--I’VE LEARNED TO LET WORDS FLY PAST ME
Everything conspires, even the moon.Yes, especially her.
You tell me how she watches you undress
an indiscreet voyeur not to be trusted.
You call me a stranger’s name and slap
the hand I raise to touch your face.
“Fresh!” you say, as irony smirks.
Your eyes, once blue as cobalt,
are a burned-down field now,
years and memories gone to ash.
Insidious, one book called it, aptly so,
the disease that has foiled our future.
But I’ll be here with you, alien or not,
as I always have.
There’s no longer a kiss in your eyesYour lips are always moving,
Like a stalled escalator
While your mouth shapes syllables that
No hacker has ever deciphered
Here’s my hand, my palm
Write something on it or
Draw a picture, tap out a code
Anything to let me know you’re here
You are remembering a pet goatThe bell around its neck sounding like
The jingling noise the door made at Storm Lake Grocery
So old man Miller would be alerted to customers
“Old man, Miller, he was sweet on me,” you say.
“He gave me free candy. He touched me once.”
I try to explain that your mind’s become a shifting bridge
But you’re as lucid as ever, insisting,
“He touched me where he shouldn’t have
And at his funeral,” you say,
“I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Siblings and Spiders
I know it’s spring because the spiders are backHanging from my window
So many of them
Gauzy gray Post-It notes taped everywhere
Suspended midair like window washers on the side of
My brother ate one once, a spider that is,
On a dare from our oldest sibling
He chewed and swallowed and opened wide afterward
Thought that would earn him respect
For once when all it created was ridicule
Now we’re seated in an anteroom
Away from the closed casket
The meal is sloppy joes on stale buns
We eat in silence, chewing, chewing,
Not knowing what to say or
How to properly mourn
What are words if not crude weapons,machetes and pick axes?
Our daughter shows us the messages.
I WISH YOU WOULD KILL YOURSELF ALREADY.
YOU’RE A PIG AND YOU LICK IT.
What to say then,
about the black hearts of angry teens?
How to speak of forgiveness
and moving forward?
Why averting your eyes is sometimes
The best course.
We take turn plucking hairs from our headsUntil there’s enough to stuff pillows
Then come our brows and whiskers, pubic hair
Dermis is next, peeling it off in sticky sheets
We break bones and gnaw on each other’s marrow
This in a room with a mahogany table
A stack of forms and lawyers who record it all
Shame sticks to you like tarThat even a blowtorch cannot eradicate
And in the morning though the sun is wide-eyed
You pull the curtains and duct tape the slits
Your mattress is a hole a cavern a crooked tunnel
You fall down several hundred feet
There is no bottom or escape
You try calling out but your voice
Only boomerangs against walls of nothingness
And it’s not until the flamethrowers grow weary
And the catapults are wheeled away
That you crawl on knees inch by inch
Open a door and see him standing there
Not disappointed in the slightest to be
The person you once were
And can still be