THE MAYOR'S GUIDE TO INDISCRETION
We try to imagine the afterlife. Moonlight slathered
in the small depressions beside collar bones,
luxurious handholds when the body is a cliff,
when the body is ravine.
We try to imagine a different kind of municipality,
where the people do not kiss like you or me
or especially themselves.
Now our mouths are practice kisses,
and we open them as if at any moment an apple.
This one last time, let us be distilled
in darkness, in the afterlife
there is no future to promise, no past
lit bright by regret.
THE MAYOR'S GUIDE TO LIES
The first lie is a costume with an obvious seam.
Think about lies. You get better at them
until you can tell one so simple it is wind
in trees, wind turning flags and hair into river.
Now think of lies in clusters like mushrooms
with effects from delicious to ambulance.
You'll never know how many,
and the best are still beautiful small umbrellas
sheltering forgotten ground.
If I am honest, I don't know why
I don't want this for you.
This is the problem with the truth.
THE MAYOR'S CONCESSION SPEECH
Flat water between waves, the lull beside the heartbeat.
All the little bones not mentioned in the song
about how the bones connect. Thank you. We are windswept
and grateful for such a short time after illness.
As in the game where a message is whispered
from one ear to another, think of how happy we can be
with what no one said. We are playing that game right now.
Each day shivers free of history in this way, the spaces
between the letters in a name,
and yet the private citizen must describe the death
of the public personae. It was a plant that planted itself.
It grew invasively and does so still inside our dreams.
Giggle uncontrollably if you understand me.
Personae can be highly problematic, yet for me voice is one of the most intriguing and persuasive elements of poetry. These poems are part of book-length exploration of how personae and voice work with and against issues of agency and empathy.