to purer degrees of want

Xiao Yue Shan

   all the world’s a lullaby and still no sleep       wandering down winchester and rose       body crescent in night’s dark syrup       and a thin wire of singing coming from ginger's diner on the left side         the sightlines that carry light to all the houses   real and imagined       agree with the pomegranate moon       that certain hours belong to lovers       but if I’m going to talk about us       I can never be fast enough       with the way you would’ve told it sounding like flutes       sounding like yesterday sounding like your key       in the door any minute now           tonight the stars call to one another on telephones       so who can blame me when I say I can’t sleep       walking three blocks to the vietnamese restaurant of gingham vinyls       where annie put out plates of cucumber sticks       and told us stories as green and sultry and underwater       as saigon bursting in its summer skin     enchanted like anything else lost in the crooked corridors of memory     in all those days gasping for breath       when we stifled it with aluminum when we ate it up     in neon orange quartets       that was when we never slept       hours from the night hurried and white       broke open like sugar packets on the table while you looked       at the sharp of my shoulder and I sat six thousand miles away       and when I reached out for your hand it was so mundane     that I took a packet of marmalade instead       you wouldn't stop digging your nails       into the rivers of cookies and cream lacquer       even when I asked nicely       even when I hit you       you were gorgeous under florescent lighting       your sadness in apricot cheeks like august       coaxing ripeness into fruit       blood popping bubblegum in the whites of your eyes       your face a puddle of milk on the countertop     like a saint done up for a night out on the town with the girls       when outside the window     it wasn’t really raining right now is about when the trains stop running       still   by the station bodies hover   in steam and dew of variegating light       flickers of fingernails and eyelids   vaguely brighting       I see you there with wings drilled into your ankles     flirting up and down the hyacinths on st. james the bridge of your nose through a small flame and the sight of your naked legs       crossed holy on the windowsill       how there can be anything as absurd as sleep       burning time like a candle in the glass       burning curtains to get some light in the room     when the only thing crazier than that is waking up       with you in the thick middling of it like relief     just as a poem     is only a poem if it is       bound on all four sides by silence

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