channeling cummings and Dickinson at Christmas

i. a hedonist’s plea

the syntax of things
e.e. cummings

forgive me my hedonism
& i’ll forgive you your stunning beauty

that leaves me nearly unable to stand
not only upright but myself

for desiring you this way
the curves of an ear, a neck, a thigh

but i am after all merely a man
the lesser part of human & woman

my linguistic slights of hand cannot mask
my mouth’s silent intentions

warm as sheets & pillows beneath us
in the afternoons of my mind

ii. if in the Arc of the Night

An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
Emily Dickinson

Daily we turn
our Backs
on the Sun—
just standing
on this Earth

Might the Sun
forgive us
our cyclic Sin—

If in the Arc
of the Night
we hold fast
to the One
we love

—P.L. Thomas


Muscles better and nerves more.
e.e. cummings

this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
e.e. cummings

they did not doubt
their holidays

because holy days
intertwined them

their stolen solitudes sacred
silent as lipstolips

hands&mouths offered
lying skintoskin

their unwrapping of gifts
anointing everything

their other world
for living&breathing as if

every time the only time
these their holidays

—P.L. Thomas

meet me at the bottom of the well (our seasons out of kilter)

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Emily Dickinson

Forgive me/they were delicious
“This Is Just To Say,” William Carlos Williams

So now I had a well if I needed one.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

meet me at the bottom of the well
there i will kiss your fingertips

tiny brief and fading gestures of my bones
telling you in the darkness hiding us

if this is what you want
if this is truly what you can bear

i am offering all i have to share
small and inadequate as kissing fingertips

as i invite you here to the bottom of this well
my sincerity will engulf you like a tidal wave

because this all that is small and less than
lies here as my only remaining thing for just you

time has driven us underground our seasons out of kilter
forever shrouded and muted if we dare embrace

if this is what you want and truly can bear
if this my inadequate can ever be enough

meet me at the bottom of the well
not of time or place but always like a sigh

there i will kiss your fingertips
spooning i will press my feet against your soles

i ask this without asking and the promise of small gestures
waiting in the emptiness of the dark well i dug

—P.L. Thomas

fragments of a poet’s mind (they might be poems)

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
Adrienne Rich, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”

But I’ll never be
Anything you ever want me to be
“Slipped,” The National

the world is made of glass
our hands of stone

despite the sign (HANDLE WITH CARE)
we hold shards in our palms

i have come here
to kiss the arch of your foot

the left foot if i may
this is the only way
that i can pray
tell you what i want to say

this kiss your foot the arch

the first time he saw her
after the first time he kissed her
not on her lips or facing her
but on her left shoulder just at the curve of her neck

she showed him there on that spot a tattoo
a line from a poem she loves
and looked him in the eyes
saying in case you didn’t know

tears wet his face
he held her in his arms
pressing his lips there again
because because because

i have been looking for you
although i didn’t know it was you
until i realized that it was you i was looking for

her hands were hers to offer
not things to be taken
especially in marriage

this her holding hands etiquette
this her rules of engagement
fingers laced with palms pressed together

i mark my life with blood

not the way women live
the biology of recycling themselves
theirs a possibility of motherhood

i mark my life with blood

these rituals of shaving as seeking
another beneath relentless hair
someone I can never be

as we build the world
we tear it down
because we don’t want to be humans
we want to be gods

—P.L. Thomas

death bed (the silent spines of books)

In other words, they were attached by a slender thread.
“Scheherazade,” Haruki Murakami

I tell you miserable things after you are asleep
“Conversation 16,” The National

Living is also dying
he told her holding a worn paperback
But dying is never living

he could not stop himself
from smiling and looking away
when he talked biology and language

If you will join me in my death bed
I will tell you wordless stories every night
like the silent spines of books

words were the great gymnastics
that allowed him to tell her
his beating heart lived for her

and then

“The difference between a sentence and a line”
she heard his voice reading
although his lips never moved

she pulled his hand to her bare thigh
pressing hers on top of his warming there
hoping the stories would last forever

like a blackberry jam stain fingerprint
on the corner of the novel’s page
he read aloud to her the very first time

—P.L. Thomas