the tower (the beggar)

The void became the beggar’s bowl 
I’m holding for a body left bloody 
on the parapet while I’m left howling: 

“Fool!”

For who’s the fool but I left ascribing 
blame on behalf of those and God 
became as absent as the salve I have 
to soothe my aching heart; when 

loneliness proclaims the evitable 
demand of having bet a losing hand 
against the house that always wins. 

“I forget you are a mother,” he says 
under guise of light come in through 
the window; his ribs cracked from the

sound he made hitting the ground 
the night you walked him through 
a door over the ice when he’d just said

“I’m going to fuck your mother,” 
to an eight year old boy I tucked
away like an impolite remark in order 
to depart again in a waiting cab.

While you, I fold like a sheet into a 
pile small enough to carry in the night 
and  reassure against half-hearted 
protest it costs me nothing here to 

underwrite the pounding pavement, 
when what lures you forth is worth 
less than nothing even to yourself; 

the constant inconsistency with
which pursued, desire languishes in the 
space you leave between your empty eye 
and an absent heart; you sit raging in the
 
silence shaking torment from the windows
as from rugs you’ve beat so thin you’ve 
spoilt with attention what might otherwise 
consume the footfall of a tired fight. 

And who is more tired, he–or I? the one 
who seeks a dove to burst out from out 
my ready palm which cannot do without a 
bird in hand yet claims to love to fly. 

I make so many mistakes here, positioning 
the splint that I might as well have broken 
bones myself in this attempt to heal them; 

apologize to emptied rooms with words you
will not deign to listen to when broken glass 
lends nothing to your certainty of what 

intention was but that the edge we hemmed 
out from your coat was just as well the way 
not me, your mother made it.

The fact that you alone seem to be alive 
makes it quiet in the tower on the days
the traveller’s gone.

the tower (the news)

Some days no one else lives in 
the tower, while on yet other 
days it’s brimming over with
parading cavalcades of visitors; 

inhabitants who would rather 
knock the walls searching for 
news than hear melodic and 
refrain the remnant of what’s

gone; it confuses them and her– 
they know she likes to tell them 
stories– and some may wonder 
whether she ascribes the dead 
a passion better lent the living, 

conflating objects of desire with 
the gift of giving grief its second 
chance to spare her no quarter; 
rather pin me to the ground but 

while you’re gone I hear such
resounding elegies of footsteps
down the hall and voices could 
be anyone in another room when

down the way outside early in 
the morning other lives will pass
us as if our motion made alive
the reason we decide to call one 

person our whole body, when 
clearly there is more than me 
inside. 

the tower (ashes)

I am waking up again to the sound 
of silences remaining in the stead 
of your arriving to abate me what 
is left now you are gone– I could 

weigh the presences I’m mourning 
and place against the flesh that is 
protesting at the length of days a 
talisman accounting for the pain; 

for shame am I thus leaning on the 
door I find here shut against my 
longing for the echo down the hall 
of a happy, hounding countenance;

like dogs I count my dreams five 
cents apiece to carry to the store
and trade for candy stale enough
to warrant all it takes to bite. 

Am I to be the living while beheld 
by eyes I can only here imagine–? 
in the days since we’ve left burning 
at the foot of all the stones my dawn 

must rest upon as if the rushes 
in the water greet the red-winged 
blackbird but cannot despite your 
welcome weave unto a fibre I 

here lay before the sun– to draw 
out in its supplication brick does 
not abide but without can become 
strong enough to bear the weight 

I grant to what I know has 
happened, here– if what desired 
demands from life the sanctity 
of sparing us from loss, what 

now the lesser being who finds 
his body undesired thus, but 
still their lot? 

Instill the pain of loneliness 
with the value of what’s lost, 
but ask yourself to question 
pain from holding all you’ve not.

the tower (falls)

The top has been struck by lightning twice; 
it is on fire with flame and the sound 
of their scream reaching out to touch her

I feel the sense of urgency growing 
like a knot in the ground
at the baby’s howling:

there’s a feeling you’re supposed 
to have when you know
you’re being wrong;

when you know there’s 
something to be done.

“I am a mother,” the woman speaks 
as plainly as the look upon her face.

“I am a mother,” she repeats as she
watches him fall in relief against 
a silent backdrop of trees.

The flag became white linen
wrapped around his limbs
now loose, as they become
what’s wrapping round the air;

children are to be saved at 
any cost for later use as a 
means of survival.

“I am not holding him now,”
she thinks, wondering at
the weight she still feels 
in arms draped like curled 
ribbons down her side:

this strength gave out what
love could not, like a stick 
left poking dirt too loose 
to take the shape of letters.

This is not the way to teach 
a child how to read nor 
explain ourselves as better 
than we really are.

These are all thoughts that 
pass between us and ourselves; 
between the haze of drifting 
smoke and an infant’s lot in life.

What is hers can never hold 
her interest long when nothing 
that is pure and good of heart 
can speak to god.