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.

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I Know You Can Hear Me

You are the pilot of our rocketship
straight to the earth’s core. Me, I think we can
beat the heat, or hope Lehmann is wrong.

You say you’ve never been afraid of anything, I say
me too.

The best therapy is a bad idea,
but I spill my guts – it doesn’t work.

I am scared there isn’t cell
reception in hell, I’ll have to write a letter,
but the postage is too much from here
to there-

I think of myself in parallel universes,
there I am happy.

OTHERSIDE

I.

It is morning in your voice, I don’t like the way the otherside looks,
the desert has taken All of it.
I build myself big enough so you can see me from a moon, at least the outer layer
of earth, but you colonize mars and cannot see me.

II.

I am Arizona now, my air is hot, I say I am lost, you don’t
run closer, instead, you turn from the hot sun
burning your pale skin, I’m sorry. I imagine
Real Arizona does not feel so deserted, I’m sorry.

III.

What have I done now? It is the moonlight in your voice,
you pull your knees up, it is a waning gibbous. I am not
afraid of Time, I am afraid of your Time, the otherside of Time,
Columbus was not afraid of anything, and look what he has left us now.

I wipe my lipstick off with the back of my hand, a universe is subsiding, it is
someone else’s fault, I assume. Here, the bees are somewhat buzzing.
Here, someone is dealing out bad luck, here, I am too occupied
with blaming Bad Luck on someone else that is not me-
Here, you wouldn’t think of kissing me here. Arizona is gone now,
are you sorry.

I wake up from a dream where

I am the skee ball
champion of the world, but I spend all my winnings on spider
rings and finger traps, and you still don’t call me back.
It is very lonely being the skee ball champion of the world,
it is very hard because being the best at anything means there is no
room for failure, and I am very good at the failing part.

Hello, it’s me, I won it all. I’m the champion of it all.
I get free reign of the whole lot, the whole arcade, I could get you
in for free, I could get you lots of scented pencils.

But the line goes dead, so I decide instead, I will move to Cape Canaveral,
where astronauts pretend they don’t get homesick. I am on the moon,
or I am circling around a satellite and I can still pick you out from the lights
on the planet, even when you are very far.

Los Angeles is very far, but it seems the moon is closer than
California, because at least I can see it. I would build one hundred thousand apiaries
for you, so you could hear the buzzing from New York. Do you hear the buzzing?
But all the bees die out, in the winter, in the summer. The association warned me of that, too much bad luck, it will all die out.

Your voice buzzes in my ear in the Skylark diner in Juneau,
the light makes your eyes squint at the three in the morning.
I can’t make out what you are saying, instead, I pick up the phone and I call you.
You are sitting next to me and you ignore my call. Your voicemail mocks me,
can’t pick up the phone, buddy.

It is the fourth of July at the end of June,
and your spirit guide has committed suicide
to a Kelly Clarkson song, the bad song, they’re
all the very bad song. She looked like Stephen Hawking
without the ALS, but now she’s gone.

The sky flashes upside down, I want to tell you that everyday
feels like taco tuesday when I am around you,
but it doesn’t feel like the right time,
so you mourn Miss. Hawking. I tell
you to not worry, we can use my skee ball
winnings to find you a new guide. One with a better
head on her shoulders, one that won’t choose an American
Idol winner to hang herself to,
and it is the first time you speak here, and I hear you clearly,
even with the sky cutting into coral-clementine and the moon hanging by its side–

no.

Answer Me

Q: are you in love.

The lady in the chair
smiles big like it is her birthday
when I say my head feels like a balloon
that can’t explode.
“cool,” she says.

I am stuck in a maze,
the smallest mouse searching for the cheese,
the ring of the bell, the skinner box, ivan and frederic have conned us both.
I am misled by the 8-ball,
our horoscope has lied to me again, you should not be mine.

I grab out my heart and tell her
my lady, I am so sorry. She doesn’t hurt,
but she is too occupied with me, buzzing
like something other than a bee, not hibernating like a bear,
swimming like a toucan, submerged like our mouse – my mouse.
We’re going to have to lose her, too.

*

I have cut the tip of my finger off
with the longest blade over an onion,
the blood drops on mom’s white floor
and it is the rain that had fallen
on Tuesday.

My finger eats cotton. I put cotton in my mouth to hear the rain.
The black cat is not afraid of the rain, but she runs off the porch when I call her
here, kitty, do you know what it means, the Tuesday rain?

