An Absence of Clouds
Carrying your basket of stones, you stumble on towards morning, voice wrapped in
a cloud of crows.
There is a village in Italy with cold eyes.
There is a town in Germany with its boots still on.
Along the way, far from the ocean, you can visit the shipwreck. Step inside. Sit
down at a broken table. Listen to the sullen woman who lives inside the table. She is
answering the soft voices of knife wounds. Are they yours? Someone like you will want a
As she speaks, you begin a journey within your journey, riding your hands over a
dark wet thigh in search of some final ambush.
Tell me the color of the streets of ruin. Show me the disasters in the homeland of
the cautious. What if everything that has made me what I am appears to others as
commonplace as a deserted village street?
The rain had been falling steadily for weeks. One day it suddenly stopped. I
stepped outside, splashing through the puddles of new water and stood in a clearing,
letting the light fall down on me from the clean new sky. And it filled me, as if beneath
my bones I was meant to hold light, to fill with it and hold it inside.
Inside the house, a thin woman, with more light in her bones than I could ever hope
to have, watches me playing in the sunlight, a black and white cat rubbing at her knees.
As she opens the door, I begin ascending, lost in the air and reaching down to hold her.
If you are kind, come in. If you are cruel, if pain and absence praise you, come in.
I’ve been brother enough to starlight.
Everyone that passes understands I am not alone.
You can follow me too. I have news of the knives’ children. I have a basket of hats.
I am the result of a lunar childhood. I am that pet you never really wanted, sitting on a
perch in the corner, tapping its beak softly against something you can’t see.
Because work is a stone. And age is another stone. Side by side without eyelids.
Again it is raining.
So I went to visit my parents and there was only a stone for their house. My mother
and father lived in the house, but the stone had eaten their voices. They listened to the
sound of smoke, which is the sound of the earth, trying to hear the sound of careful lives.
But I have no confidence in mountains, which are only large stones, because
deserts awaken in their bellies.
After dinner, the four points of the fork ask, “What has come between us?” and the
pebble at the head of the table has no answer.
This is a world you could live in. This is the village you intend to marry. This is
after ever after, the oven filled with baked witch. So what’s the catch? I am. Which is
you. Which is your dream about the wounded cat.
I leave blood in the hallway. I don’t happen, I am.
Think of me as your breakfast before the meatgrinder.
Listen, I want to give you a tip, pal. Cortez discovered the ocean was right. Nobody
cares if you swallow it.
A clump of flies bursts from a falling apple, twists into a tornado dive and climbs
back into the heart.
That’s me, among the edging away.
Let us have no food but stones. Let the light play at shadows like a slow child.
Let the sun rise like a disease. Let the war between left and right finally end and the
winner go off alone.
What does it matter who I am until you ask me to prove it?
Tiny pieces of the moon caught in the bark.
Shouting does not feed the air, so a man is singing and crying. He begins so small
and careful. A small desire purrs and sleeps. Suddenly silence lights the path.
Now he is growing so large we crawl into his toe. Deep in his body, another bed is
baking. Your bed. Arise.
You write down a word and it asks you a question.
Sex like a tourist . . . three barrels of sorrow to be delivered on Tuesday.
Oh oh but nibble me dribbly, smoothcat.
Then that look that says it’s too late to take it back.
And that voice climbing out of your throat, grateful for the unexpected. Let it spill.
Let it thank the stones for the absence of clouds. Thank the stars for giving hope to the
stones. Thank the air for anything. Thank the wind, whose secretary has a white beard
and no eyelids and fits in a thimble.
Death comes sharp and small like the crack of a hummingbird’s wishbone, but
death is only another message from the absence of clouds. Take notes. Grow larger.
Take this in your hand. It will save you. Not because of what it is, but because of
the way you hold it.
Fiction. Modern Abstract Fables.
(First edition, hardcover with dustjacket, 524 pages, $36.50 USD.)
Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days draws from fairy tales, a condescending of a 1938 Social Studies reader for 6th grade, an 1890 handbook on marital compatibility, numerous annoying educational advancement studies, the myths and legends of third-world countries and minority peoples, pulp fiction, a history of carnival side shows, folktales, frequent conversations with Crows, Owls and a wide variety of underground inhabitants, insects and the people who collect them, Joseph Cornell, Günter Eich, Russell Edson, the French Surrealist poets, the Quay Brothers, letterpress printing, and the author’s inability to channel his imagination linearly.
Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.