Excerpts From Permiso



The Burning Room

You are leaving the burning room of your life
to go next door where it's cool.

Come back.
We are not done.

Last Night

Last night. He said. After I said.
He said: if that’s the case, I can’t stay.
Neither of us moved.
The candles on the table stayed lit.
Though they flared a bit when I began
they did not go out. They rang
for the whole conversation.
In the fireplace, too, the fire stayed on.
I waited for something to happen.
There was no symbolism in the room.
Only us.


There’s a tree in my heart
and I don’t know its name.

It stands straight behind my breasts
like a closed tulip.

Permiso, it says.
Allow me.

Neil Young Songs are Really about Cars

My car is gone. Its body taped. Quietest relationship in twenty years. My small black mirror.

Went everywhere. Held everything. A whole marriage passed through. Angry driving and honeymoon driving, scenic routes, incendiary crashes, post break-up mind lapses, harangues by trucker women, cops’ caresses, insurance vigilantes, bicycles, vet visits before during and after, empty passenger seat, empty back seat, broken window, a flicker of children and new humour. Four million ice cream cones: Greg’s, Ed’s, Baskin and Jerry’s.

No longer where I was, but not yet where I want to be. Grinding between the gears. When I took my foot off the brake things went fast — the last hill of a half year. Until Frank, doctor of cars, said the suspension would fall from the body, could not take me to the highway. I took it for one last wash, bereft. I left it for kids to learn on.

Years ago the hunky man in a rustproofing shop, chimneying through smokes, urged the ultimate importance of structural integrity. To the children now for learning, for cutting out almost transparent doily bits, tea-stained metal. Weld and paint. Make new, make over. All those Neil Young songs are really about love and cars. ‘Rust Never Sleeps.’ It’s time to go.

I’m giving my body to science.