A Muse

He winds through the party like wind, one of the just
who live alone in black and white, bewildered

by the eden of his body. (You, you talk like winter
rain.) He’s the meaning of almost-morning walking home

at five A.M., the difference a night makes
turning over into day, simple birds staking claims

on no sleep. Whatever they call those particular birds.
He’s the age of sensibility at seventeen, he isn’t worth

the time of afternoon it takes to write this down.
He’s the friend that lightning makes, raking

the naked tree, thunder that waits for weeks to arrive;
he’s the certainty of torrents in September, harvest time

and power lines down for miles. He doesn’t even know
his name. In his body he’s one with air, white as a sky

rinsed with rain. It’s cold there, it’s hard to breathe,
and drowning is somewhere to be after a month of drought

Song to the Siren

The hulks lie on their sides amid the breakers,
the wrecks of mischance rot. I could lose myself
in riddled waves: sailors drown daily there.
I walked the cliffs and talked with salt and spray.
Sing me again the blazing pavilions, the carbon-dated
roofless towers. You sit alone
among antiquities of spume, dispensing
gull-ridden rocks and masts, the click of whitecaps
on a rust-locked shore.
                                     The sailors
have what they came searching for, bone-box of breath
beneath a salvaged ocean, for which
there is no key. I carry this cold front
stirred into a tune, inhaled like liquid
nitrogen. The clouds above the beach are poison
like the sea, but their place is known. Odysseus
had his nostalgia: traitor king, slaughterer.
I count myself a suitor.

“Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”

In the painting by Guido Reni of Saint Sebastian
in the Palazzo Rosso, which reproduction makes available
to those who travel only on the page, the saint to be
(he’s not yet assumed by artifice, encumbered

with perfections) endures continual martyrdom
with a visual sigh, gazing almost directly upward
as if to ask What now my love, or hum a chorus of
Is that all there is, the body always some song

or another. The eye tramping the simulacrum
of a surface hands have touched can’t help but note
how lush the uncorrupted flesh appears: the curve, for one
example, of the waist (narrowest circuit of the boy),

just beneath the instance of an arrow’s entrance, or
the shadow just above the tangled loincloth that is surely
pubic hair. One grasps that sainthood is an attribute of youth,
the wondrous fair, as in old ballads; they always end.

The boy in the Eagle Discount Supermarket,
for another, an apparition in a backwards baseball cap
appraising cuts of meat in artificial light,
deciding what he can afford

to buy, how much each cut costs. I love the ground
on where be stands. His face? Unverifiable.