A Life Vest
A mad therapist throws a life vest to the hungry poets
so they can hoot to the rhythms of the fights over land
the rain in Biloxi slips out of a cloud to fill the frightened neighborhood
the clocks astonished in their childhood flee with the little koi
tiny pallbearers swallow their pain and smear their hats with oil
the colored map drifts off the globe gut-ripped by the wolves
a pamphleteer asks what are you doing here with that dangling rope?
and the surviving island swims with its soul to an owl in the starlight
boats embark for the vapor as dark as screams captured in clay
toxins and blisters climb to the new world of sunrise and sleep
bomb makers open up the ripe scent of busy thighs
a surgeon decides to stimulate the bright heart in the tent of ribs
useless as a season of nosebleeds in a brick tower
while stubble-faced Europe is held at knife point by a bored kid
that half-dressed beast doing a rope-a-dope with the dollar
again the temperament of the delta grows closed off from the failures of beauty
the primal moon glistens above the root fire and its gang of shadows
flinty eyes slowly read the foolish words afloat in the tidal pools
fishnets rush forward to capture the hurt and yearning in the earth’s eight hours
as the dog I walk nightly drums the beach to echo the pods of whales
The Blue Clay
Brass angels do not grow back in the painted cottage
the dark shape in the window is an ape with a leaky Camelback
water on the linoleum writes a thank you note to the hum in autumn
and the devil’s wife delivers the number eleven apology
five minutes of heckfire from a rocking chair then the shriek of a train whistle
melodies of desire for the little sister of the raisin pig
a black man in pajamas asks a simple question of the bedwetter
why do the paper covers on the faces only come in white?
because the yarn god is as reckless as a park full of bikers and skaters
because the morsels of a million coins are left on the ground with the snakes
yet the leg man living near the watershed rides bareback on the birch
his partner around the edges of Wisconsin chatters to the leaves
one cot for their souls that sleep in the orchard of doom and damage
while their sweet night desires build a stage for the animal Jesus
but in the end raku can’t fuse the blue clay of a broken marriage
the collapse of the tortillas advances to the middle of the later body
the kidney transitions to parenthesis and ten truths are eliminated
spread by an astonished mouth out to hunt its remote tattoo
the neighborhood bonobos tear down the merry-go-round
they know sand in the panties makes a tough lesson for the soul
The Late Riot of the Falls
The lemon cake contradicts an honest scoop of enchilada mush
its heart beats like a banjo at a funeral parlor in a drafty house
lost to dust and dreamed from a rib forged by an ancient flame
its tune the tide of brains shorting out amid love’s dying
inside the hollows of the overcoat Sinatra wore to the studio
no man can trust the primal white noise climbing
the bleachers before dawn at Connie Mack Stadium
traveling out past the meteors during the last days of dynasty
with the theory of the sea paralleling the rivers
and finishing angrily at the late riot of the falls
no man overdrugged on Haldol quits a bed to haunt
the poplars flattering the play of boys and their grass stains
down, down the throat of Spanish whisper and mistaken drink
to the black cliffs in the shadows with the shy bathers
there’s something essential about a short skirt ending on a wrong note
in the eastern hills of the stage after third midnight
by then the judgment of a thousand years fuels the naked radicals
whose easy answers are strangled by kelp floating through the flesh
a powerful curse is carried by the suicide of travelers
but not one stain on the face can replace a tattoo of mosquito netting
Under the Blood Red Moon
The blood red moon is designated as hazard,
its commission lasts until it is finished dressing,
and even as it is coy among the town’s visitors,
it drifts into the hanging position to have its
tongue inspected. It talks. It recites the names
of enemies so that its animals may feel
the malevolence of the soil’s odd markings.
The dogs bay at it beneath the winter pines.
The owls imitate their fathers, and the deer
scamper into the gathering trials of tomorrow
to keep their young from hesitating too long
around the fodder. It has been set out by
the missionaries who claim they have
invented the high white collar.
But in January the endings are nearer
and the graves are simpler, at least among
the Januarys anyone remembers.
The mistake of all husbands is to forget
the important ones—that is a crime against
reality. Great chunks of it with its cutting
edges go tumbling into the void. There
it decimates the attendees who wait to receive
a check for the accident. The car horns
blast when it arrives. Sedans from
the hinterlands strap on their
bluetooth speakers and broadcast a prayer
to the barren surfaces, far and wide,
over the blankets of dust to where the leaves
lie next to each other on the ground,
expecting to decompose. They leave
their impressions as if stenciled letters
in a formation the old still call beautiful.
Down for Good
I make small talk with an Abigail at
the register. But now she's an Abby
since she left the South. For now, she's
an Abigail on her tag, and I confess I'm
not up to much this evening, but really
I'm going to dwell on how I came to be
satisfied with less, why I'm not going to
be one of those guys who needs the best.
I'm like that guy in the tank top with his
twelve pack of Tecaté in cans. He has
his weekend smile on already. He knows
this is as good as it gets. He probably
eats ham for lunch on his sandwich,
carving meaty slabs away from the bone-
in-butt and asking his kids like I've done
this week — You want ham with that?
Damnit I want ham with everything.
I want ham on glitz and ham on bling.
I want ham at Starbucks and tourist towns.
I want ham on the Supreme Court
and Oscar evening gowns. I want ham
on it all, thirty-two varieties of upscale
ham for developing a ranking system
with my friends. But today I can't even
have ham with eggs. My son dropped
the carton on his way in. I should
shame him, hang a sign around his
neck like those Internet fools do
to their German shepherds. Tippy's
says I ate all the blue paint.
Boomer's broadcasts I crapped in
the fireplace again. I wonder if
people do this because they know
better, like they've been let out
into the world for their good behavior.
I couldn't do that. I'm no model
citizen. Not even among dogs,
and besides who would listen?
Oh, Abigail, my Abigail, why doesn't
anybody listen the way you did when
I inched to the front of the checkout line?
I should have told you what I was up to,
but I was too busy thinking
I may be down for good.