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.

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.’

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.