An Autobiography In Six Movements


Before the I that is I was the I that was,
in prototypical amneosis, on transfer paper,
words chiselled to bend straight the I
or bend crooked the I
or it’s more complicated than that;
phrases that begged only to scream
and it will appear, lemon in their infancy,
a first suckling sentence;
in the I that was not was that I that is,
also, ahead of all and behind it,
frost settling itself paragraphs,
fog clearing but traces itself chapters,
whose well-worn pages are the I that was
and the I that is and the I that will be
doomed to repeat it.

Movement 1

These are fingers and these are toes
and these are the planes on which they go,
a mobile object lesson: get as far as you can;
these are numbers and these are letters
and together they can you can if you want to;
eventually pick one or the other
or the other if you pick the other
or the powers of two if you pick the one;
every other finger
every other toe
goes home.

Movement 2

For seven uneven years I saw the chip where it had bounced
and skidded into the corner; every time my toe slid into the groove
I’d recall the few inches I dared not cover,
sometimes cursing sometimes blessing sometimes
absent-mindedly doing the bare-metal calculations;
there still my concrete Jesus is the absence
of something, though those who walk on him now
do not stuff their prayers into the gap;
someone else owns it now: perhaps they
feel that fulcrum, now, where I was made whole.

Movement 3

Round the pole, round and round the pole
I swung under trellis and grape vines
until wine sprayed from between my toes;
a broken bottle in the grass:
oh who has done this wonderful thing!
the white coated soldier coolly took
a spear to my flesh;
I was dead to the world for three hours
till I woke again, and in the black art of it
I still don’t recognize myself.


The tangent is determined by measurement;
the instrument, however, is imprecise.
If the system is large enough, we can predict outcomes.
We are too small to notice, then,
and call it freedom.

Movement 4

First of many wounds or wound of many firsts
I am still not sure; shoeless in the orchard
you turned into a pillar: looking back
I call you Carthage or high blood pressure.
The law broke as I touched you,
inscrutable tablets crumbling on my lips:
Thou shalt not, but I did and the glory departed,
a crane tumbling headless to the ground.

Movement 5

Bless the Lord O my body & soul
and forget not all his benefits:
there will be no fillings in the new Jerusalem,
and no Powerpoint presentations;
there will be no budget requirements,
and no boards of review;
there will be no timeclocks
and no shiftwork;
there we be no acronyms
and no acrimony;
but O dear heaven
let there be dogs!

Movement 6

There and back again and there and back again
and there and back again again;
feet of clay mixed with iron and you have
worn them clean to the knuckle;
how many ridiculous hoops on fire before
I’d burn the whole thing down just to show you
who’s boss is whose boss?
Shifts in perspective and I felt each acutely
in the peppermint vomit over the side
of my porcelain Picasso,
in the frenzied stuttered hammering to keep
the charred timbers and holy sheet afloat;
the idol falls, the axe is laid at the root,
and I am stumping for a new vessel.


Before the we we are we were the we we were,
in starlit amneosis, encased in carbon;
now, when you are to me like oxygen to fire
to a city made of matchsticks
to a world of crumpled newspaper,
I can only admit to the movement that
brought me to this place;
soon enough, my love, soon enough,
but not soon enough.