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 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 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” 

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-
why aren’t you sad, lady on the chair.

Now it is the smell of an oven upside down, out of the ash,
the end of a rope, the fish line broke, the spring, the hammer,
the catch, don’t read the note, the holding bar —
the lady on top of the chair
is The best when she is suffering.

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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.

Macrocosm Liability

You ruin your body in November, where insects begin to pay
rent somewhere else, where lightboxes rub their hands together in anticipation
of their consolidated return.

There is a police report inside mom’s grey lock box of secrets,
carbon copy dad followed mom to the grocery store. dad accused
mom of fucking someone else
because the firing off inside his arms fired off somewhere else.

Now you’ve reproduced yourself
in the face of a stranger who sits in the café
where I work, writing on his computer. The fern resembles
you, too. There is an upside down universe
where we get everything we want, bees don’t
vanish when we take things that aren’t ours.

Dad remembers cytology but multiplies it by 3,
but this time, he knows how to read a calendar
or the cicadas will trade their watch with his.
And you don’t move one million dollars in a year
selling fractions of evil.

You keep the rug underneath you,
or at least the birds vibrate closer
to earth to keep it spinning-
and smoke signals don’t mirror
motel rooms where the sparrow
cannot keep silent.

Probability Distribution

 

I.

Your father was born
when the doctors told him
he was going to die.

His terminal existence
made him honest, forced him
to believe in habitable planets
where it would not have turned out
like this.

He was filled with faulty
wiring. It was a mistake with the mechanics
that forced him to give in
and believe in
higher-ups.

II.

You turned on the television
as your father’s body burned
in the background.

There, you had decided
it was not a cosmic
coincidence or an illusion of chance
that you had seen
the universe attempting to make sense
of itself
in the permanently repeating pattern
within the metallic, coarse
covering of the pangolin’s exterior.

Elephants

There are other pieces of land
where you don’t have to be this. The heat is the same
wherever you go, don’t blame the television for making you
a liar. You won’t find yourself in Los Angeles,
haven’t you seen their homelessness problem?
There’s nothing for you
in New York. I remember you
sitting across from me in the fluorescent diner
around one am. You said the waitress looked
like my mother. She did. Mom never left Philly,
look where it got her. Stuck in someone
else’s head.
I shouldn’t have left Philadelphia. Enough people died there,
but people die in New York too.
I find myself counting the miles between you and I, but I lose
count after the first 300.
I hear your voice enough that I think we can distort the time zones, outsmart
the sunset, but it doesn’t work.
Writers like to trick you into thinking words can change
your perception, but we have all said the same thing. Some of us don’t need
a kickstand. I think Brett could have fixed that, but we all have our limitations.
Now everyone knows someone who died
from something. You tell me of the time you found out that elephants
never forget. That’s why we take things that aren’t ours, at least then some body
will remember us.
But you stay three hours behind me, unable to catch up or tie up the difference.
You ask me what it’s like in future. Nine months is enough
to ruin someone’s life.
It feels safer this way.

LAS VEGAS LOST & FOUND

+
I forged your signature-
the A and the ending E
ran into each other, as if they were
proud that we did not share
the same letters that made us up, and pulled
us apart.

There is nothing worse than knowing you will not
be missed.

+
I wished on Yellowstone erupting,
forcing the west to take you in
and then freeze you out.

There are books that tell us of end
times, and none of them mention your name.

+
I took (y)our children to the end
of the desert, found the tallest mountain (peavine peak)
in Nevada.

Your heads could find the end
of the precipice, your skulls pierced like plastic…

There are turtles, otters that have been tricked by you
and your discarded six-pack rings.

+
I hoped parallel lines would combine us,
when instead they divided us.

Euclid said things
that coincide with one another are equal

but he did not argue with you.

Atropa Belladonna

The alignment of your teeth remind them
that you are a function, the final crescendo
for their proverbial spank bank. Off guard
but enduringly on time – You should smile more.

(no thank you. i am fine. nothing is wrong. today is a good day.)

There is a battery in his mouth, his voice
turns. Now it is you – you are the bitch,
should have been agreeable, should have made
cosmetic provisions when younger!

We, the lesser, have forgot that we exist
solely to be looked at. They just do not know better.
Must respond well to constructive compliments!
To blatant threats of violence, ETCETERA.
Must realize that you are only useful
when you are bent over or on your knees.

i have won it all, thinks brigitte

if there is one thing a woman should be, it should be the very best.
b is not the very best woman.

it is a pity that brigitte does not love her husband.
i love you so much, says brigitte.

certainly i am nothing without you, and if i am nothing, then there is not a point in being a person at all.

her husband thinks b is pathetic.
he would be right, if he was not also just like poor brigitte.

it is her husband that laughs loudest because he is safe.
b is not safe.

there is nothing else for brigitte.