Faded coffee rings on strawberry milk
pink table tops,
A lone ant weaves its way across a dirt-speckled
white window sill.
Trails of dried suds that once dripped from stainless
steel washing machines,
A chipped clipboard empty except for a bright
orange biohazard sticker.
Parked cars with dozens of microdents line the edges
of the streets,
A group of girls giggle as they stagger by
on the sidewalk.
The contents of a trashcan have been ravaged and devoured by
raccoons and squirrels.
Lying in the stream of light beneath the front window,
a mangled bunny carcass.
A sharp buzz; my quarters have been used up.
The Man on the Hotel Room Bed
He shifts on the bed carefully, so as
not to press through the first layer
into the second, which is permanently sore.
For him sleep means lying as still as possible
for as long as possible thinking the worst.
Nor does it help to outlast the night-
in seconds after the light comes
the inner darkness falls over everything.
He wonders if the left hand of the woman
in the print hanging in the dark above the bed,
who sit half turned away, her right hand
clutching her face, lies empty,
or does it move in the hair of a man
who dies, or perhaps died long ago
and sometimes comes and puts his head in her lap,
and then is gone and lies under a sign
in a field filled nearly up to the roots
holding down the hardly ever trampled grass
with mortals, the once–lovers. He goes over
the mathematics of lying awake all night alone
in a strange room: still the equations require
multiplication, by fear, of what is,
to the power of desire. He feels around–
no pillow next to his, no depression
in the pillow, no head in the depression.
Love is the religion that bereaves the bereft.
No doubt his mother’s arms still waver up
somewhere reaching for him; and perhaps
his father’s are now ready to gather him
there where peace and death dangerously mingle.
But the arms of prayer, which pressed his chest
in childhood-long ago, he himself, in the name of truth,
let them go slack. He lies face-down,
like something washed up. Out the window
first light pinks the glass hotel across the street.
In the religion of love to pray is to pass,
by a shining word, into the inner chamber
of the other. It is to ask the father and mother
to return and be forgiven. But in this religion
not everyone can pray-least of all
a man lying along to avoid being abandoned,
who wants to die to escape the meeting with death.
The final second strikes. On the glass wall
the daylight grows so bright the man sees
the next darkness already forming inside it.
This skeleton couch,
cradled by ribcage I
slump farther into
the sloping curve.
That first rose,
its petals revealing
secrets like a child’s
paper fortune teller.
Wind chime promises,
broken glass hung
to be tickled
by the wind.
Play me a sad song,
deep black wrinkled petals.
I’ll make the heart my pillow.
Even the pristinely chiseled marble statue
with the smoothly contoured rolling hill muscles
and the delicate soft curls above his brow
with his face searching the heavens he
and tall in the square courtyard at the center
of the busy fountain
with arching jets of water like playful dolphins
and ornamental Grecian urns a man could hide in
which spill water from their lips
into the gurgling pool of crystal
surrounded by shrubs like planets circle the sun
that boast fuchsia bud moons in the late spring,
even he can’t stop a tear from escaping down his cold cheek when no one is looking.
We stood huddled beside the graves where his loyal golden retrievers lie buried,
his ashes still clung to our fingers though we released them into the breeze.
When I took that first powdery handful, the tears I hadn’t been able to cry
burned more than his cherished whiskey in my throat, a toast.
His closest friend of twenty years cleared his throat for a funny story
of how they had met a man on a hunting trip, and while at dinner
my good old grandpa made up a grand tale, said he used to be a pastor
The man said, What got you kicked out?
And he said, I molested children
And Mr. Al laughed at how crazy his sense of humor was-
but the quiet stares at the ash covered ground and the half-drunk
angry whiskey tears from my Aunts’ and mother’s eyes
told him otherwise.
We sit on the wooden picnic table
your back pressed to mine
years of carvings beneath our jeans
the chilled white ale
brown bottle in my hand
bubbles on my tongue
fire in the trees burns circles around us
we are the sacrifice on the alter
acorns drop, scatter the ground
that one was close
if one hits us, I fear
we may shatter.
His hand singes the skin of my back
sliding under my shirt
His tear gas breath on my face
my goose-bumped neck
it will feel so good
it will make your toes curl
he draws out the words
what I want)
it’s so late
just stay here tonight
His lips, little wasps,
stinging down my chest
my stomach, writhing
hand, tugging at my waistband
(I want to run
the other voice freezes
you got yourself here
you led him on
it’s your fault
now you have to
you’re already broken goods
my mind, goes
so he can do
what he wants
with my body
I’m already lost.