96

How do you tell
A dead woman
Her daughter is dead?

Buried in Binghamton, West Virginia and Pennsylvania
It’s Monday again, and her daughter is dead,
We eat rice cakes in the kitchen,
I’ll be your daughter.

Walter’s dead, Walter is dead,
To the noose!
Don’t you wish you were dead,
Baby? You don’t get to pick your mama
Or your daddy, and I cry to think about it.

You don’t even know me, baby. Nobody knows you
And you can’t know me either, her fish mouth,
Red lips kissing orange juice, just like the carton
I remember mom poured on dad’s head in ’96.

Even if Walter is dead, the daughter is dead,
I could still be your daughter, I don’t want
To live in Arizona, I smell apple cinnamon
Rice cakes in her kitchen, her teeth rifle
The cakes, loud as sirens in Arizona in ’96 when
Dad took me there and ate up at least three thousand
Of someone else’s money.

You can’t replace Walter or my daughter,
Baby, I wish you’d stop bothering me.
Her eyes are glossed over like a cheap marble
All fucked up, in hell, do they only let you eat
Rice?

They don’t let the bad poets in hell,
God likes the sonnets, dull sublunary lover’s love,
A spot for seuss, the rhyming sounds
Like an angel singing,
Maybe, she’s crying
In my kitchen, knowing her daughter is dead, knowing
She’s dead, too, a noose around her neck, no, it’s a big one,
Just too old to keep it going for me,
Her eyes as bright as her box dye hair, the joking voice,
a gesture I love steamrolled me, her skin waxed out, only her
Mouth left, last words? She says
Winter will keep her warm
in hell.

Ruth Comes To Me (in a dream)

She always does.
Long red hair like the sun or crayon blood moon,
Eyes milked over shaking like a tea kettle, a jacket made out of fish
scales, eyes wider than any moon you’ve ever seen, I promise.

She says she comes to my dreams
Most when I am trapped inside my home
A marble trying to fit
The outside world in,
I want to call her mama – thinking she’d understand, I wouldn’t
Put my head in the oven, but America put me inside now.

Mama, the world is a wound
And you saw it always saw it, and I feel
Too scared now that I’ve seen it too.

Ruth is smiling now as big as the sky, big teeth next to the sun, her
Voice louder than the tv, but I can’t hear.

Her blood moon hair is wrapped around me, pulling me
Up to the sky, I don’t want to go to the sun, I say. I cry like a baby.

Mama twists me out of her longest hair, and places me in her hands,
Still young, painted red fingernails, she’s the red woman now.

Things will be different, her voice is a whisper now, it’s our
Secret, me and mama.

Now I sit alone in my rented apartment. The cat on my lap,
No victory on tv, just sadness like mama sad, no more laughing kids
outside, a galaxy broke but we did it to our selves, but I think of
Mama, I think mama was right,
When the sun dies,
We will all become one.

Baby, America

You stand in the middle of the rain,
Tornado-hair, big lips like Mrs. Celebrity.
I thought I could see your heart
Outside your pink-white peach chest,
Rub my eyes, you stopped drinking wine
Since the bird babies fell from the sky
Like an m night shyamalan film that was actually
Good this time.

I thought I could see your heart
Outside your pink white chest,
Rub my eyes, you touch my fingernails
Say its the softest part of new york
Did you forget about the bee wings?
I drink hot red wine while the birds fall
From a sky, Tarantino will make 2 mil
Off my thoughts and I won’t see one
Penny.

I got stuck inside someone else’s mind,
It is the fake sunshine serotonin, smile
But a smile like britney spears. We know she’s
Not well, but we hold her up to the sky, shining
I know she doesn’t want to.

You stand in the middle of the hurricane,
Big blue eyes so scared like Mrs. America.
I knew I saw your heart
Outside your pink chest,
Kiss me, baby, before the metal birds fall from the sky
Before britney cries again, I say, i love you
But it sounds so sad like an angel far away
God god god
God, you made it all so hard, the big cold metal
Bullets, i don’t care for the kids dying of cancer,
But you know, god wouldn’t do this
Stop. columbine destroyed us all, hollywood did it too, metaphorically of course
Unless you got the bullet, then it’s real, it’s real, it’s real.
only the clock god will say, it’s your turn for the bullet, it’s real for you
for the tv, looks so pretty, makes good tv, you’ll make good tv.
celebrity.

CALL ME BARBARA

You said it was always easiest this way,
your way, roses in your eyes- no, it’s the big cloud
hanging over Hiroshima. A heart of gold glass, heart eyes
like nuclear summertime. We call you Fallout in wintertime,
listen, I got my eyes growing from the ground, thinking we all need to start somewhere. Me, I’m middle earth. I ask you how it could be so
hot in the middle of home, melted glimmer gloss on the glass window, when it shatters
I say, I hope it shines like barbie’s dream Home.
Inside Home, I feel her crying, a big balloon blown up so big, an explosion
might do her some good, they keep on giving her that white glass to keep her
cold in core. Heart eyes, I think Home could be somewhere else. A boat treading water in the middle of a glass red sea, I beg I don’t want to sleep in water.

You said, it’s the only way,
your way, boat eyes, the big white one! It’s you!
Watch me spin around in this dress made
up of fire flies, can’t catch you yet, big one.
Bit at the knee makes the gold glass shatter, Heart eyes,
Big one, look at me! I’m neon white, a billion bees quake in my heart space,
doctor won’t let apiaries grow up in an aorta.

