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.

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.

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

Until

I wasn’t always good-
especially to you
mostly to me,

and you promised
but then you didn’t,
and you did
again

my mind-
it couldn’t take you here but I couldn’t
imagine you somewhere else
and not
with her.

You wouldn’t have loved me
if I was honest

and I couldn’t love me honest
because you, me, her
told me I wasn’t good enough,
that I wasn’t smart enough to keep up with you,
and that’s why you laughed when you tricked me

I didn’t believe you
the first, the second time
when you said you fucked someone else.

you laughed until it was the only sound
i could hear and

then I was pathetic
because you crawled into my head, you burned your name
behind my eyes

until it was only you that I was consumed
with.

you misplaced me, you said.

you said a lot of things,
conflicting things,
I couldn’t keep them straight.

I said
it was you,
it was only you,
it can only be you,
I forced you to be things that you were not,
I forced you to believe that you loved me
when you did not.

I was scared, afraid,
of what the worse side
of us looked like
but I didn’t realize that we were already worse
and I was worse and I did not realize it
until

it was June
until it was two years and you were sick of me,
I was sick of me,

but you said, you said,
you said,
you would be back at noon,
I watched the time push forward
without you-

you remembered
at 12:23
in the afternoon
that

I was the worst
part of you.

Where

You said you had me figured out,
that I wasn’t good, that your mother couldn’t like me.

Freedom, you said,
you would feel freer without me
where your memory ignores the spasms of me.

but it is now –
and I remember the grey,
the in-between before the end,

the pull of your skin against
your eyes.

Your hair is two years longer
now,
you continue to cut off
the ends
in disconnect from me

where the strands of your hair
hit the bottom of your sink,
where you doubt
you have buried me.

Time

I waited
up
for you,

check
the time

mindful
forgetfulness,
you tell
me
to find
a better use
of my
time

the clock
distorts
reality,
a construct
made up
in your head,
my head,

when it used to be
our head,

when you
called
me
ten-
eleven
times
in two
hours

the pause
is long
now

your
disuse
binds
us

a fictional
cord
tying you
to me,
to me
to you.

you said
I wasn’t
like
you

that’s
why we
don’t
touch
anymore.

Twenty-Six

I.

I counted
the number
of steps you took
to make it from the front door
to my bedroom,
twenty six

you stopped coming around
after your legs
gave up on you
because even they
were tired of carrying you
around

I slammed
your bedroom door
hard enough
to watch the hinge
break off
when my mother
said
you were a saint
for dying

II.

she brought home
a bible
the day after
you told her you were dying

she let it collect
dust in her nightstand,
the same nightstand
where she left her ashtray,
smoking cigarettes,
getting high

each time
I did not flinch
when she told me
you were dying,
she said

I’ve been thinking about god lately.
god will help you
try to forget

an occasional
christian
when the occasion
calls for it,
with get-well-cards
lining
your hospital room,
god can
fix
the terminal
if you
ask nicely
enough

III.

you cried
telling me
how awful it is
to die,
how the white
sheets on your
hospital bed
remind you
of death,

you can’t feed yourself
anymore,
a tiny baby
in the body of a fifty five year old,
whining
about things it does not
understand

IV.

I said
we’re all going to die

but not as soon as me,
you said

I sent a card
to your mother
with a pre-written
apology for your death,

followed up with
a handwritten note
detailing how much you changed
my life,
read between
the lines

7pm,
someone
is taking your body
and burning it

I wonder
if they think
you were good,
or if the rough
wrinkles
on your face
are enough
for them
to shove your body
in the fire
and forget
about it.