i asked for prompts from friends on facebook (thank you) they are the italics rest is the poem picture of a temple on a jungle hill, jeremy looking up through jungle brush a temple is painted on a rock that pierces bright clouds i carried my orange banner many miles to ascend the hill and place my flag among the works of the great romantics: blake, nabokov, plath standing at the foot of god’s pagoda it feels it may vanish if i take even one step closer a mirage a photograph a dream letter to the weather on a hot day, stephanie you give a soggy grey glow and i sit in the greenhouse you had me sticky in bed this morning, my feet eager for the cold shower water finally drenching a reluctant spine you sucked my will to achieve but neither could i mourn sunk in the hazy doldrums of your wet heat talking to a stranger outside a restaurant, jenny i was going to trudge back into drizzly swelter (the host said “one hour”) when I saw you. something about the angle of your phone said “available” you came from the same state as me our brothers competed in soccer “seven people died climbing everest this year” you mention. i look down, holding an orange flag i see the detail of the fabric, not orange at all but thin red stitches over golden yellow silk. the table is ready feeling of leaving a place you’ll never come back to, tammy wet eyes scan the horizon a smile on my lips life isn’t long enough to rebuild your wonders or short enough for me to stay here forever so i fall to my knees gathering two tight clenched fistfuls of your dusty soil letting wind catch the particles slips from grasp recover or reconstruct familiarity, elizabeth a peppery flavor to the splash of crimson in your gold nasturtium feels familiar. given even the purest water that bouquet will wither. just down the path there is an emerald hillside where spicy flowers grow. these are new flowers with the same name. growing up, mo remember when we were kids living on the north side? things were complicated back then but now things are simple but now we’re told they have to be. i used to wander in the hills of Oakland listening to deltron on a panasonic portable CD player two double A batteries lost somewhere in the electrocrackle of a hot vintage porn swarming with dream life spirits and hallucinations. trees don’t get me as high any more but i’ll still go half on sack with you, dusting off my purple motive. do we have to settle down? i want us to settle up. to put the same orange flowers on that one ikea table every day to make it new. shopping at Costco, vikram is this being grown up? when i push the cart aisle to aisle drive it like it's stolen because we’re gonna expense this: brownie bites coconut oil, olive oil, twenty dozen eggs, spices, cereals, earplugs, jam. there’s a proud snap-worthy moment when we pull up to the register, cart filled past capacity the man at the door signs off on our load and we start wheeling it towards the landfill a couple of ants. a golden retriever named Theo, summer bleached targaryen mane you were the star at graduation the falcor in my neverending insta story what made me happy were your pouty eyes your triumphant shlump back into the dog bed home from a walk for those three days before my date you were the perfect digital wingman if i walked you, you’d be grateful but if not it would be chill too ***
wibbled we plump meanders neathwords sweet squeeze one night orbed we oleander skin grip wet spot stucky touch we skirfed out nerth words zung zunging no fooded, needs eat living behind quince cottage anta sum grimmudge loose alley bad slumping dust brick all car theft risky mistreat solked homes out back half sunk haunt mansion hewmed we hot sweat sticky bug day night swat skeeters strubbling out to see sky flames star snuffs big dipper we can’t find orion cause stars don’t align for us they do depending how you define: line drawn tea house from bad korean two brainhearts sqweetched among wobb hovel viving or loving sky spike upta ood fern filled farmyard here, to snive all along the llamas out buskirk sweet biggy boot trot we swat cute bumple bee bum danger squat, press to get to that bed clutch hell tight sweet gribbin a future gelling did the flood came then washing away tissue tissue tissue tissue in snibbly nose dab holding tight what’s letting go your proposal let’s wake up as ... we woke up surrounded by chirruping chickens squak jawed peacock the inflatable turkey’s rhythmic plompf levee eyes parting the muddy scuttle of gradient guinea hens we wake up smiling on the speckless white floor rug of your fidi apartment there’s a backpack and a lego man door closes elevator opens
in the middle of the night sunday i wake up and turn in bed to hold you only it’s just a pillow and i am alone that morning my heart throbbing a kissy face emoji goes out our first red heart it is the conversation we can’t get enough of sweet eye meets gizzard grins the touch that morning my heart sent a kissy face emoji blew our first red heart monday morning no work on my mind and instead i write you a purple poem slide it in a bottle and push it down the river Styx for you to gather on at the battery docks on Manna-hata’s tip you uncork that sunset’s sour vintage where the taste is not what the wine is not what the sweet translucent flesh of grapes had dripped - stickying our fingers at day’s demise for one day you did not reply in bed i hear the whine of the mosquito i know it will be a long night still you have not replied my phone buzzes an associate, a friend she bit me on the shoulder she bit me on the face that morning i wake up late from a bunk bed dream where the bay waters had risen and you can’t see the city from Oakland anymore the mosquito is trapped: buzzing around in a cup with a cloth over it beside my bed and a butt full of my blood i take her outside on the fire escape lift the cloth and watch her erratic flight among brick and iron ... later, you reply it seems callous to me three heart emojis none of them red and a chesnut but as my tears clear I see the fire peach and navy the purple and the olive pit
we enjoy a purple embrace sun falls into hoboken exploding silently slow oranges rippling against the hudson an endless breathing dance of fire peach and navy fills our head kiss summer eyes. the olive pit you toss in the water is the sand pattern slipping through your fingers. it sinks to the seafloor one dark seed under the hudson joins ten million other human sins. hellish fractal infinities once danced on your palm in these specks of sea-dust blown from a distant star. I will take you to the purple planet whose ocean island laps at the banks of your dream beach where every grain of sand was born between your hourglass fingers and lychees dangle from the low grove.
“You want to eat you go to Chicken Cottage”
The man outside barks. It’s cash only, and an attempt is made to beg Brits for a couple pounds.
Luckily there's another, quieter Chicken Cottage, with nobody in it, and this one accepts cards. The fries taste like old grease. The nuggets are the nuggest - held delicately between thumb and fore.
“Let’s find somewhere we can sit outside and eat this.”
The park entrance is at the dead end of a lane in South London.
Tip the water bottle for a swig, pinky stuck in the air.
“We’re in London.”
“Can I put my arm around you?”
The flat smells like moth balls. The second thing is the furniture - tasteful and warm. A large window covered by thick venetian slats. Beside it, the olive green chair: a curved danish number, elegant in its size, and with four polished wooden legs in a splay. It is overhung by a two-orb cantilever lamp in rosy metallic.
The ceiling fixture is an open ended cylinder: aurburn in extérieur, reflective copper within. A single Edison bulb within emits a scientific orange glow.
Four eyes examine the dresser - rich wood bisected artistically by veins of inlayed brass, whose thoughtful arrangement is uninterrupted by the breaks between drawers.
The bedspread is a warm white decorated lightly by black embroidery - a band of lace forming a square that speaks of nuzzley sweet interiority.
Two cross-legged people face one another.
“What would that look like?”
“That would be nice.”
A morning glance between the venetians affords vistas of lush spring foliage and a futuristic peek of London’s iconic “Shard” as cobalt surrenders to dayblue.