George Kalamaras

From the Book of Tongues (12)

“I am dying so I can breathe down
on everything you do.”
—Miguel Hernandez

All the curvings of the ants at my feet mulled,
“Miguel.” But it was evening,
and I could not find the exact page
in my favorite book, The Many Uses
of Mediterranean Lemon and Sea Salt,

in which I am cited (sideways) precisely
seventeen times as a speck of dust
on Miguel Hernandez’s tuberculous cot. Then someone
coughed, ghost, snow, then, musk ox, clot, even exhaustive
and please cut here.

                                                Such small words. Linseed
oil, boiled to inspect our tongue. And the dead left ear
of this someone’s lover plagued me
street to street, ant upon ant,
like an unwashed shell, like Brahms’ lost
baton. Like many years of fits. And the red shed
tear ached down this someone’s cheek, just to be seen.

But a way of pissing
by the window need not
crawl a cop. Nor the bedclothes
writhing beneath defiled bones.
Nor the squash suching this, that, sucking
water from willow root and hare.

                                                            These orchards
of sunlight, tendering my touch. How seventeen
times should be enough to be fruitful and multiply,
especially for a dust mote among ants, should populate
an entire field of ears with Brahmanical
soot fresh from the ashen shave of the face’s fire
ceremony as it prepares the feast. The feast? What
feast? As if all the tables of the world didn’t

already involve some conversion
of lemon and salt. To eat a wedge and mean, have to go.
To inscribe into the leaves, I’m only dead, but mean,
exhaustive cut or ghost clot here. Even Miguel bled
certain done divine death. How to boil our tongue
and mean all the bones of our faith? Could be chronic.
Could be coal. Could be an unwritten volume in the series,
The Seventeen Uses of My Shame.

                                                               Oh, Miguel.
How many crimes I have crawled out to you, just by virtue
of living the free air you pressed more and more forcibly
until Franco’s entire fist contracted around your lung.

We aren’t already breathing the same struggle-touch
of others, stored in the night oxygen of the leaves?

All the carvings of the ants moil the evening
air, stir soot slow and spore, cut
your name into my tongue-toughed bone.

Why I Avoid Cutting Myself

I clearly birch-box a stand of eastern trees, investigate the
        source of hyssop root.
I remember why I avoid cutting myself when I peel an apple.

The fact of a yellow peony will accept a lot of sad things.
From the green carbon of a dead raccoon, I assess every
        raindrop of trash.

Tell me if I’ve gathered all my loose sways and have
        quickened the moon’s slow.
Remind my wrist of the advantage of true north.

For many centuries I’ve died over and again on
        consecutive Thursdays.
Depending on the weather, it is always Vallejo time and
        nearly always six.

The numerologist read my chest and saw an emanation of
        sparrow blood from my ear.
Takahashi Shinkichi tells me how tastefully I’ve stroked
        the starling with just such an aggressive look.

Get with the program! he shouted, as if I was wearing socks.
The mother-hairs on my neck responded, as if I might die
        again in time for Tuesday’s soup.