Rodan's hands
Cover of 'Bending the Notes'

Poems from Bending the Notes


It’s like we’re all bicycles
and we all have these handlebars
and some of the handlebars and some
of the seats are incredibly beautiful
not to mention the way the wheels spin
and the bells ring
and the reflectors reflect and we can’t
look at them and we can’t stop looking at them
and all we really want is to get on top of them
and ride off into the sunset but they say
hey I’m not a bicycle okay
I have an eternal soul that you can’t see
because you’re so focused on my handlebars
look they’re only handlebars okay you’re such a
foot all you think about is pedaling
all you think about is wind wind wind
so then we nod a little guiltily and maybe
finger a spoke a little sheepishly
and ask for their forgiveness
and maybe they feel sorry for us then
because our desire feels ugly to us then
when really it’s beautiful
and they’re beautiful and we’re beautiful
and they lean over and offer us
their basket which is somehow attached
to the place where their handlebars meet and our lunch
is in there and their lunch is in there too
so we sit together munching our lunches
under the big trees
all desire gone for the time being
the wind playing up in the branches
our souls playing near our discarded shoes
kickstands gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight

The Soul’s Insistence

The soul likes to go grocery shopping
so it tags along with the body
but the body is tired for its part and only
needs some milk and some aluminum foil.

How about some lemons, says the soul
standing among the pyramids of fruit
which the body knows aren’t really pyramids
because it’s all done with mirrors. But the soul

is standing among the pyramids telling the body
it needs lemons. And the body is tired
of the soul telling the body what it needs
when it doesn’t even know the difference between

pyramids and produce, lemons and mirrors, needs
and desires. The soul has no idea, thinks the body
and says as much out loud, or maybe only
sotto voce, so the soul mishears, the soul misunderstands

and says to the body, yes they do have pears,
pointing admiringly at another perfect pyramid.


After every job he did he said
god. He wasn’t talking to god,
he was talking to himself,
but if he didn’t say god
after a job he did, he didn’t
do the job right, he said
to himself and not to god
or Bildad the Shuhite. It wasn’t
his job to say god—that
was someone else’s job,
and it wasn’t superstitious
as if not to say it violated some
principle of magic. It was more
of a burp. It came from being
full of amazement, and heartbreak,
and sick with desire for the world,
and something not of the world.
It came from being on the job and on
his toes. He was on his feet all day for
god’s sake. But he wasn’t on the lookout
for god. For that was someone else’s job.
He just happened to have a nose
for god. An ear for god. You could say he had
a good eye for god but it wasn’t his job and he wasn’t
even talking to god. He was mad at god.