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Nine Poems
Like a Bird, & Not the Feather
two of wands

Hollereyed the moon tries on gas station, soda machine, locked
toilet, linedried bedsheets, a caterpillar fording yard dirt.

A naked buckeye in torn bandage. In one glass juice, whiskey in
another. Photons fall. The radio talks back. 

She is laughing, her head thrust back, one hand on her forehead
using each word like lovers: with a transparent heart that hides
nothing from her ribs. 

She takes one breath after another. Bare syllables collect like
water over her breasts like the hinges of a dream, turning.
He is gone. She cannot, after so many years, understand her
hunger for a man she barely knows. 

(Wasn’t that the flash of a match: over cubed ice, cantaloupe.) 

(The just enough-ness impulse that would keep her breathing.) (If
Christ is love & flies from whence?)
The black silhouette of a cat rearranges itself on a road that loses
itself in landscape. 

A couplet makes a stab in the dark. 
(Why not why) (Tell the truth or I’ll jump) 

Lord it is so easy: to say someone loved you. Pawned himself,
limb after. Pulled his spent pronoun through. Light, at his back.


Hopes & Fears

At a picnic table in Blue Heaven next to the Church of the God of
the Prophecy you drink rum punch & eat Angels on Horseback. 
The waitress is pale, shy. A heartfelt soloist flies from her mouth. 
Like church noise, that distant animal echo. Joyful joyful we:

Silent, lightning leaps across the sky. 
Absolutely she says, when he died I knew nothing. The world had
already changed. Like light in her hair. 
God is. Does not stop at her flesh. 

So when kiss today kiss kiss comes to her & to kiss you— 

You have let things pass, too much. 
Like a red chicken jerking over corn kernels in sand. 
I mean: a wiser man would understand the flight of the mistress
into a heaven that loves her: 

like a knife that separates left from right. 
The black trees seem to beg & shift— 
Liberty is going to take a rib you cant/                 stop her. 

You drink. You pass through that doorway; you turn the corner.
(Eager just not touch her. Must be. Hush. Again. Hush. Please
God. Tremendously one/                                        another:
yourselves. One wants you think to create a bright new future.
One wants to create it. Why shouldn’t you. 


Our Non-Euclidean Futures
nine of wands

In her astonishment in flipflops a watch with a sunset & a palm
tree she answers the telephone says I, attempts to find a more
convenient form. 

Her voice is like a carnation sucking water, sucking blue. 
She drinks. Hello she says. 
Yes she says like the lion of St. Mark, with liquid nonchalance— 

We agree on the physics of the situation. It was something of fire
on which God wrote. But to live with human faithlessness— 

Closing your remorse is already in on you. 
You lean against the crenellations of the air conditioner. 
Dandelions migrate in the bellies of beetles. 

The drawback of being she says God was that he could not both be
so & say so. Whosoever she says approaches the pronoun. (Till
death do us part …) 

(Here it is) (One leaf, treeless) (As if the page too were suffering) 

She hangs up she turns to you. Her eyes are a pale turquoise 
lightning to milk at the far edge. Hair gathered up for falling … 
The story on the back of her head, neck: a caress. 
She is acceptable here. Why cant you think there be time … just to swim
for a while. 


1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = The Symbol Is Real

You ride a Ferris wheel you love it for circumference. 

She leans back she is like/ against the navyblue sky & goblets of
arc sodium a negative angel. In order she says to get used to the
idea of death: that’s what destiny means, to be opposite. 

An insect choir turns on Vaseline clouds wave bye goodbye. 

(She really is beautiful &, remarkably, maybe totally oblivious to this fact.) 

Like the snap of tulip across dirt, a broken sonata, something
burnt. But yesterday was so long ago! she thinks. 

I dont even remember if the husband was in this life. 

Always she says beyond wishing & life after the first choice there is
nothing—In her thin dress all shot in red all her molecules seem
to fly open, spread hot & personal across the darkening grass all
that upsidedown. 

(Whereas the weak noise in your ribs—Open your thighs to fate
& (if you can

Yes; no; yes? 

God knows why) (Because you are afraid

She steps through the neon loops into emptiness, alone 


Papering over the Waltz in Her Life
ace of cups

Moonshine the crickets bone.

A comet trespasses over a crater. 
Niagara Falls fringed in virgin cornfield. Trembling in the bright 
mysterious trees colloquial death so fine. 

Everyones love has a problem. Whats yours. 

Of emptiness: & birds. 

Leaves going on & the grass being green. 

Here it is the housecat, hunting early. An angel lap swimming at 
the community pool— 

Hope? a dead cat? a kiss that scorched my ribs off? 

I cant quite remember

(mistaken as you are by the curve of a dactyl). 

