Black Cake

I built a citron tree last night in the backyard. Went up easy. No strings attached this time either. 

I think my banana tree was mostly relieved, if not feeling a little curious, but I didn't pause for conversation. I worked quickly to avoid mosquito bites, and what explanation could I have offered other than a continued monologue about moving to NYC for divinity school. 

My banana tree has pretty much already heard it all. 

Then, this morning, first thing, I procured one and a half pounds. Into my woven basket the fruits of my labor fell, stems still attached. Good girth in the hand, larger than lemons, but roughly the same weight. 

Yesterday, all that stood between me and Emily Dickinson's black cake: one and a half pounds of citron. 

No problem.

And I realize we're dealing with a 107 degree heat index, but I also unearthed nineteen chicken eggs from various neighbors. Couldn't stand the idea of riding my bike to Publix, and my car was recently towed. Five pounds of raisins. Two pounds of sugar. One and a half pounds of currants—this likeness, endearing.

Today, I learned how to measure butter in pounds. 

One whole nutmeg per shoulder.

Not a soul asked questions, and one elderly man even donated a nearly full bottle of Honey Bee brandy for the cause. I nodded solemnly, braided pigtails, sweating. 

If I was the prayer cloaked in white, this man was everything else. 

Do I seem like the sort of woman who would halve, much less quarter, an Emily Dickinson recipe for the sake of convenience? 

What I mean is: my cake pans, they were full, so I had no choice but to locate a behemoth milk pan. 

Who am I kidding—I never possessed cake pans to begin with.

Have you ever set your oven's timer to five hours?

Mythy Lucidites

Mercury trines Neptune. The wind prepares itself for shoeless visitors. My power steering fluid is leaking again. We howl from below with sizable pleasure.

"My Nissan is getting thirteen miles to the gallon," I tell Warren Auto & Tire Center, "but my grandmother is a rocket now." She died almost exactly one year ago. 

"The other rockets are jealous of my grandmother," I tell Warren Auto & Tire Center. 

For example, Rocket 1 to Rocket 2, “My engine mount — so boring — so featureless! where ‘on Earth’ did your grandma procure those strappy sandals?”

Mythy lucidites, merely observant, reflecting dusk — we don’t believe in crossposting photos to Instagram and Facebook.

Your pleasure is my pleasure, Earth.

For example, Rocket 3 to Rocket 4, “my nose cone — ugh — my recovery tube! so lackluster! so humdrum! how ‘on Earth’ does your grandma’s blushing rose continue to thrive?”

We are bright-eyed capacious pigs making room for louder voices. We are at the Tuscaloosan Arboretum, balancing an iPhone on the back of an empty Starbucks cup, taking photos of ourselves. The Nascent Imperceptible speaking with its mouth full. The newest illusion! — it’s already my favorite one. Exotic garbage everywhere! — in elaborate procession — on the move yet again. Posterity of dual mobility — humanly sized, throwing our hooves to december's bluest yonder. Or the day’s favorite cloud! — sauntering in astral limp.

We are growing suspect rooms in our titanic swine torsos, echoing uncomfortably, cosmic comics. My power steering fluid is leaking but they don’t know from where. Echoing uncomfortably above, hoping to be heard by Whom in Which Where.

Warren Auto & Tire Center, we already lived once without tongues, busy-bodies shooting the lipless unconscious breeze.


Fasten My Invocation Awake

I ask the first poem-prayer in this new series of poem-prayers I’m writing to “fasten my invocation awake,” but once I’ve executed my initial request — I write the words where they belong in the opening couplet, “VERY SORE & SO ASUNDER commune / to fasten my invocation awake” and then several more times in the right margin just to be sure the poem is taking this command especially seriously, “fasten my invocation awake / fasten my invocation awake / fasten my invocation awake” — Who, exactly, is responsible for rousing Awake? I’ve also just designed and birthed VERY SORE & SO ASUNDER, so it can’t be them, and so, Who?

Which is to say, once I order my poem-prayer to perform a particular maneuver — a maneuver that must affect the outcome of the remaining sounds, breaks, and proclivities of the poem-prayer itself (and for itself, removed from me and my desires) — Who is in charge of the resulting lines?

Are these lines written in a child-language of the command itself? Do these first lines belong to the newborn cries of the newly expressive invocation-babies? Or, is this . . . Awake’s voice? Certainly Awake’s voice belongs to her, and I can’t take sole credit for summoning her throaty bellows into existence, even if temporarily. Or, is it true — did I possess true creative control of my initial request? Did I — finally — invoke the correct sonic elasticity to begin with?

I know, for example, that a schizophrenic man is treasure hunting in a recycling bin across the street. He’s using a Bounty Hunter Tracker IV, which he just demonstrated for me in repeated detail about fifteen minutes ago (no treasure populating my digestive system, no treasure of the eyes, nose, ears, or mouth, no treasure swimming in my brains). He tells me, in fact, that I’m free to fly.

I also know, for example, that the man at the table next to me is playing chess by himself (with Simpsons deluxe edition chessmen, replete with a laminated fold-up board, and Marge is the queen, though the blue of her frizzy updo is deeply unsatisfying in this plastic depiction).

All three of us — me, the treasure hunter, and the lonesome chess player — are all involved in eerily similar activities.

For example, I also know it’s deeply satisfying to capitalize Awake not just for the purposes this journal entry, but that the lines which follow the initial couplet of the poem-prayer also avoid every question I’ve asked here (and, indeed, I still don’t know Who wrote them!): “I can’t keep busy any longer / w the Tremendous / Truth — Here is this echo / Terrible — Here is this echo / I make / alone / Alone / & here, unstrapped / Here / is the echo again/ Terrible, she echoes again.”

The J-List

I've taken to reciting the J-list from the Emily Dickinson Archive when I can't sleep. I share the cramped space in front of the kitchen window with my elderly cat, and I perform for the garbage bin pressed against the side of my building, sometimes for the white neighborhood cat who harbors one blue eye and one green eye. I'm interested in elaborate performance that goes undocumented, performance for the sake of centering and healing the self. My cat doesn't participate or listen. She's mastered sleeping with her eyes open this summer.

It took me a week to memorize all 74 words in the J-list. It took another few days to turn my recitation into a full-length performance (replete with costume and background music). And last night, last night I performed all 74 words in the J-list with silent Js. I discovered some beautiful marriages during last night's production. Jacob and Jamaica suddenly found themselves pruned down to Acob and Amaica. Jealousy and Jeopardy committed to a monogamous life partnership before my closed eyes: Ealousy and Eopardy laid bare, virgins again, but smarter this time. Uliet and Upiter (previously Juliet and Jupiter) departed our solar system for Erusalem (previously Jerusalem). They're never, ever coming back.


Earlier tonight, my friend Krystin gave me a maypop fruit. I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to eat its flesh or seeds (or both). I'm admittedly tired of relying on Google. Tonight's preemptive insomnia plan includes prying open this gorgeous green alien gift and plunging some part of it into my mouth and chewing, chewing in the name of rendering Emily Dickinson's J-list true. Depending on the severity of the maypop's taste, I may or may not swap out all Js for Ms.

How will Messamine (previously Jessamine) ascend then. Will Manuary (January) still Macket (Jacket) Mordan (Jordan) Moyously (Joyously). Will the wrath of which God's Mudgment (Judgment) reign a new variety of Mesus (Jesus) for me to Moin (Join) in a skin I can Mustify (Justify) as my own: the only real mustification I'm in search of anyway — why I must wear skin at all.