Claire Donato


Address to California

                   for jj

The Romans, when purifying rooms with thyme, did not store thyme in bottles.  Instead, they held thyme in their palms, as I hold this thread or your mouth in my palm, after the sand but before the night flight to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thunder is caused by air expanding as lightning moves against the atmosphere.  I see skies ignite from the window: Location is lost. When we leave the beach, there is fog and no room for cars in the city.

Volume makes choosing the source of my sorrow impossible. A man with a clipboard offers a suggestion I refuse. His suggestion, he states, may change my entire life. The Las Vegas airport contains hundreds of slot machines. On the phone in the terminal… I move farther from you.

In a Pittsburgh bookshop's basement, there are books stacked in boxes soaked in water from a downpour. These boxes are bottles. I compile a list, mark it Damaged Books About Time.

My father, who traveled from Thailand last night, returned home to hail and the absence of light. Fifteen minutes earlier and the airport would have closed, he says.  The rosebush was not destroyed. This afternoon, in front of the bookshop, a man falls in love with a used copy of Stendhal's Memoirs of a Tourist.

Destroyed: The History of Autumn, Fishes and Corals, a twelve-volume set of texts written by Christopher Morley.

It is possible I am inventing a history in which words are interchangeable and based solely on your neck and lips and shoulders.  In this case, the walls of rooms are flushed, and our skin is red. Drain the bathtub. Lie with me.





You Left Photographs

of swan feathers, sailboats—the lake in Chicago where, after you threw the baseball in
            its water, you were strings of blue and bloody. Can I erase
            the past twelve months? A postcard hangs

as artwork on my wall. Last night, it rained inside the Marriott. I kissed a blonde named
            Betsey—her slender, shiny legs. You played Minnie Mouse. Dusting the kitchen
            counter. Are broomsticks why

you fear your father? Why you're costumed,
            furious? How can I sleep another night? How
            can I sleep with you, you appearing, re-appearing






By the 1850s, nostalgia was losing its status as a particular disease and became casually referred to as "cutting," a condition of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Wikipedia allows its user to enter clusters of information that are unruly and despondent.   Anyone can have a Wikipedia page, but hey are you fucked if someone decides to rip off all of its longings. Wikipedia will take you into the painted bedroom with its sadistic, secondary partner. The painted bedroom is the community place.  Think of it like a band or a commune.  Think of rearing your children this way: with scissors.


there is a sewing kit under my skin that embroiders patches on my
arm according to the time of day it takes a shape mass of

skin that if
i run my nails around turns in-
to a swollen um-

brella oh how it swells! opens up

there is a sewing kit inside &
you could draw a screwdriver there or

shove one in    your skin         

When we get off the airplane we are in terminal
A though really we're trying to make it

To terminal B—the terminal is very small we walk through I say

Hey there's a role we can play on the bus to the terminal
B "I'm taking you to school," "I'm taking you to school…"

There was a person I used to sleep with.  She
was not a he though they self-identify as other. 

They came over last night because next
week they are moving away. I asked them where

they wanted to sleep. They said the floor. 
Like a sleepover!  They started on the floor.

…but later in the night, they climbed into my bed.

I was asleep but felt a leg followed by some traditionally ambiguous genitalia.
I know this kind of thing happens to me all of the time:

One minute there is a person on my floor and the next they are writhing in my bed. 

I am a very understanding person. I understand my feelings regarding
the other sex: what is engulfing is, in its purest fundamental, warmly beckoning. 

Even when I am sleeping


there is a sewing kit under my skin
there is a sewing kit / under my skin
there is a sewing under my      skin
there is a sewing under                        my skin

ok so we have 4 options…ONE) we can be
friends (side note a friend is weary of the word just as
it implies imposing restriction or TWO: we can be friends
who do this as we please isn't this dangerous hmm

THREE we can engage in an "open relationship." by this
i mean you commit to nobody but me but we run this
under the impression that 

FOUR we become decidedly monogamous. which is like number
THREE in the first place, only dangerous. Dependency

The couple walking outside the window looks content; elated, even. When they come into the store where you work & ask for guidance to the children's books, it may be beneficial to think of them in the bedroom, for example. He probably has some fantasy of being beaten.  She may beat him, or if that's not for her, allow a friend to do so. This is why they want a copy of Where the Wild Things Are. So that she might cut out the illustrations. So that she may stitch them to his skin

One might consider spending time with someone else the antithesis of "loving." 
For example, a back massage.  For example, a nap.  At this point, one might
not stop to consider the implications of vision.

We structure ourselves in ways that appear monogamous in order
to fool ourselves into thinking we are monogamous.  Monogamy
is a mnemonic device, like the process of ascribing or attributing

names in relation to people and places.  Take Andrew Carnegie,
who exploited his workers, established a few  libraries, married
a young woman after his mother died, then

bought a house for his male secretary.
I was told his story. I was told "He was gay! Gay! Gay!" and knew
I was recalling based upon the response in my mind.

When the mind furies, it may or may not be recollecting. 
It may or may not be attempting to unweave
that remembrance which has become a rich part of life, but when

does remembrance become constriction? We are
always inside of the walls: we want to know others—we want to
be lost outside ourselves.  Observe

me, the smooth-legged man reclining at the foot of the bed