--I WANT TO BE THE THING THAT HOLDS US TOGETHER
The Steady Drip
I’d been brave for onceSaid something sharp to Mickey Purcell
Whose Dad used to burn cigarettes on him
Mickey always with a split lip and snarl
Spun me around in the school hall
Slamming my head against a concrete wall
At home I kneeled down
On the lawn puking yellow
The migraines came after that
Anything setting them off
The steady drip of a faucet
The Baker’s gurgling fish tanks
Concentrating too hard
Mom’s remedy was a chiropractor
After I went but continued to throw up
Hand numb, a sky of pinprick dots
Flooding my vision
Mom said Well that
Was a waste of eighteen dollars.
One day weRenamed ourselves
Starting with the firsts
Then moving to
The tantalizing lasts—
Smith, Jones, Washington,
anything but our own.
we made ourselves
Rich, handsome and bold.
At dinner that night
We kneed each other
Under the table
And actually giggled.
Mom slammed a fork,
asked, What’s so funny?
Goddamn it, what?
No one would lie so I did
The only time I was
Smart enough to save us.
Mom is a clumsy bootlegger who hasrun out of excuses, run out of men,
run out of children who feel safe around her.
Dad is a palsied gunslinger who has
missed the bullseye, missed the perched beer can,
missed everything he aimed at, but us.
We are taxidermied plush toys who have
learned how to lie, learned how bear pain,
learned that frauds are sometimes genuine, as well as evil.