…Let the colored waters drip
between our open veins;
let the pinwheels spin
while the cargo slips out of sight
and the caboose transports the night
on its back and the full moon in you
races down the waterwheel
into the waiting pool of my lips
and all I can do is put another quarter in
and watch the world turn again…
I’ve had just about enough.
The rattling of my car’s heat shield
against the rattling of my brains
cobbled together with failing adhesive.
Driving home from another government office.
The same songs on Spotify; I’m discovering weakly
that I can’t trust victory. A motor oil bottle leaking
onto rags on the carpet; corn chips on the floor.
The smell of defeat.
One step forward, two steps back;
my heart reminds me it’s planning an attack.
A chime from the woman who sends me snakes;
all of my lovers live far away…
I’m walking down the street with my trouser hems burning.
I used to try to shake them out, and obviously,
the flames only rose.
I stopped trying to stop, drop and roll;
stopped trying to jump in puddles
and I’ve learned long since to ignore the stares
when getting on buses.
Sometimes it gets on my fingers, my lips,
and I catch things on fire that I touch. It’s tough,
but I’ve learned to live with it,
with the smell of burning that sends people running
every time I enter a room.
I don’t remember how it all started.
Maybe, like Centralia, it started with a vein of carbon
inside my brain that caught fire, that no one could quench…
This was this place we’d go, every Wednesday
when I was off work—and it was just this tiny portable
you fastened safely against me,
babbling meaningfully to yourself,
and the airplanes:
from this hill with a winding path,
across the river from Chelsea and its oil drums.
I knew you understood things then,
and had chosen to be here now, in this place
where the only thing I had to give you was me,
and these things I curated through eyes
that saw for you until you learned what to see…
You know you can’t stay here.
Every heaven on earth has its fall from grace.
Every rhythm eventually breaks.
Someday, you too
will get that deployment call,
maybe in the night, when the kids are still sleeping.
You’ll pack your belongings, but not all of them.
You’ll leave behind memories and a history
and start off in some unknown land,
where no amount of explaining
will unveil your stranger’s cloak of invisibility…
…He drew a line in black ink,
squiggling around shapes
of buildings, people, trees.
I followed it around the corner,
curious where it would lead.
I followed it all the way into the subway.
Sometimes I drew things back.
The city opened around me
like the glass teeth of a mosaic dragon
breathing smoke and the fires of sunsets
between buildings. their underground organs
pumping and hissing with hydraulic precision.
…Somewhere in another house,
someone’s eating dinner.
Someone finished their homework.
Someone’s practicing guitar
and I interrupted him but he doesn’t mind.
He teaches me the chords
to “Message in a Bottle.”
Voices far away
cut through static.
I want to eat the sounds
of humans being alive…
They circle and buzz around you,
these others you don’t touch.
You’re told to stay in your circuit
and cache yourself in your niche;
catch yourself on the precipice
of your words, before they speak
Because that would mean collisions—
or so you’re told.
Descent and burning,
the pain of gravity and magnetic poles…
The fluorescent lights in Rite-Aid
cheerfully pummel my senses. It’s 4pm
in the Quabbin milltown, in this January where the sky
holds tightly to its snow-stash.
I’m here buying laxatives, because it’s come to that:
everything is backed up. The government’s shut down,
my spinal cord’s frozen, peristalsis is a memory.
Even the clouds are stingy now…