by Jay Livingston
I would find him unconscious
in obscure places, a story written
in paths of furniture knocked over
from his collapse; spilled drinks, plates
the cats gathered around to lick clean.
I once peeled his face from the keyboard,
shook him until he opened one eye
just enough to show that he was alive;
One time he was laying on the oven door,
a sheet of barbecue wings spilled around him,
sleeping in the stove’s hot iron maw.
The day I found him in the yard
dirt and grass pressed onto one side of his face,
afternoon sun frying the other cheek,
he slurred to me that he was napping.
He was in a McDonald’s drive-through
the day he got caught high in public,
slumped over the steering wheel,
and the lunch lady who knew him
shouted over the bustle of the cafeteria
to say
Those nights I’d sneak out the front door
he never noticed—I zipped my coat
in the same room, stubbed my toe
on the table’s leg and shook the change
bowl, made the wood stretch and moan.
He didn’t hear the squeal of the hinge
six feet from where he laid
on the floor, or the door clapping shut
and the blinds smacking its hollow
face—just laid in his drool,
and cat piss stains,
and his own filth, worriless,
numbed, and numbing me.