it starts with

a surge,


the intersect of

neck, solar plexus,


words — — then,

the dark descent


down, down into

the cave drawings


of who am i?





built for

slow idolatry


and waiting:

which is its


own electricity—




after all is


said and done;

after all the


battles fought—

few won;


what am i here for?






jupiter blues

i’m taking the back roads again, caught
in the dark folds of the map; on foot,

turning down that alley i know
is bad news—walking straight in-

to the waiting chase i always
barely escape—like careful

gravity pulling me down in-
to the deepest cavities:

black eyes and hands
like a cave-cage. i break out

and run toward your voice,
the most intimate gift

you can give from way
over there. i would take

the 310 train, but i have no
idea where that is and i’m

nowhere near miami.
you used to love watching

mom get ready, dabbing things
onto her face and neck in

the oblong mirror: the dis-
tortion familiar and needed.

you died in your sleep in
the early morning rain.

at some point before-hand,
you left that voicemail:

you should see the write-
up about her;

she’s making the big
bucks now.

your belief in me
was my life blood.

it still comes through in
dreams: echo shadows of

things that once were; a temporal
cure for things i may never know.

we are all connected (or, the softer side of obsession)

for tjr: today and every day

it happened while i wasn’t looking;
it happened while i was in pretty deep—

trying to climb up and out from that steep
dark that meets me even in my sleep.

but this time, you. you were there, too,
saying, yeah, i feel it; it’s true

but, it will pass. hold on, like the last time;
hold on, and it will lose its power,

and you will

it means every thing to have another
being there to say – i’m here

and not
much else.

it means every thing to have
a hand reaching out, an ear opening,

a heart-mind waiting to
wrap itself around you.

even across the creeping
light-years, miles, blues, trials:

we        are        all        connected
and that has made all the difference.


Painting of Tommy Joe Ratliff by Olivia Santiago

these words are alive

every thing is light
with dark ness

a liquid gallop,
a brightening of bees,
a lullaby brushing through hair,
a slow-motion shape shifting of bottles in trees.

know your own
loch ness—
its flywheel,
its dread loop;

let it take you down on
your knees into the black-
est blue,
let it turn you,

just for a time,
just for a trip:
to traverse those
shadow field cliffs.

keep feeding it,
that deep flip in the chest,
that steep heart dip between
the legs.

—then— wrest your
self free from
its enchantment, its
encaustic grip.

drop that shit
and run
for the hills,
run for your life.

a few more meters

i have this dream

in which i kill every thing in the house:

the plants, the pets, the shadows.


i remain alive because i am outside the house,


outside myself, dictating death

to the weak and softening. i have been here before,

waxed inside this block of malice, shaking.


if every action starts with a thought, a seed –

i am growing a fucking garden.


i talk to myself in the early morning hours,

walk myself through the rituals:

washing, brushing, brewing, feeding.


eating has become so tiresome. if i could

just take one tiny pill and be done with it.


they say toward the end of a long run you get a sort of second wind,

a rushing of air, energy, purpose into your lungs, body, mind.


i’ve been running for a long time now; i’m starting to disbelieve in

second anything. maybe it’s like getting lost: if you had just gone


a few more meters you would have seen the sign.

the heart of sky (or, the other valentine)

the hearth, the heat, the

sweep of sleet

across the face.


did you know you could

keep this pace?


love this



in time with the bondage

of the eye:


the true measure

of the body —-


and the deep

cry of the beyond.


spread it all out;

write it all down;


drag it across your life-joist;

then burn it.


but first,

drain the



the archive will



the red, the breath,

the breadth,


the heart of sky.

what you will

in the dire



in the myopic





in the nebulous



in the diurnal







electrical umbilical cords,

pacts to mother-love our evolving selves,

trapeze webs of arms and legs and hearts and heads,

surprised star-bursts in your steps across the wide wet acres:


where the painterly absurdity absorbs all of the colors but you.