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
He was filled with faulty
wiring. It was a mistake with the mechanics
that forced him to give in
and believe in
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
in the permanently repeating pattern
within the metallic, coarse
covering of the pangolin’s exterior.
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
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.
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
There is nothing worse than knowing you will not
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)
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.
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.
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.
You let him
subtract us, divide up
and took us apart.
Your husband is a liar-
one year in every ten, you wrote
us down. Now he does it for you
daily, hourly, monthly, continually.
We are better this way, he says, they say.
Would he consider it
a lapse in (your) judgement?
Discarded by someone else,
someone else who failed to see
the void, the absence that he should
not have created.
Now our abscessed estrangement carries
your worn out years,
a pleading spectacle,
a wailing dramatization – look here!
I watched them pull you apart-
and gut you like a fish on a silver table
to remove your heart
and turn it over to someone else
who will not carry the same blue marbles
that warned me of the tiny galaxies
inside of you.
—For Ruth Stone
The sound of your voice
low, through the telephone
was certain that you had become a fractal
flaw. A mistake the universe
forgot to fix.
You had decided that you would
fix it, this time you would divide
You forgot to leave
an instruction manual, a check-list of
items to cross out
in the event
that you became crossed out.
There are crumbs
of you that continue
to vibrate in absence-
Mandelbrot was wrong;
there are no gifts from zero.
Three cards drawn
then placed against the black table
a year prior,
there he was-
arranging your fate
and there you were
as the calendar had made up
to jump to month thirteen
It had found you
the low yellow
motel room light
which did not show contrition
until it was hour three.
And the off, on tick of the poorly hung clock
did not stall, as the timekeeper laughs
in the background – off stage.
Listen, it’s hard to keep
it up like this.
We’ve seen what you’ve done.
Fifty-six years seems like enough of that.
We can understand how the word “terminal” makes things between us awkward
but an early death seems like the least of your worries,
you’re a bit belated on repenting for past mistakes.
Hey – it isn’t all bad news. We’ve talked with your memory,
he said he’s willing to stick it out, so you’ve got that going for you.