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

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.

Girls were burned for less than this in Massachusetts

 


(one)

They carve upside down crosses on their foreheads; the unborns will build a biogenetic tower of babel.
(two)

They live off of antiquated cultural paradigms in the final dimension of hell; everything is an act god if they use a periscope.

(one)

SHE is deficient.

(two)

SHE is an evolutionary microwave.

(one)

GOD will pardon malefactors

(two)

to a fixed point.

(one)

SHE doesn’t meet our

(two)

arbitrary shotinthedark

(one)

guidelines

(one)

SHE will raise her stagnant darlings in hell.

You Have Done It (Again)

You let him
subtract us, divide up
our comparisons
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!

Last Call

 

Here it was, the last act!
Your stubborn mind
crept for years, forgetting that it is not
easy to recite (write) the final words of you
when genetics signed the end.

The slight shaking of your left
hand, pushed up against the paper
for the final time as the index
and the thumb decided
it was enough.

A crack in your voice
eager to convince the rest of us
of the finality your words could hold
if only
you had something left to say.

The reduction of you
was swift, laid across newspaper, time stamped and closed.
The only remnant willing to connect you
and I together was the ink
that would smear when the slightest of pressure was applied
against the letters of your name.

a bad ass sonnet

The head warns the insides
that flowers grow, too
when his teeth and tongue settle on petals.

Terrified stars put on their jackets
when the moon shows her face,
the eyelashes of light are dishonest with excuses
to reschedule Our rest.

Swallowed ghosts fall asleep
in their cribs as the shudders of fur
command recognition when he sighs into ear canals.

The insides remind the head
of the flicker of sun’s nosebleed
when the ambiguity of incompetent love
was altogether silent.

Creation

I created
you-

The detail in the lines
against your face

the shine of your
cracked lips
against
the hard yellow bedroom light.

an enduring mark
on your foot
you earned twenty-seven days
before
you wrecked me.

Before me

the slight strands of your fur
running up
and down your body
did not stand up
in fury

before me

your mouth did not form
a sentence
so stark
in an obliterating sense
that the syllables
continue to hum
in the distance and haunt
my memory.

A Smile Remembered

I.

You died on that street.

In your sleep,
she said
you didn’t wake up
this time.

Last time
I sat near you
in a cracked black chair
you brought to hospital room to feel
like it was

Home.

She said you begged her
to bring me to you

she said
“he wants to see you.
it’s almost over.”

II.

The blinds were closed
at 3pm to forget there is life
further away from
you.

She fixed the white sheets that laid on you,
let herself out of that room.

Your head titled back,
the television
played

you said
“have you seen
this show?”

a smile
I remembered,

the part of you
below the white hospital sheets
I recalled
from years
from months
from weeks

stood up
in recognition

I said

“no.”