The Face I Had Before I Was Born


Flashes across a billboard in Times Square.

One could go blind looking at it,

But soon it melts into a thick soup like Dali's clock,

And the plastic number magnets holding up the billboard also melt


Into new, muddy-colored numbers.

Women named for abstractions come to bring me comfort one by one

As I lie beneath the censer-sun

(The same sun blazing across the giant pyramids


Blazes across the desert rising from my heart)

How I would give my face for a clock!

And yet I crave an icon-colored sky,

As I lean faceless on my hairy arm


Over the day that murmurs like dogs through grass.

I could sing, that's my star in the form of a hand,

A hot blue one pulsing with finely-varnished heat

That someone somewhere who lives and breathes


Sees and remembers a light boring down on the edge of the world

With its endless cycles of boys and girls, and of a guiding star

That shines over the blind spot on a fugitive river-

Oh, I would like that very much. Art of days,


Art of nights, I say this so that you may understand

I am at the end of everything, am blessed and cursed in the same breath,

Which is the breathless breath of children flying

Across yards on fire, and still my peace only finds its reason


In the fire that joins the fire of that breath.

Shadow upon shadow, I watch wooden lambs leap out of the void

As a woman lays her hands over my eyes.

Forgiveness? Forgiveness.



home * current issue * archives

in the house * submit * subscribe * faq's

special events * zinc * linkfull * contact us