That night her floor welcomed her criss-crossed legs,

her hands that ran against the grain as she sat

cupping in them the gravity of a decade,

the pieces of a bowl repeatedly broken.

She eyed each shard like a museum item

reciting its place in her life’s timeline,

testing an edge or two against tougher skin

and wondering how it had ever got in.

At last she joined them back together,

each part with veins of melted gold.

And when at last she saw it harden,

she put it on her mantel forever.




Mutual Friends, Subway

She is holding hands with my old friend David,

who I’ve directed on many occasions —

And Alexandre presses against a blue-jean vest

when he also rests on my bedside table.

At 8th Street Jane and Oscar and William appear,

and with them Emma and Ernest and Lear.

Near the west village, Dylan Thomas gets off,

But Scott sits with us ’til Central Park South.


Afternoon Nap

The cloud spills like milk

onto the blue tableau-cloth that covers

the earth.

But up there, no one rushes

to clean it up.

(A mistake is not

unheard of in heaven. They just

don’t punish them as much.)

And I am left praising

the empty-glassed angel, because asleep

beside me is you, passing with me

under the spreading sky.

Sky II


Three years is what it took for me

To fall in love with New York City —

I didn’t feel it, until I knew him in it.

Now that we hurdle twilight-over-cab across

The Queensboro bridge, nothing

Not even the set of skyscrapers

Window-flashing and crowned in brick

Feel as real and understood as us.

He is loved and my love is tremendous.

But it is too soon to tell him this.

Now that I can label him

As that particular red-topped pin,

The map of my conquered world

Must be redrawn.

And while it seems punishable to love with softness in a place as hard-won as this,

My love is as momentous as the city that provided the collision.


New Novel Preview: The Readiness Is All

On New York:

What they never told you about New York was that it was whatever you thought it was. It was like an experienced prostitute who always remembered to wear the lingerie you bought her, who knew what you liked and either gave it or withheld it every time you engaged her services. You molded New York to your perception of it in a way not unlike the idea some people have that heaven is what you want it to be: that you create it, deal with it, live with the consequences maybe forever. That’s why people were always writing about New York, singing about it, dreaming about it, talking about it, trying to rationalize it. It kept going because no one could ever quite figure it out. Everyone else’s description, once you heard it, left you confused and self-conscious because it didn’t completely match your own.

New York didn’t have its own meaning. It had meaning put upon it. The city possessed no identity beyond the concrete, steel, bricks, and dog shit. No soul to speak of, material or otherwise. Just the heavy velvet curtains at the Metropolitan Opera and the glazed dark tabletops of Soho and the hairy-lush lawn in Central Park, all onto which we spat our own stories as if from an old movie projector, and did it in such a thick constancy that to walk around the block was to walk through a thousand other people’s holograms. No wonder we were wired and tired. No wonder we ignored the crazy people on the subway, as tourists and babies gawked. They weren’t saying anything we weren’t thinking already.

All of us were philosopher-scientists, each with her own Theory of New York (which, some suggested, we should rename Higgs Boson City in light of its behavioral characteristics). There was nothing like consensus, no possibility of consensus on the matter, not with ten million opinions. This is blue! You shouted. This is my blue. This is the only blue. But for all your insisting, no one else saw the same shade. And, by the next moment, it was likely that you’d change your mind anyway. After seeing something beautiful or bizarre on the next street corner, you shapeshifted New York again two minutes later.

Paris could be Paris. That was a part of its shtick. But New York could be Paris too, and then Delhi, and then Shanghai if you willed it with your feet, your cab fare, with your senses and your subway pass. You learned not to trust it, after a while, and therefore you learned you couldn’t trust yourself. You moved to New York and then five or ten or twenty years after, you paused to count the years and realized that none of them had been spent in the same city, and where the fuck had you been?

Gary He

Gary He

The Questions I Should Have Been Asking

We sink our hands into the sands of life together

letting everything that has been forming for millions of years

surround us coolly, filling in as if it had been waiting for the tips

of our fingers which together form a key to the center of the earth.

Twist them this way, then that,

the deeper we go the more treasure there is.


And Then We Finally Understood Love

She choose him and in
Choosing him she chose the
Sweetness over what was bitter.
With him everything was better.

So their love moved toward
The center of all, pulling together until it
Became so dense and small
And packed tight with devotion
That it exploded.

after a pause,
the cooled nothing space of this creation
turned gracefully to stars.

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Sh 2-106, or S106 for short. This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the surrounding gas cloud’s hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is coloured blue in this image.