A final note

There is a deliberate pleasure in watching
someone smoke cigarettes. Even the echo
of that sentence smells like a stolen observation
that the smoker is deeply, darkly thinking.
In books, they brood; on screen, they are the rebel
or daring victim being slowly, unknowingly undone.
I have always wanted to occupy my mouth
in similar fashion and gather great thoughts
from the shadowed glow erasing my face.
I suckle sweet cigar substitutes instead:
savor the proximity of nature we're taught.
Toast the lung in all its sanctity and encourage
its diverse role within ourselves. As always,
let the credits scroll down your face
before stubbing out the coal.

In Love with Someone Else

Ash blue Wednesday comes cold as a winter poem;
Love treads without name, everything becoming
just enough and then some. Swim in bottomless
bowls; a cutting stroke floats on its own capacity
just like the see-yourself stream tastes a skipping
heart's beat. Pulled by Narcissus' arms from
wetter caves, you roll your own tobacco clue.
Smoking, we scratch about our hands and heads
while reading the crushed velvet scars of first loves,
"I dream skyways back to the silken arms
of an encrypted someone." I confess to God religions
use as their foot in the door, their shiny steel
smiles on this kingdom's mantel, I confess
to shaking like a lost dog at the feel of nothing at
all against my skin, that this creamy absence could
pass on into pauses forever, ones atheists hesitate
but pray for nonetheless. Confronting, confounding,
night scratching seagulls lay peace in December's
windless wake, that said generals might take position
upon the fields. An iceberg moves through blonde water
anonymous. Check for its name on the belly of the fish.
Check the white whale's belly for her expiration date.

Learning to Die

First, assume a holy urban man cradled
softly in long bony arms. She'd shot
the Death Valley scene in Death Valley:
the plane, palette, brush and easel
hand-cranked an excerpt of graffiti
prayer dividends. A cartoon of nutshell
hysteria reminds us over the Sunday paper,
one can still hear Ophelia behind
her drowning refrain. Across her face,
a handcurtain cupped the matchbook sleeve.
Wholly lit, my mother bathed in graveyard
perennials, deferring her shadow sown
on stage. Adjacently the porter left work,
nosediving into his hallowed tinsel town.
He resembled her brother in another life.

Drowning Refrain

How can you see with azure lakes across your eyes,
a whaleoil brocade upon your chest?
The narrow arm of the ocean gets measured in pipes,
for example, traverse this diagram of room-filled people.

We house our tiny continents,
trust an elbow to rub the stranger in your pocket.
As intertwined spectacle, you denude the dictionary
and unmask the poseur doubled up on-screen.

Ahead, your knee must suffer the chair politely.
His head presents a hole in the center of your visual
field, or just the least pattern of resistance.
To see if we like each other less
my voice is what I do instead. Ultimately, fluid
speech and smoking interaction could be the same
as saving someone at sea.

Amy King's new book, Antidotes for an Alibi
will be available later this fall from Amazon.
Other work is forthcoming soon from Explosive
Magazine, Brooklyn Rail and Snow Monkey.
Please visit for more.

2004 Underground Voices