The Circle

She runs in circles.
Circles run in her.
A circle was cut on her cheek
At birth
And hidden beneath
A thing that looked like skin.
It was only discovered
After the men performed
Surgery without her consent
While she watched the
The metal instruments that sat
On the medical tray
Move towards her,
Like magnets.
Marked she was.
Destined to run in circles.
To draw in unwanted things.
The circles were her destiny.
A destiny that was not hers.
It was the circle’s.
So, one day she cut the circle out,
Waited until it healed, then
Took a needle and India ink,
And tattooed a spiral where
The circle had been.
Now she runs in spirals.
And spirals run in her.
She goes down, down, down
Into the rabbit hole to find
The truth
About the circle.

The Words

The building’s silver siding reflected trees
And brick row houses
On the opposite side of the street
While the light wept onto the floor
Inside the gymnasium of painted cinder blocks.
Where the beggars had unrolled their mats
And stood in rows with their heads bent.
Waiting.

A moment passed before they joined palms
And began to mutter the ancient words of
Peace and harmony,
Words meant for every race and class,
Sex and religion, dog, trout and fly.
This was a plea for a utopia that
Had once been tasted in a secret garden
Outside of time.

But the words were woven during an era
Of myth and magic, before steel and science,
And the meaning had changed,
Power weakened by the inevitability
of war and famine, plague and greed.
All this while the planet watched,
Turning in her orbit, contracting her forests
Expanding her waters.

Yet the words continued to flow,
Good and kind,
Like rivers that bend and twist
Through upstate hills and mountains
Crying streams of fresh, gold water,
Over pebbles with schools of small fish
that swim too quickly to catch.
Anonymous yet named.

After the words were spoken,
The beggars touched their hands to the floor,
The sound fleshy and warm,
And moved together in a prescribed pattern.
Hope distilled in song
Descended from an ancient time,
That still in our darkest nightmares,
Breathes.

The Sleepies

I.
At night when the city has quieted
and the ground has become heavy,
I see pinpricks of red tail lights
And neon signs shouting “Diamonds”!
Wolfish snarls form tangles that spill into
Gutters and slosh onto painted curbs.
Street lights twinge with static.
I hear an engine rev,
A sound so loud it peels my eyes open,
And pierces my eardrums with its claws.
Rubber, steel and teeth,
Whip by in a cloak of white shadow.
The echo fades into the canyons.
It is silent again.
I’m left with the cool, dry, desert air
And the weighted moon in the sky.

II.
In these hours, the sharp point of night,
My eyes are heavy, worried and worn,
My skin beaten, veins swollen.
The need for sleep is strong and persistent,
In spite of the bodega-bright lights,
Shining like a big box store.
I watch the story flicker across the screens,
While I sip coffee that has no taste.
Although my brain isn’t firing right,
I can still remember
What the pot roast tasted like the night before,
And the salmon that was grilled at midnight
Near a stack of rubber tires in a parking lot
Dressed with card tables and paper cloths.
The sleepies are frolicking,
In the deepest recesses of my mind.

III.
Surely, it is almost dawn.
I fight my eyes, but the need to shut them wins,
And I am dreaming of another time,
That occurred when I was younger.
Before I knew my story had already been decided.
I run through a neon meadow
Beneath stars like spilled paint.
My friends are ghosts, hooded, displaced.
My pupils are silver dollars, paining me in the feeble light.
But the world is mine.
The future is a stage with red curtains
That will be told in many acts.
Foolish girl.
I am the design of a certain making.
I hear the wolf and the engine.
And I open my eyes, for the night is not yet over.