Leave Nothing


Leave Nothing


Sour milk, lard scum, skillet scrapings,
sweet potato peels, eggshells, tobacco leaf,
pipe ash, coffee, cornmeal, burnt crusts,
moldy biscuits, water from a dishpan,
spilt pot likker, ash, dust, and kitchen sweepings—

in the evenings Webster lifts the slop bucket
from the kitchen floor, sloshing its weight
down the back step, past the chicken coop
and smokehouse to the wide yard
with its lean-to and wooden trough,

calling Swee Swee Swee-ah!
Heah pa-g Heah-Heah!

Hearing his voice, the mud rises
on dainty hooves.

Be careful,
he warns the child beside him,
a girl-child slanted on tip-toe, watching
the mud-plastered humps.

Be careful, he says.
The child listens and understands the danger,
listens to the snorts, grunts, knocking snouts,
smacks and squeals of piggish maws
buried in a trough of leavings and gone bads:
they eat it all and leave nothing.

Sows and shoats raise snouts, clotted
with slops, to sniff and watch the bucket
(empty now), the man (in no hurry),
and the girl (tagging-along) before lowering
their rumps into mud and sleep.


To root (verb): to dig,
ferret, burrow, to search out.
The mind roots, grubs. The past forages.

Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman
buried in an earthen dam, a dark rain,
dark rain, Lord, a dark rain in Neshoba County.

Thompson said the young men screamed
so loudly that their voices reminded him
of "pigs squealing."


She said
They hung the hog by its heels
from a scaffolding and slit the belly
with a butch a knife: blood everywhere.

She said
They had two large cast iron pots filled with water
and a fire going under both pots. Said
they scalded the pig and scraped off its hair.

She said
The pig blood spilled everywhere:

The kudzu vines drank deep and ran wild,
swallowing everything in their green maw.

The cotton drank deep, cotton bolls dry
and sharp as tusks.

The earth drank deep, blood-sopped, blood-quenched.
There was red dirt, blood dirt, everywhere, everywhere.

She said
She never would forget.


Wallow (verb): immerse or revel.
The mind wallows. Sunlight, sun-slop
sun-likker spilling over a magnolia blossom.

from W Gmc. *walwojan, ... "to roll"
(see vulva). Figurative sense of "to plunge
and remain in some state or condition."

In the front yard, a child digs a hole, fills it
with tap water, and steps into it: oozy
soap-slick of squish, toe puddin', toe soup.
A mud bath for her feet and her ankles.
A mud child, the mud's child, a child in mud, wallowing.


She watched Webster (long ago) slop sows
and shoats. Listened to Anna's stories
about hogs and the slaughter of hogs.
Now she sits, looking into the night's trough.

The past is leavings and make do and salvage,
the moldy scraps and remnant, a swill—
what she has, what she's offered.

Be careful, Webster said.
Did he mean appetite? Did he mean desire?
Be careful.

She tips her chin to take both in,
swallowing goneby and mightbe.

How hopeful pigs are,
how satisfied, as if there were always
some sweetness, as if they would always rise,
lift themselves from the mud.

In the dark, she hears Webster's step,
the pigs' grunts and snorts, the way they eat
whatever they are offered, always seeking more,
squealing, squealing, squealing all the way home.



I was going to praise the transpersonality of print over the individuality of
I was going to praise the viewer constructed by monochromy
I was going to describe the remarkable comeback intention is making in new music
and praise that
Desire for accessibility flaring up inside me as I praise the fantasy of corporate

In the brief window between takeoff and the use of approved electronic devices I
believe great change is possible
I believe it while banking hard to the east to find smoother air
When I can't tell if a person is joking I believe in the power of poetic modality, to
hear this as music,
to see this as an experiment in the collectivization of feeling, no matter if failed

Red glow of the clock tower visible from our window and red glow of the alarm
clock beside the window
collaborate on a claim about color and synchrony until the former loses minutes in
high wind
Then the claim devolves into a sigh acknowledging the futility of administration, a
I praise for its mutability and enlist
I cannot express in the language of logical entailment my love for you, the second
person plural
on the perennial verge of existence, like color almost becoming surface
I reach for a verb that isn't there but experience its shape, then back-form a
phantom subject
with whom I identify, walking through the park at night

There is nothing more beautiful than a vulnerable grid
glowing in late empire, which is how I think of you, street lights flickering
I think of you as a friend who continues to speak to me, not realizing the call was
dropped, or as
my denied freedom returning in the form of atonality

not when breaking glass wakes me, but when it enters the dream as orchestral
I guess I'm waiting for you to read this back to me in a voice I can entrain into the
actual, tiny wings
brushing the lips, beginning to make sense, oceanic
tone suspended undecidably between exuberance and flatness
I have almost none of the characteristics of the well-made man Walt Whitman
All I have is a kind of supersensitivity to harbor lights and skylines, which come at
me hard
It's like smoking with the patch on for me to be in time, like waving to someone
who was waving to someone behind me for us to correspond