(This could be done simply by saying “wow!” or rolling one’s eyes
& pointing? Or inhabit as a pattern already caught up again & 
theres nothing you can do about it now—

(Freedom depends on this: that you find an elegant pattern.) 
(Fill it in!) 


A Syncopated Hallucination
four of swords

The violins hold a high fermata, release.
Seraphim fall like hawks. She feels as if she were meant to inherit 
the earth. She has another drink from the styrofoam cup. 

Perhaps Liberty writes on your greasestained napkin 
understanding is. 

In a sort of skyblue dress—that shows her shoulders. 

Her arms are bright birds & barbed wire cross-stitched. 
You lay your knife & fork across the white plate. You let yourself
down hand over hand. 

(You move toward her cautiously unsolved.) 

A bird is singing. The sun is somewhere down a gong in the 
bushes. A cloud flings her skirt over a couple of palm trees. 
Nothing would give up: even the dirt keeps breathing. 

There will always she says be the danger/               of two people
meeting, having split up because she has a taste for love & he for
sex—    & each then wondering if they had made a mistake. 

(It sounds very much like a waltz.) 
None of this/                                                    the girl says is
easy—You hold between your hands the black hills of her
mind. It is like a knife, & she barefoot inside it


The Usual Past Tense … Is Hung

Admit it: you have spared her nothing, not even this.
Like little planets hanging there suspended like soft stars like 
cattle kneeling in earth. Crows flutter in her veins; church bells
come again in wet speech. 

(Do you want to believe she wanted to live? Did you want her to 
survive? I tell you: the sky is blue & the dead are coming back. 
Children run screaming as if choreographed around bright plastic 
animals, a perfect violin. 

(Her ghost? Is you misspelling your own name, the sun shining in 
the wrong part of the sky, hope slipping away with every— 
You draw sooty diamonds, a cemetery as seen from the top of a
tree, telephones & butterflies dissolving in exhaust, milk-colored
atoms expounding constellation. 

You are sitting at the sparrows table. Your eyes wild, uncombed. 
Scrape window, rose, cloud. Dandelion, tricycle, cement. You 
cross out all the syllables, try again. (In the unanswerable logic of
nightmare: you hardly need exist. 

You’re not so much a plastic flower you know a question mark as
the mirror—I tell you: there are no more windows & the truth
is passing between worlds hurts. Mad flower: breath of my
breath: in fact now dead she is your master; a bright nothing bud; a
single scream caught the way it appeared as it was uttered: O Lord
who is on fire? (Is it you 


eight of cups

You stand without shadows on asphalt at midday—

As if love were a periodic table or the kind of story people simply
could not tell … 

There is hope in the landscape & passion in the children— 

Crazy: as her kind were supposed to be. 

The sun bleeds on pale diners behind cellophane—Oxygen &
hydrogen gather to be somewhere else—Coke & orange float in

A housecat gnaws fine bones— 

Love exists to end up in a book—(Oh you!) 

(You now : now you.) 

Small butterflies wobble through terrible sweet heat— 
Childrens voices fall like rain, strung with fingers of clarity— 
Old men on benches fish the Milky Way— 

Liberty dreams of redemption but knows better than that too— 

(Did she really say such things? No: but, she might have.) 
(Does it feel like that? Absolutely.) 


Death Does Not Mean Death

Scattered among some trees at six am at the edge of a field, the
girl passes a jumble of cannibalized cars. She pulls over. A doe &
her yearling browse, skinny by. Pecans breathe Sunday blue. The
energy she thinks required to ask the right question? 

Is so great. Like a small frog at the bottom of a fish tank (is it
mine?) She imagines Whitman re-planning his funeral. 
The nihilists she hears Peabody the narrator saying say it is the end,
the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is not more …
would death have come had she not— 

Liberty reclines, rolls down the windows. 
Two dying sycamores embrace, give way to hand-painted signs & 
roadside irises: rough tongue, violet exclamation. 

Nothing for it Lord she thinks, between us: nothing. Nothing left
of what we really experienced, our thoughts, our memories, our
sensations, from which we are becoming more & more separated: 
that reality which is, simply, my/                                          life— 

The sky goes yellow behind carnation smear. The trick she says
Lord is to turn it inside/                 out. (Faith dawns blind. It
resets. (Automatically. To metabolism & panic. It comes forward.
I am only/                                                                            my
mother. Cross section of a girl) (Just a scale somewhere, a phrase
hearing herself think.  

Emily Carr’s second book of poetry, 13 Ways of Happily: Books 1 & 2 (Parlor Press 2011), was chosen by Cole Swensen as the winner of the 2009 New Measures Prize. Excerpts from The Weights of Heaven, a book-length erasure essay, was recently published in the Adaptations issue of the Western Humanities Review. The poems here are from Carr’s Tarot novel, Name Your Bird without a Gun; for a video performance of other excerpts, visit