a red kayak and a yellow kayak
float slowly down the river
sideways with no one on board.
Cleaning the floors today
moving furniture, the dust,
which is afterall just our shedding,
we sweep it in a pile as if
we could gather ourselves back up again,
keep each cell, each white
hair or brown connected to us forever,
if only we knew the secret to putting
it back or keeping it from falling
in the first place. Never brush
never wash, lie down in the pile
and reabsorb it all. But it won't return
we can't contain the laws of physics,
we have no more say than the toddler at the barber
with a fist full of hair crying, "Put it back
mommy, put it back."
I had forgotten
that the body remembers
every single thing
Oh lord I'm tired
been a long ass day,
I went out drinking,
deserved to play
I mowed the grass
'bout three feet tall,
but I ain't got
no poem at all.
Hope you will not
shake your head,
think me lazy
as I go to bed.
Because I'm doing
the best I can
ain't got no poem,
ain't got no man.
Pierce the skin to know the sugar in the blood.
You're not afraid of death, but to think of blindness
or a foot sawed off by sterile instruments
sharp with purpose and good intentions--
that will steer the sweetest tooth
toward a different sort of promiscuity.
Your butcher's knives gleam on magnetic
strips above the kitchen counter,
rectangles of wood stand ready to blunt
their cleave. Thin scars hatched upon
surfaces fail to remind you
that nothing remains unmarked.
It takes no time at all for the blade
to slip and enter into your own warm flesh,
your blood a bright exclamation
on the kitchen towel that absorbs it,
your hunger unsatisfied.
A fever's coming, I can feel it
quick go get the thermometer
and for God's sake rinse
it off first Lord knows where
that thing has been how many times
it's been dropped in the toilet
or poked into dirty corners
it has no business in and bring
me a glass of water and a tylenol
broken in two you know I can't swallow
those things whole.
So she goes to the drawer and
fishes around for the digital
thermometer, which she can't
find and when she does the battery
is dead and she's cut her finger
on the xacto knife her brother
must have put in there and blood
is getting everywhere she fills
a glass with water she has made sure
is exactly the right temperature
but of course it isn't
and her mother won't drink.
Instead she complains of the blood
inconsiderate child when you know
I am so very very sick to come
in here getting red marks
everywhere ruining your blouse
you will scrub that right out missy
and forget the water just bring
that bottle the one I bought to give
to your cousin on his wedding
hell he don't need it he's young
and healthy gonna give that girl
something to think about with
those big hands of his and that
fine mouth no I'm drinking that
whiskey go get it now.
She finds it in the cupboard under
the kitchen sink still in a brown
paper bag and when she gives it
to her mother she leaves a bright
red fingerprint right on the neck
but her mother doesn't even see it
and can't taste the fact her mouth
has kissed the smooth round
opening first. Good night mama
she says and leaves the room
pulling the heavy door slowly
closed behind her drops
of her blood landing softly on the floor.
She wakes up and sees the bruises
but she doesn't know where they came from.
No, it's not like that, she wonders which
table corner or dresser drawer she has idly clipped
this time and why it doesn't hurt more
when the marks are so colorful and large.
She remembers going to work in those days
muscles sore from last night's fucking,
new muscles she hadn't been aware of,
a secret twinge that made her smile
or sometimes wonder why it didn't
hurt more to leave.
God, it feels good to purge. No,
it's not like that, she doesn't retch
while that which she no longer
needs comes spilling out
not even leaving a mark.
The boat hit the dock today
revved hard backwards
but it wasn't enough,
we watched the pilings fall over
and the workers run back
from the approaching
The blue chairs lined up
on the stern deck
invited us to sit
and watch the clouds
cast shadows on the hills
once we got under way
after the crash.
The dam is a marvel, miracle of electricity
generated that we take for granted and forget
the land beneath the reservoir which was
of course, sacred. How casually they mention
in the promotional DVD they gave us to
take home and watch, the flooded petroglyphs,
the other people who even today consider
the small outcrop that remains above the flood
to be holy.
Do not reminisce about your first crush
in junior high, the one who sat behind
you in L.A.S.S. and always liked other girls.
Try not to wince at the orthodontist's office
when they show him the wires and talk
of wax and rubber bands and how to brush.
Instead make fart jokes and refuse
to remember what cut you.
You two have your own language now,
fearless as the deer in the yard
who prickle and leap
away from danger
without the need to think.