I get up to the old thus-and-so game
every now and then, and my old lady
starts carving out a new home in the
black hills of South Dakota, which is
my cue to high-tail it back to Alabama
with a dimebag on my knee to find a
replacement for our dear old dog Fancy
who took a bullet meant for me last year.
“Bring me back something nice!” my old
lady shouts at me as I drive away from my
broken home full of broken dreams and
promise myself, this time, I won’t fuck up.
Two poems in one day? Who do I think I am?!?!
I smoked a whole bowl
of ground-up teeth and it
made me think of licorice
nights when you and I
co-mingled with deadly
dares and stared point
blank into eclipsing suns
while the band played a lazy
version of “Sympathy for
the Devil,” the only Stones
song you ever liked, and I
held your shaking hands,
saying, “One day, we’ll find
the time to love each other.”
“What’re you obsessed with?” she asked
before her her mouth melted away and
time, having lost all its stitches, unraveled.
I thought of a dozen lies, some of which
made me quite proud, but I opted to tell
the truth, though her ears had long since gone.
But when did that occur? There was no way
to tell anymore, and that was for the best,
given the terrible weight of the world and
the failed dreams of everyone, not the least her.
Was it prophecy that made you cry?
Was it exiled tongues and luxurious bloodbaths?
The hills ringing with the screams of sons
stolen in the night and you, like Grendel’s mother,
running toward that awful sound, recalling
your newborn’s cry, that silver fulcrum on which
your heart first broke? No…the truth is harder
than that, offering the kind of hard clarity
that follows death or after a lover, seeking newness,
sheds you like an old coat, disappears into another life.
What then, Anna? What is left for us, poets without
a homeland, men and women saved from the fire
only to be drowned in the icy river? What is beautiful
now that voices are silenced again and hatred springs
from the head of a malignant Zeus? Would you save us
or would you smile and tell us to fight our own battles?
I long to see you in the doorway of The Stray Dog,
eye dark with promise, your lips like hot coals, and I’m
stuck in this time, breathing air that could spell my doom.
Save me a seat in that fabled café. I will find my way to you.
I have mixed greens for memory
and an old window for a mouth.
It’s expected for some people of
the older generation, like myself,
when the laws of attraction were
more rigid and a man could count
on times spent alone–a few months–
but not this hellish stretch of years,
time like an old rubber band that
once held newspapers together,
and all the headlines screamed:
MAN SPENDS FINAL DAYS ALONE.
It would be funny if it wasn’t true, I tell
my reflection, which wants nothing to
do with me and decides to vanish,
looking for another mirror to haunt,
hoping beyond home it wont be another
selfish, long-in-the-tooth bastard like me.
She gave birth to a baby
missing his third eye but
with remarkably imitative skin–
as he grew, he often looked
like Rock Hudson or Rex
Harrison or Clark Gable
(though his mother wasn’t a fan,
thinking Clark Gable looked like
a well-dressed monkey), always
morphing into men from Hollywood’s
golden age, eschewing anyone new
all because his mother had gone
to pray at Forest Lawn and fallen
asleep and an unholy ghost had
overshadowed her, filling her with
life and deep sorrow as she murmured,
“I am the Handmaiden of The Hills,
be it done unto me according to thy
lustful will,” a fate set not so much
in stone as celluloid, stretching to
accommodate all the pain and beauty
splashed so recklessly across the screen.
Gather your courage and
deposit yourself into
the pocket of another man.
In that pocket, storms
rage, empires rise and fall,
and humanity balances
on the head of a pin, afraid
to dance, afraid of not dancing
and so exists in between worlds,
both incomplete, both paralyzed.
In the pocket of the first man,
there’s nothing remarkable.
The grass, you may be assured,
was most certainly greener, and
you will live what they call your
“best life” as long as that life
includes emotional black-outs
and the loss of what might be called
“hope” by lesser people…but don’t
worry about them… you’re right
where you should be, darling.
His grandmother poured salt into
his eyes and shipped him of to St. Alphonso’s
Home for Boys Blinded by Their Grandmothers
and there he flourished, rising to the
top of his class and deciding to stay
even after graduating, and so he never
knew the world, and the world was poorer for it.
I worry about the smallest of things
like the wound yesterday’s spider
incurred when it tumbled to the ground
and bent its leg backward and let out a tiny
spider moan that I somehow heard and knelt on
the floor and whispered, “I am so sorry
that happened, the world is a terrible place.”
I decided that an apron
wouldn’t do as I entered
the kitchen, so I wore your
recently-shed skin instead.
It didn’t really fit, but I
didn’t complain, and look,
what a nice soufflé I made!
Your new skin itched, but you
remained silent as a stone.
And so we ate, avoiding each
other’s gaze, as darkness fell.