picture and picture of my bare pubescent bodies blur
a tanned and pink magic lantern show
sick stomachs flat or deep
and all my numbered ribs marked off
one when I was nineteen,
between my two hips
a third protrusion
green body deformed in that ancient way
looked in the mirror and felt sick
so I took a picture
in it the curve is hard low heavy
not soft with piss
sour and buttermilk
much too not enough curdles in me
slender black snake from cunt to ankle
white pus pours from the wounds I was born with
the candle said I’m
hard low heavy
none of it dew
yellow amniotic caul
and no baby
snow-ring indicates a death this winter
you came home with a ring on your keychain
just a shiny silver ring, Venus upside-down without her crucifix
it was wrapped around your finger like a solid black armband.
a rabbit’s foot against black ice and blizzards
we could have used it at the bottom of our trench in the hillside
where our bare feet forced the clutch to take,
where we ran ourselves off the road--
but that is not our custom.
lucky charm evoked when the disaster has passed
and now it’s hanging from your keychain
and I can’t help but wonder who it’s imitating
College and Walnut
Cracked against the ground or the roof
Or the windshield:
Black walnuts, green on the outside
Glistening poisonous pith
Spilling happily out of its skull
Four hours on the beautiful highway
HELL IS REAL
It’s not Kentucky but that was a nice touch, anyway.
Every other billboard drew us into the lion’s den
Wasn’t there supposed to be a stone in front of that tomb?
All that for one crateful
Precious black walnuts, green on the outside
Boiling into acrid piss on the electric stovetop
In the incorruptible blue dutch oven
You and me were soldier-stanced, staring
Through the window at the hawaiian-printed front seat
A mercury key glared back at us
From behind the locked car door
There’s a twin blade razor cut right down the middle of town
Unconfused cicatrix among random slashing scars
Like tally-marks on a ribcage
Only they go one way in both directions
And they don’t cross themselves like mom says they should
Two lines cut in the earth like the lines on a young man’s face
I think one of them led to where you found the dog
We won’t pass that way again
To the sacred deep square cut-out limestone
Pools of hungry water reeking like those walnuts
Green on the outside
Sleeping under earth with miles of mire above Hand
A split sleeve spills out its arm next to a gloved hand.
A tire’s crunch takes black heed of the red-rubbed stone
That blinks beneath a hole shot through a dove’s hand
For what is a body outside its beloved skin?
A snarling rot--better to be a shoved hand
Into cotton casing like a lady’s glove whose
Seams pinch tight around the suggestion of Hand
I am not clay fed to life; I am a mud man
Plucked up whole and beating by God’s rough hand
Flight of the Starlings
I saw an omen grinning up at me
From the bottom of my cup
Little dried-up pine needles
Swimming in perfect geometry
Buzzing against the skin of my eyes
And I held in gentle hands
A cupful of the grey sky
With one great wobbling drop of molten metal swirling inside
I was two pupils punched into the place where my face ought to be
the sky got bigger above my head
all those flittering wings one square of static
Black shadows passed in mathematical spirals and weird discs
Maddeningly slow and orderly
that random drone humming in every direction was a comfort
Reminded me that my feet were still on the ground
When fishes swarmed through me
still water growing thick
Evenings, I slithered past the porchlights,
crept into the quiet like a possum into a garbage truck.
I remember the van rumbling loudly to life
and me hushing it: not even the fog lights lit.
The night sky, slow and heavy as magma,
crouched over me when I sat in the driver’s seat,
pressing red bruises into the peel of a peach:
enticing red bruises on my cheeks.
Then the crush of bodies and salt and filth--
that tempest of sharp elbows and slavering tongues,
of skulls twisted into nautilus shells
hurtling endlessly inward.
I sank into their decay.
Revelled in the rattle of cracker-crumbs at the top of my lungs
then gasped in hot air, muggy and sickening as the air inside my house.
And it was all of a sudden as if I had never left;
as if I’d stolen away with a fifth of Jack Daniels between my knees
only to arrive at the same old unbreachable rift:
Her and I almost overlapping on one side
and that wide stretch of horizon on the other,
with everyone I knew standing on it.
Skin starts peeling at the treeline.
Sloughing off in great sheets
When the limbs overlap in lattices;
Keeping off the atmosphere.
You’ll never find a snakeskin in the garden,
But the forest is another matter entirely.
Soon, its rough flesh will begin to grate
And you’ll glow redly
And learn to wind between the bent-together bodies
Then, to the quick--
And when there is pulp
Clinging to the tree trunks,
You’ll find there is nothing in your pockets
But loose soil
And those tricky
That you thought you’d thrown away
Sunset at the Beach
I imagined then, those sharp filaments of sensation
should have come tingling back to my finger-tips
and punching through my chest.
But all that I felt
was the kick-back throwing my hat off
and the sun in my eyes
like an accusation.
I turned around and walked home.
the sun was a red hole falling at my back.
glare glowing hot on my neck;
made my shadow bleed black
and stretch into a corridor, which beckoned me
to sink into it without a trace—
and it was as if I had struck four sharp knocks
against the door of misfortune.
Low Speed Collision
Then his finger-bones were dug in and grabbing between my jaw.
Then I was knocking against the door, the plaster wall--him.
I was spinning out,
barely scraping the pavement,
like a speeding tire on that wet country road;
with him circling wildly through my mirrors--
he, the telephone pole,
for a split second promising to give me what I was wanting.
I never could decide whether I was grateful that he was such a lousy shot.
I stood turned to the wall—white, dirty, an inch away from my hot skin. If I had dared give my back to that wall, the street would have whirred on around me—as in a tunnel of mirrors: nothing clear, nothing clear.
I leaned down and hid my hot face, sighed fast into the painted stucco. Passers by passing by, flaring loud and shorting out the scanners. Heart pounding at a friendly smile around the butt of a cigarette, a questioning thumbs up, and maybe that was a joint. I walked fast back to the main road.