Look Home, It’s neon white in night time, stolen wrist watch time. Turn the sand upside down, backwards, whatever you got to do, meet Columbus in the glass sea, bit at the knee, get him before he gets you.
Her aorta as big as the core in middle earth, neon white heat escaping from those big heart eyes. Your liquid voice underneath the Home door, whispers loud as bee buzz, pollinating the glass floor cracks,
‘smile baby, the world ain’t so bad.’

THE SKY DID FALL

Was it always bluebirds?
Upside down, a paradise
left golden hot red?

Could it be the fur
on the belly of a rabbit?
The deep glow of an iris
tie died blue green together.

Creek of the grasshopper
outside the blue window,
clementine sun-sky
sometime early morning,
humming iridescent opal
hanging on its side, the deep
blue dark night time, the leonids did call
for you, the bees asleep in their cribs, the buzzing,
it’s you, deep dark voice like night time,
paradise golden, the big boom of the sky falling
for november, just like Lincoln saw too, baby moon
the sun burns hot red, your feet
burned, bluebirds singing,
tied together, the sky does not shatter,
the big bloom of the circle sky opals,
the leonids did call on you, me, tied together.

 

(how to) Continue On (the moon)

You never looked like the moon
Had I always been good at turning the conversation
upside-down to me, about me?
I get so ashamed that Ashbery is sitting on a table
covered in wax, he says something about big bad hollywood, the parallel
universe of tiny baby little new york,
a big tree covered in yellow acorns, he reads my poetry
and he thinks it’s funny, the bad kind of funny louis ck present-day, the cackle squad, always invoking
his echo, he will say.
You never looked like the moon?
A big crater in the space-sky, backlit by somebody else’s
flashlight, why would anyone want to look like the moon he asks,
as if I am supposed to know, am I supposed to know?
Are you proud of what a moon sees of you, tiny new york?
He asks me once, until he is melted all the way through to bone, his mouth
waxed out of his own face, tiny puddled fingers, a body stew, wax everywhere now
even on the moon.

Toxic – Or, An Imagination of What The Sun Looks Like When She is Exploding, Imploding

The sun is imploding, or does she
ex-plode like the core of a rat
twisting insides out?

It is the end
of something, sure of it.
She has turned herself
upside down to that Britney
song, outstretched like an ostrich’s
arm, reaching for the devil’s cup.

No, it wasn’t Britney-
when the core is frozen over,
they prescribe that American Idol
girl, that’s how they do it, too much ash –

It is time to turn on
the rope, it is the hum,
no, the purr of a mouse,
upstairs it is not the sun,
they decided her stinger would melt
in the white with the bees,
instead the grey collapses in, yellow
or the color of stone, the cat is waking up
the neighbors barking, it is the end of something,
sure of it, it is the sound of static, no –
she could talk to the moon, an old friend, heart is
so heavy like a bandaid, is it still buzzing, too much ash,
she’s toxic, she’s slipping, upside down under, the sun does explode,
they’ve decided on that, sure of it, no, it was Britney, sure of it, do her eyes still
look blue under the microscope, don’t be absurd, it’s all viscera now, whatever-
do we feel sorry for her now.

We Will All Dance

upside-down inside a vase filled with your
water, and when you speak, it will sound
like math, solve for x you will say
as if it has always been that easy, then we dance
and dance with your hair twirled around us
building us up like mummies without tombs,
let us out I will say and I will try to scream it too-
but it sounds like the bubbling of a tea kettle you
left on while you shower, mindless, always
mindless, but we keep dancing even with your hair
suffocating us now, the tea kettle screaming so quietly,
take a deep breath, you say, and we do, again again
until it is redness everywhere like a horizon squinting while
our lungs fill with red, your hair pivoting, bubbling
stops, screaming, fire out, turn off the shower, wet feet,
dripping, a match, slowly, easy, no, quickly- enough.
the redness everywhere with you squinting.

It Is Black Everywhere Now

I.

Mom is looking sad again-
I’ve got a bad back, she says
but she keeps working
at the restaurant even when it turns
to midnight, one am, two.
She makes lunch and tells
brother it’s iguana, he cries
he’d rather have chicken than iguana.
Mom thinks she’s funny even though she has the sad eyes
again.

Time to go to work says the brown eyes
that look like brothers eyes too.
He cries because she has to leave
mom don’t go
he says, two fingers running away through the holes
in the blue shirt.
When she escapes behind the big white door,
all brother can see is her hair
up in the butterfly clip again, hair like sand
if you’ve never seen sand before.

II.

She paints the walls pink like flamingos
upside down in ash. Brother runs inside,
slamming the big white door behind him
I want walls red like ketchup
he says.
Ok, you want walls red like ketchup.

Sad eyes washes brothers red hair in the tub
with the blue bucket and the yellow
stain sad eyes can’t scrub out.
you are my best friend right mama?
brother is afraid of everything now.

Yes I am your best friend,
brown eyes says when she drains the tub,
she sees black everywhere.

It smells like plastic when mom grabs the needle,
I don’t want to die mom
says brother.
Ok, so you won’t
she says.

Brother pinches the moon
between the index and the thumb
until it disappears on the car ride away
from the biggest white room-

you will be ok now
sad eyes says
even if it is a lie blown
up like a big balloon.

I will be your best friend forever
brother says
even if it is a lie small
like sand.

III.

Sad eyes has cigarettes
in her wrinkles now,
even when brother says
Time to quit now, time to quit,
time to.

Brother is on the floor
now, red over his face
when his body shakes
too hard that his head
forgets to come back up again.

you will be ok now
sad eyes says,
with a big white milkshake
and the plastic smell
shaking in her hands
again.

Sad eyes sits outside
plus one more wrinkle
plus one more shake
in her hands that she can’t shake
this time or the next time-
ok, time to go to work now.