I was following the little dog through the skinny trees.
I was just collecting water glasses.
I was filling them at the well and carrying them back, one by one,
trying not to drop a single drop.
I was wearing the same shirt as the day before and the day before that
And the day before that.
Asking all my ghosts to join me on the dance floor.
Let’s Twist, let’s shimmy.
While the room waltzes, I will Watusi.
I was Jimmy Switchblade.
I was the Three Cherries Gang.
I was the tallest cigarette in the pack
I was black jacket black collared collar up. I was actually yellow shirt lost.
I was laying in the dirt and piling it on. I believed if I kept trying to bury myself
then maybe I could talk to some other world.
I just got dirty.
My belly was heavy.
For months, I barely moved.
After she left I barely moved.
I watched the sun go down, and while waiting for it to return I slept
–dreaming of the bicycle but I did not know what the bicycle was.
I thought, What a strange horse that fish is—do I kill it or ride it?
How do I do either of those?
Instead, I baptized myself with bath water, rode the airplanes like they were church.
Hoped the chains could not climb this high.
Staring out the windows, I made a list of my body parts that no longer worked,
folded it into an envelope,
hoping my mother or a former lover would one day come across it.
That list is a poem not a list.
So is this one.
I rode the airplanes
until they brought me 530 miles from the room I was born inside of.
My fists back then were not so much smaller than they are now, simply tighter.
I have been shrinking more and more with every month.
The South it is my beautiful bed.
One day bury me in it.
Till then I will touch it from time to time.
Carry me inside its wet wet heat–
I sweat when I walk.
When I walk I see my dreams come closer.
What I thought was a horse or a fish was really a girl on a bicycle.
She had small fingers but reached them towards me.
I neither killed nor rode her.
All I did was make a hand.
All I did was get wet.
All I did was shake my body like a library in an earthquake.
I spilled books like holy water.
My rooms were a mess.
The ceiling came in closer to read all that I was–a thousand years of spines,
a pale suit stitched from a riverbank. Bags of the heaviest dust. Splinters
on my tongue from licking the roofs of so many cathedrals–
I had worked so hard for my sorrow.
So I asked my boss for the night off.
Caught another plane.
Rode it to a dance in Chicago.
I combed my hair, slicked down with pomade. Put my shiniest belt buckle on.
I saw Suzie on the dance floor.
She put a quarter in the jukebox and grabbed me like a police man
asked What you do Ace?
I told her I work at a malt shop. And sometimes I bury things.
But I ain’t too good at that. I ain’t always too good at that I told her.
She looked at me like we had prayed on the same cliff.
She told me she didn’t believe in God anymore.
I told her I still did.
Her and I, we have prayed on the same cliff.
She held me like a handcuff.
I swallowed keys.
I danced with Suzie all night long.
I’m still waiting for the sun to come up.
I don’t care if it never does.
I am warm enough.