I tell the lady with the chair that it rained
on Tuesday, they said it wouldn’t.

“You are a hard worker, too hard, too much, too fast” she says.

I say, unfortunately, it feels as if I am inside of a soup can.
Ha-ha. I want to make her laugh because it is
the one thing I have left that I haven’t thrown
in the garbage, out the window, in the fire, under the bed,
with the ghosts, with the rain. What do we think about trying
for an exorcism?

Her smile would look best upside down, I think, the knife.
why aren’t you sad, lady on the chair.

Art smells like an oven upside down, out of the ash,
the end of a rope, the fish line broke, the spring, the hammer,
the catch, the holding bar —
the lady on top of the chair
is The best when she is suffering.

 

Q: are you in love
with the way someone makes you feel
about yourself

B RHYMES WITH SHE

I. Brigitte thinks she loves him.

Brigitte cannot love anyone.

I love him very much, thinks Brigitte.

Brigitte shortens her name to b.
It is a stylistic choice, b rhymes with she.

B. is sewing bras because that is what girls named b. do.
Girls like b. are good at one thing and one thing only
which is sewing bras.

I will make a very good housewife to him, thinks b.
she does not make a very good housewife to him.

II. He does not see b.
He sees b. only when she is not sewing bras and is not wearing anything at all.

He cannot love anyone,
I do not love b., thinks he.

III. They are married now, b. has won!

She really has won! It is so great to be b.

I am terribly happy, thinks b.
She is not terribly happy.

She is waking up now in the hills, the quite beautiful hills, the rolling hills are quite beautiful. Do you see the hills? They are green, the brightest green.

He is waking up now in the hills, the quite beautiful hills, the rolling hills are quite beautiful. He sees the hills. They are green, the brightest green.

We are married now, says b.
She says this to him because she is afraid he will forget.

He does not forget, though he wishes he could forget.

The hills are so beautiful, thinks b.

Palindrome

I.

I would not have married you if you asked.
You did not ask, and that upset me.

II.

Do you remember where you were
in 1992?

III.

Arizona is hotter
than you expected. The heat
gets on your bad side, I get on your bad side.

IV.

I had an excessive reaction that pierced
the surface of things.

V.

It is so hard to see
where you are now.

VI.

It is the time
you have hung yourself.

VII.

I sit in that rented home
filled with your agates.

Our daughters have no pity,
they do not see you here
from the vantage point
of your nuclear clearing.

They sit on top of ant hills,
staring at the sun thinking you are
up there
somewhere.

Indian Summer

I. The only thing that has died because of me were dandelions

You look like my mother. The way her face would turn upside down
when I thought of her dying.
You don’t have to die here – you’ve already done it.
Mom will come shortly after, too. She’s given into things that are bad for us.
She doesn’t change the lightbulb in the kitchen, she still forgets my birthday.

When I am small, I think mom will live f o r e v e r is a word that is made up of time that cannot exist. I try to find the beginning point, then pray to someone else’s upstairs neighbor that it does not end while I am standing
in line at the grocery store.

Mom doesn’t want to live forever, but I am seven years old.
You do not want to live forever, but she is two years old.

II. We saw you clock out before you did

Someone saw you for the last time in downtown Binghamton, said things were getting better, life is good, it could be worse and I am not doing worse.

There is a joke, not a knockknock joke, but a joke that goes like this:

Q: How do you know a junkie is lying to you?
A: He is still speaking.

III. You have negotiated time

There is a picture of a waterfall that hangs on its left side above you. Someone painted your face on upside down. The pastor stands on his toes; his brown old suit black tie does not mention black tar or your year long sabbatical inside or how you died alone surrounded by people who resembled black birds.

He looks at you, he sighs,
he’s never met you before until now. But he sighs,
oh god, we will always remember you. He sighs,
AMEN.

IV. It is summer in November, but only here

Your daughter sits on your first wife’s lap in a white dress, messed with licks of glitter and her mother cries. But she dances up and down, waves her legs, her arms follow soon like carbonated water shaking in its bottle.

The manufactured curls in her hair spin when she spins,
She does not have to think about f o r e v e r now
or the lightbubs in the kitchen
or her up and coming vulnerability to crushed up or shot up tiny pieces
of extinction that disguise themselves in yellow, green, white dandelions.

It’s all spinning now.