I dig her up and plop her down in a wicker chair. She’s going to make apple sauce and I’m going to get drunk. She’s cutting worms out of the small green apples from the back yard and I’m opening up a bottle. It erects like a tower in the city of my mouth. The way she makes apple sauce it has ragged strips of skin and spreads thickly over toast. It’s infamous; eating it is as close to God as I’m going to get, but I don’t tell her. There’s a dishtowel wrapped around her head to keep her jaw from falling slack— Everything hurts. But I don’t tell her that either. I have to stand at the callbox and see what words I can squeeze in. I’m getting worried. If I dig her up and put her down in the wicker chair I’d better be ready for the rest of the family to make a fuss. I better bring her back right. The whole house smells of cinnamon and dust. We don’t speak. She’s piling the worms up in a bowl and throwing them back into the yard.
Man burns at a certain degree
but I always burned a little slower.
When I went into school
I left a trail of blackened footprints
to my classroom of spelling words,
never starred. At the end of the earth
we’ll be locked in our own spelling mistakes,
our arms around the legs of our mother
so she won’t leave, our heads filled with beer, the light
receding. What kind of death is reserved for me?
The green plastic soldier has his gun up against everything.
And what does one do with a gun really?
I’ve only held three my entire life.
The third I held was the first I used.
I was with Rebecca and her father, deep in the woods of Vermont
when she was staying with me in the heap.
I shot at a beer can until my hands went numb.
And I loved her the whole time.
With car accidents and barbiturates. The way
she got wasted, knocked her teeth
into her lap and told me
I loved her too much—what was all that?
What man does is build whole universes out of miniscule
disasters and educational degrees.
I have mine in an enormous envelope two feet behind me.
My name looks good in gangster font.
It makes me want to alight
on the thigh of my beloved like a moth
because I know all careful grief
comes out from behind the thigh
and makes a fist at the grey sky above Brooklyn.
The destroyed continue into the snow-filled future, shoveling.
And love is either perpetually filthy
or intermittently lewd.
I’m sweeping the entire apartment because it’s mine forever.
And that’s valid, too: domestic eroticisms. The way
he gets up out of bed before you
and puts on clothes and can’t find his keys.
All of it, without parents, without children, without roommates.
It feels good to get something
back. And the whole feels
detrimental and complicated and forever stimulating.
Which is why we live—and why we send out
balloons into the atmosphere
with notes tied to them that say
Nothing bad can touch this life
I haven’t already imagined.