Erotic dancing takes the place of Greek tragedy
just as the gladiatorial fights did in Rome—but it is a
private dance
no one can touch or see. A feeling every day I enter and close
a curtain behind. Sitting alone with it,
looking at it through a tiny hole,
something lithe and naked, shaking in the spotlight
beyond which I can never reach—

suffering cannot do what it did for Christ.
We do not get to go home afterward, cannot be
imagined into the arms of the absent father. See how
I do not rise up or shift the stone, do not
inspire a nation—I sit at the bar
consuming fried food. I put $5 into a machine
and shoot bucks with a long green rifle,
not speaking, not calling out anyone’s name,
just me and the deer
grazing in a digital clearing of the wood.

I can’t tell anymore for whom I grieve.
Something bigger
and more catastrophic has died
but died out of necessity—something that thought itself
into indispensability
something burst from every atom
outward, like autumn fireworks over the lake
and now
I’m just recording its scream and glitter-down,
just making a serial
from its fantastical, dazzling demise—
I can’t tell anymore whether I am grieving you particularly
or I simply find life and death erroneous—this
big expired grief
                      like a limb people deny ownership of, find
in their beds and throw on the floor, only to be told
            again and again, when the
whole body is thrown with it—that it is

attached,

           it is theirs, that they were
born with it.

More by Bianca Stone

Making Apple Sauce with My Dead Grandmother

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. 

I Saw the Devil with His Needlework

The air was like a bullet made out of silk
I saw him at the curb
on old upholstery  
saw him with his counted-thread-point
and tent-stitch, bent over an embroidery hoop
the trees lifted their drunk limbs and leaves
while the evening
looked through a succession of windows
into other people’s rooms
the evening was a powerful gun
the evening had an Uzi
broad evening
in a neighborhood full of translucent teens
sucking on one another’s backpacks
filling up the trains with their heat
their intelligence pouring out into the street, sobbing—
I saw the devil with his sewing threads
making something special for me
and it wasn’t thunder
it was perfect clouds
I saw the devil with his stitching techniques
textiles and shadow
saw his hands that never stopped
the clean amp of his forehead
tight intervals of flowers in his teeth
bright as an earing in the drain
and I made a force field with the wilderness in my face
and a fortune-teller’s neon sign
that glowed a painted light onto the street
and I said his name
and his crimes
three times against a curse
and found a coin on the ground and read the tiny date
and blessed a bag of weed
and a wild bore
I left my bones and my scars
and went out
like a poltergeist
totally empty

Practicing Vigilance

Every day try and write down one terrible thing.
One terrible thing—I’m filled with them,
carry each one
like an organ locked in a Coleman cooler.

Add a little color for emphasis.

I say my father’s surname to a migration of crows.
His name like a figure jumping out of an aerodynamic object

through a burning hoop
into a glass of still water.

 

*

 

My history is comprised of the inappropriate.
I look into the mirror and see disturbed human qualities,

my face like grass in a summer essay
like a senator stepping into an empty room

to hate his speech,

the almost symmetrical science of it.

Trying to feel something.
Covering rented light with a curtain.

 

*

 

Today make nothing happen very slowly.

I can see through the atmosphere’s silk chemise

        all the way to the faint constellation in the southern sky
and it’s making me want to shake my head

and ask a question
to the clairvoyant 8-Ball in my hands—ask

if we are among those left in a dark forest

        with our flare guns pointed at the ground

or among those loved by our parents’ parents
on the paternal side we never see.

Hell If I know, the 8-Ball says
drunk in its dark blue alcohol.

 

*

 

Winter breathed out all language.
My father appeared
and began taking my hair
one follicle at a time.
He worked his way to the neural tissue
threw himself down
in a tantrum.
I listen attentively to the wind
and cannot compute this.
I sell my letter to the sentimentalists
leaving behind a trail of fuck you
crumbs the largest of birds cannot tear.

 

*

 

Despite the parables I keep close
I won’t be mythologized by my father
who moves like an incoherent, boozing breeze
through my life’s antechambers.
I won’t admire the west vestibule of the Frick with him
not with this roast on a spit in my chest
the mind like a database of rage-expressions
the mind like a bottle of loose glitter—

so shadowy, my people, you begin
to see the blueprints in all things
        until you can’t hold a book without
blowing on it to see if it will scatter
or laying on a bed, waiting to fall through
into the particle-laden apartment below—
to each his own until it ruins pleasure.

 

*

 

Where is the rain
when I am feeling this
reckless?

I went to a doctor and she said
There’s a little you in there who feels
hideous—

the little me fell
like a grand piano into my lap

 

*

 

Visualize a knock-knock joke with yourself
in a white noise somewhere
on the Upper West Side
a box of Kleenex in your hand.

memory swam through the grotesque
with its spoon paddle.

My dreams always fell flat.

The doctor said:
Start with finding out where your hands go
when you say your father’s name.

 

*

 

I say his name and I can see him.
He squats in the corner computing Zeno’s paradox.
He fills another glass and pukes,

starts in again about the illusion of motion—

If I’m coming toward you on the street
I will never reach you, he raves.
I’ll go half way and there will be another half and another half and another half.

He stands in infinite points on the distance
assuring with his ancient terrible glee
that I am going to go out and get a drink with him.

Deep within some cell
the  nucleus grows unstable

 

*

 

I used to put a miniature rosebush 
in the ground each year
to counteract my squalor.
Don’t tell me that definition of madness,
doing the same thing over again etcetera.
The definition of madness
is a certain enthusiasm, then there has
to be another person there
to not share in it—who is oppressed by it
who can only stare into it.
Tell it to the bluebird rustling over my head.
Tell it to a satellite orbiting in its delusion of being a moon.

I’m coaxing the black bull out of my mouth
with a red flag and a beer. I’m constructing
out of my faulty genes,
my last sentence, my last thing
which addresses the dilemma obliquely:

we will perceive our own pain in others.
And we will know if we are capable of loving them.