It’s been a long time since my body. Unbearable, I put it down on the earth the way my old man rolled dice. It’s been a long time since time. But I had weight back there. Had substance & sinew, damage you could see by looking between your hands & hearing blood. It was called reading, they told me, too late. But too late. I red. I made a killing in language & was surrounded by ghosts. I used my arsenal of defunct verbs & broke into a library of second chances, the E.R. Where they bandaged my head, even as the black words kept seeping through, like this. Back there, I couldn’t get the boys to look at me even in my best jean jacket. It was 2006 or 1865 or .327. What a time to be alive! they said, this time louder, more assault rifles. Did I tell you? I come from a people of sculptors whose masterpiece was rubble. We tried. Indecent, tongue-tied, bowl-cut & diabetic, I had a feeling. The floorboards creaked as I wept motionless by the rehab window. If words, as they claimed, had no weight in our world, why did we keep sinking, Doctor—I mean Lord—why did the water swallow our almost human hands as we sang? Like this.
brushing my teeth at 2 in the morning I say over my shoulder you guys you guys I’m serious what are we going to make of this mess my voice muffled with wintergreen foam what are we going to do now that it hurts when I look at those I love like you two you who have been through so much together the thick & thin the skin of it I’m proud of you both I say as the foam pinkens through my lips I’m told our blood is green but touches the world with endings my name a place where I’ve waited for collisions you guys are you listening I’m sorry for being useful only in language are you still with me I ask as I peer into the tub where I placed them gently down the two white rabbits I had found on harris st the way back from Emily’s where we watched American Dad! on her mom’s birthday her mom who would have been 56 this year we ate rocky road in bowls with blue tulips I’m too tired she said to be this happy & we laughed without moving our hands perhaps the rabbits are lovers or sisters sometimes it’s hard to tell sex from breathing earlier I had scooped them from the pavement they were crushed but only kinda one had a dented half-face the other’s back flattened like a courage sock I cradled them wetly in my sweatshirt but now the tub is a red world save for the silent island of fur flickering in my fugitive words guys just wait for me alright just wait a while longer you guys I swear I’ll take us home I’ll leave this place spotless when I’m done I say reaching back to my wisdom teeth forgetting it’s been 4 years since they were gone
I’ll tell you how we’re wrong enough to be forgiven. How one night, after
mother, then taking a chainsaw to the kitchen table, my father went to kneel
in the bathroom until we heard his muffled cries through the walls.
And so I learned that a man, in climax, was the closest thing
Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green
in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
like a sparrow stunned
Dusk: a blade of honey between our shadows, draining.
I wanted to disappear — so I opened the door to a stranger’s car. He was divorced. He was still alive. He was sobbing into his hands (hands that tasted like rust). The pink breast cancer ribbon on his keychain swayed in the ignition. Don’t we touch each other just to prove we are still here? I was still here once. The moon, distant & flickering, trapped itself in beads of sweat on my neck. I let the fog spill through the cracked window & cover my fangs. When I left, the Buick kept sitting there, a dumb bull in pasture, its eyes searing my shadow onto the side of suburban houses. At home, I threw myself on the bed like a torch & watched the flames gnaw through my mother’s house until the sky appeared, bloodshot & massive. How I wanted to be that sky — to hold every flying & falling at once.
Say amen. Say amend.
Say yes. Say yes
In the shower, sweating under cold water, I scrubbed & scrubbed.