponge rubber.


The flashbulbs:

nearly silent gunfire.

He scrutinizes


the President’s face.

“Somewhere, bathed by the rains,

the South China Sea…”


Soon Johnson’s

on his plane.

It taxis down the runway,


aims its nose, surges

down the strip and up into the clouds.

The crowd filters away.