Divination Map for Lost Boys
The sofa cushions? Never mind.
Whatever change you find should have happened
years ago. As for the wishing-well gods,
forgetaboutit—he’s never going to fit
in your pocket slick as a guitar pick tortoiseshell true.
Peter advised second star to the right
and straight on till morning and I have a hunch
that’s where your lover went
but maybe is lost between a clutch
of stars bordering Ursa Major or Tinkerbell’s spell.
Remember that girl who could divine
the future from fish guts floating in a bowl?
Viscera pretty as a sunset or offal is awful?
Have you considered boiling the head of a donkey?
No, I guess it’d make an ass out of you and me.
So much depends on flicks from a candle flame,
freckles on skin, cigar ash or the splattering issued
from a good sneeze. Necromancy is of course the creepiest—
keep a few corpses around and your future is set,
but is he even worth it? By mineral, by bone, by Ouija
(James Merrill’s The Changing Light of Sandover
was ghost-written by Ouija), by fig leaves, dust
or needles; even the angles of geese, pig bladders
or random ravings of lunatics, my personal favorite
I don’t mind saying. Chance encounters
with animals are most popular among poets,
particularly if they’re American Indian.
Who hasn’t attended to the shouts of blackbirds
or exposed one’s soul to the whistling elk at Yellowstone?
I’ve received gifts of tarot cards and books
on I Ching and once walked into a restaurant
bathroom to find a woman reading another’s
palm when she could have just as easily read
the splash of urine into the toilet. There’s a name
for that—urimancy, swirling water in a cup.
By trees, by opening the dictionary, by patterns
of bees, seek and you shall find. Seeds in bird
excrement, looking over one’s shoulder,
particulars of objects found on the road,
it all has meaning, it all leads somewhere, fantastical
or perverse— even cheese for chrissakes,
even spindles and snail tracks. But Darling,
you won’t find him there. I know I’ve tried.
You won’t find him in the cracks formed
by the heat on a turtle’s shell. You won’t find him
in oracle bones. I’ve been there. I once saved
toenail clippings and facial hair and made up
a ritual involving purple juice and the burning of sage.
A conjure map? Sure, why not, go ahead, give it a shot.
Anything to hook or snatch, or snag—
Tick, tock, tick, tock, so goes the crocodile.
You won’t find him in lost shoes or the mold
on old bread. Not eggs or teeth or the howling of dogs.
Clouds seem transparent, an easy puzzle,
but beware disruption by jets. Labiomancy?
To foretell by lips? You could ask your best friend.
Anthomancy, the plucking of flowers;
he loves me, he loves me not. Seriously?
One in a million, stranger things have happened,
you’ve heard them all. Never say never, right?
Remember that penny? God. The one with his birth date,
his lucky penny left on my kitchen counter.
I glued it to my forearm and wore it like that
for a month. But did I ever find him? And that other
one, I still have the gauze left over from the day
he gave blood, along with the black gloves
stolen from his book bag. Gone. Still gone. Lost.
You’ve stumbled upon and happened upon—
spider webs, squirrel poop and seashells.
Russian girls slept with mirrors under pillows
to foretell the faces of future husbands.
Dice, onions, cups. Mistletoe, oil, beans.
Interpreting laughter, interpreting stomach gas.
Who will be the new King? Wait for which
horse neighs at sunrise. Hate your mother?
Visit a Freudian to read your dreams.
You could listen to what yolks tell you,
will he, or won’t he? Where the hell is he?
You could seek answers in the coiling
and uncoiling of snakes if you can stand it.
Sooth-saying by rose petals, poems in books.
Keep it simple, advised the stranger on the plane
to Denver—she was a goofy new-ager
who nitpicked me to death: don’t drink
diet soda; I can see the aspartame in your aura,
said after three whiskeys, I’m fifty!
Can you believe it? Just look at me!
Keep it simple, Darling, you’ll find him. I did.
Author Discusses Poems