she called up on the telephone
upset, halfway between rage
a prickly roost
I know well
she asked me to come out
I can’t, I said. It’s the Poem,
and I can’t get it. It won’t
come to me.
empty as a rusted can of gas
I can’t light a fire
I can’t even crack a match
I’m just smoke and wind
falling over the trees
I’m young and pretty
some say beautiful.
I have a wonderful ass
a marvellous ass
eyes of azure
long blonde hair
almost razor straight
and wet lips that are
poised to thrill.
you are an old man
come out and fuck me
I’ll give you your Poem
I have to get drunk
and work the Poem
it’s all I have left
I hung up
I poured the Drink
3 oz. of Beefeater
a splash of bone-dry vermouth
half a shaker of cracked ice
and shake, shake, shake
until I cannot hold on
I started to type
with frosted fingers
I walked enviously past the cemetery again
watched the sun peel away the rain
and the supple grasses
bend and arc
and swoon on the solar winds
like a beautiful young woman
in the throes of
Hands that look sunburned
at first blush
count the silent ticks of a cognitive clock
grasping and releasing in stilted syncopation:
one-two-three-five (must avoid the four)
Did I remember to lock the front door? Out
of bed—again—freezing feet tumble
awaiting the circular inevitability. Again, again.
Pad, pad, pad:
light shuffling accompanies the one-two-three-five
pounding in the head; that mind ricocheted with worry—
worry about the front door, the evil intentions of four,
insidious germs and subsequent scrubbing-scrubbing-scrubbing
in bleach and Comet. Pad,
pad, pad to the front door.
It’s one hundred and thirty four steps, so take a baby-shuffle:
still avoiding the four.
Cold, unyielding brass knob. Locked.
Deadbolt? Check. Creeping black.
Chain lock? Check. Crawling germs. Oh, god.
Pad, pad, pad to the kitchen.
Clorox-fume greetings in the sparkling sink
from twenty-three minutes before. Never twenty-four.
Clorox on the cracked fingers, blistering
out that imperceptible blackness I know it’s there
blackness choking, bleeding in the bleach.
Scrub brushes, pumice, and fingernail files
wear down the nubs where the blackness may hide.
“Shh” the steaming water soothes
as it stings, scalds. “Shh.” Burn it all out;
conclusion so comforting. So predictably round.
This is the last time I can do this tonight. Pad, pad, pad
back to the bedroom. Downey quilt beckons in lover tones,
pleading pillows nudge against that head, that infernal head
still panicking amongst the softness:
Did I remember to lock the front door?
over 30 working feel like I am outside time and
feel like this IS history and
I am meddling in lives and
am a water stained photo album
no one wrote
she mistakes dead nerves for paranoia
and asked me how I feel but
you can’t SAY.
don’t know if I’m drinking to feel some melancholy buzz some love and soft enthusiasm
for nature in the broadest sense
or to kill feelings of crippling doubt
leave her stained in the bed
go to the spare room I write in
get out a black hunting knife
run my fingers over
the dried fruit juices
80s MOR coming out the kitchen radio only moves me to miss themed video games* not the school discos
too young I went to one one town over and alone and frightened I left and waited in silence on my uncles leather sofa
no one knew why and over 30 now I reminisce alone
mad enough to think
I’m drinking the tears of a
I release the angry door, which jars into its frame with an impressive gale force.
We are both in the structure, in from the windstorm.
I was only trying out consideration, holding the door for a stranger behind,
that the wind might not take her teeth out with let-loose metal door.
There are no thanks, she is angry at my consideration.
I see the books she carries and it all slides into place.
Were she to speak to me, she might rather spit.
There will be no holding open of doors we might share, for a time.
She would rather us be philosophies than strangers, schools of thought
instead of humans that share oxygen and floors and structures and doors,
She might hope I become culpable for a manner of things
far outside myself.
are those pretty sulfur coated nightmares.
I do not know if I want to feel
like Alice, constantly growing big and small.
Some will make me dull.
Some will bring me back down,
turning me into a slave.
They all swallow,
they all pop.
Even junkies need,
but resent their junk.
Silent protests from my throat.
Gulp it down.
Silent reassurances and
fifteen minutes until
washed away in a swirl of stomach acid,
and what they tell me will help.
Looking into a mirror
I want to see me,
not a pill.
white bottles and
Recap bottle and twist.