Wild Lap Dogs, Show Your Teeth
Kissing me is like blowing a whistle on a dead man’s neck,
Torn to chum by the forces that be,
The sea is a bone yard of rudderless lead,
A playground for the wild, lapdogs of love—
Windless, with the warrior stares of the Vivian Girls.
One is missing a bootie;
One is missing a tuft of white curly hair just below the collar,
Reminding us to be kind in our assumptions
Or romance will be attacked and humiliated openly.
I read the Romantics and discovered
They hatched in me an unexplainable cruelty,
A crackling fist of voices to incite a war.
I remember the first time I fell for the sky.
I get carried away (There are so many of you).
I’ve got the homesick, no home, post-post blues.
I want fast alarms and wanderlust in a temperate broth.
Today, I am open for a good Amen wrenched out of a design instruction booklet.
I know you can’t grill systems of redemption on tanning beds.
From my bone-sand shoes to my sock-it-to-me blues,
Your finger script and my downtown yell match.
I would not be who I am if not for anthems
And the heater-click hover of bartenders
Who give strange steam to love this late.
Let me into your heart without
Talking so much. My newness really wants to show you
How much all your nothings mean.
You are aching alone in the fray—
Don’t be afraid to do
All that we talk of when we belong.
I use tonics to soothe the burns of missing faith and water.
And after seeing the hind legs of evolution;
Cambodian Snake Wine
I am no hero. Nothing told me to rescue myself.
I am the shots and the sharks
Wanting to eat the words off your tongue,
Finish your drink when your back is turned,
Take the change from your bedroom jar,
Drag you down like a Red Hook wharf rat,
Bury next to Houdini laughing over Queens.
I am the infant and her mother.
Give me the immeasurable to distract myself.
My life is divided into hourly increments:
Round gold clicks; letters in sound;
The small fixture of a headline;
Eyes open to the wattage parade,
Where are locked in the cold drink of conversation
And Faith for the sake of appearances.
We shake hands,
Show our oceans to the world.
The florets of our legs
Are called to the corners
That call to our mothers—
Away from butterflies
And all of their paper-thin novels.
Jump fences to feel the upset of youth once more.
Watch people as they replay conversations from their past and win.
Listen to a roommate’s anecdote about the guy who shit in a diaper
And then put it on his head.
A pregnant friend that you told this
Her eyes like broken pigeon wings in the frozen snow—
Now is the drugged crow of your gaze.
Now, your bread and butter
Is bread and butter.
All derivative, nothing, original genius
You slough it off like snake oil—
Tougher than the head of a cobra
Staring back at you from the vile.
Your Florida bullpen jumpsuit was bright orange
On the morning I told the judge you were a good man.
Three iced pints of Kentucky bourbon,
And the tavern walls roared back at me.
(The lonely bar stool winding down
And your glass still sweating on the right.)
The terrible applause of pool balls
Rolled through me as I walked home
And a heft of summer dew kept me
From floating into the trees.
The women on the street came in shapes
Like the smooth, brown bodies of guitars.
To all the men who have left their women at bars
And dragged home each dawn,
Carrying a book of scars and a sharpened pencil:
Everyone wants a love that they can crawl back to.
Bright Life, Animal Heart
You knew the etymology for morphine and doorway,
How bathwater holds children like minnows,
How to drive a silver Cougar–
With your tune-injected tan,
Voice between mermaid and human,
Flipping your hair at fate
While pink bubblegum rolled your tongue,
And a constellation of freckles threw a net to the sea.
For the world that will not yet allow me to rinse into blackness
For your gravestone somewhere in Florida
That sticks up like a finger in the bathtub,
I stand in the doorway as it crumbles.
I do everything the sky requires of me.
The river stones are turning into women
Who pound, thump— animals left to lord
Over the howl and estrangement of this hunt:
An arcade of salvation
Or tender horn to the animal of death?