But we do correspond, like a crisis in easel painting and a dirty war
Soft glow of the Kindle when the train enters a tunnel, I would probably reach more
if I went on tour, but I'm dead and busy with teaching
I'm standing before a kind of allover abstraction the placard says I'm part of,

unprimed ground returning as figure, figure coming at me hard
I carry its afterimage into the park and lay it down like a lily where a falling branch
struck a child
While I wait to be reanimated briefly by an as yet only hypothesized force,
I keep my practice virtual
And there are real forces at work in the popular, I acknowledge that now, I am
seeking out forms
of acknowledgment, this is one, let me know if it counts for you, brother
That's a great word, like "bread" or "death," let's add it to the list of things to recover
for the noncommercial
floating city I'm building out of trash and hair, the car alarms that follow thunder,

out of rain and thunder and bread and sex, this is a model, not sure if it scales
Like the princess in Sans Soleil, I am making a list of things that quicken the heart,
and you can be on it
I am having a frank conversation regarding the permissibility of violence during the
long transition
to re-enchantment, and you can leave comments

Out of the bright, perpetual midnight of the truck stop, I saw a man emerge barefoot
Out of the empirical fact of contingency I saw a relation of great delicacy grow,
trellis and vine
and thunder and work, I acknowledge that now
I acknowledge that dark and light as modeling tools must cede to warm and cool
I just learned their screens don't glow, they depend, like moons, on an external light
I had known, but forgotten, that the moon is slowing the Earth's rotation, minutely
lengthening the day
Learning some facts feels like remembering, as they fit into a place other facts have
prepared for them
We can carry the shape of a fact we don't know around like a photograph

of a missing loved one, though any isolated fact is useless
The steady stream of isolated facts we call information distracts us from a basic fact
whose shape we carry
This shape has a volume and we try to fill it with colloids, smoke and foam
When we encounter this missing fact, we will for the first time experience integrity,
which will feel

like remembering, reemerging from a tunnel into rain, I know
I read somewhere in the dark that a transpersonal subject capable of ending the
permanent war
is the still unconstituted whole, the poem
its figure in slow rotation, and each of us carries a volume
This is the short transitional phase between organic imagery and a mature
of great rectilinear severity, the sun gone cadmium among ambient particulates
This is the brief window in which the beautiful etymologies return, when you can
intuit a future usage
in a slur, vinho verde on the roof, skeletonized foliage where we saw those
iridescent beetles mate

A kind of mock vampirism is spreading fast among America's teens and we must
support it,
their desire to be marked and live forever, their refusal to reflect, salt on the neck
maybe the best salt there is
I am willing to stand with any experimental form of sociality grounded in twilight,
and it is a ground
You can sift a handful, see flakes of mica sparkle

in the moment before the acrylic dries, before it's recuperated into the white walls
of medium specificity
Because of expanding underwater plumes, a desperate pluralism has obtained, and
you can say anything
in loose hexameters, help me gather these
quickly, before the night work on the bridge begins


The Airy World

You've begun to breathe, brimming your lungs
with my small sea: practice
for the true thing, the first tug

of air into your slick, cresting body.
Even now, you might survive
if pushed from the deep.

With each false breath, you are drifting closer
to the airy world, this place where we'll touch
but forever be parted, and parting.


Sex Rubenesque

Unleash the excess!
Bring me cleavage and rumpage,
one heftable breast, then another,
a buttock untrussed
and rhapsodic for humpage.
Begin the maneuvers,

purge girdles and covers; undress
each strumpet of frumpage
that revolts a fat lover. Release the noblesse,
the cankles and haunch, trot out the lumpage—
Deliver the flesh!


Buddha in Sunlight

Our old dog lies on the front porch in sunlight.
He moves as the sun moves, follows it
along the porch, rising slowly, never

going further than is necessary
to stay within the warm curve of worship.
He yawns, scratches, sheer minimalist,

conservation of energy. This morning
a rabbit hopped into the yard,
nibbling clover.

He lifted his head, eyed it for a moment,
then lowered his head,
closed his eyes.

This is what Buddha taught:
take no interest
in the arising of thought.

The sun moves off the porch;
he descends delicately the way
a nude descends from her bath, and

he finds a place in the grass.
The rabbit nibbles away,

Let it be, Buddha said;
it will settle