if the body is just a parable about the body if breath is a leash to hold the mind then staying alive should be easier than it is most sick things become dead things at twenty-four my liver was already covered in fatty rot my mother filled a tiny coffin with picture frames I spent the year drinking from test tubes weeping wherever I went somehow it happened wellness crept into me like a roach nibbling through an eardrum for a time the half minutes of fire in my brainstem made me want to pull out my spine but even those have become bearable so how shall I live now in the unexpected present I spent so long in a lover’s quarrel with my flesh the peace seems over- cautious too-polite I say stop being cold or make that blue bluer and it does we speak to each other in this code where every word means obey I sit under a poplar tree with a thermos of chamomile feeling useless as an oath against dying I put a sugar cube on my tongue and swallow it like a pill
In god’s gleaming empire, herds of triceratops
lunge up on their hind legs to somersault
around the plains. The angels lie in the sun
using straight pins to eat hollyhocks. Mostly
they just rub their bellies and hum quietly
to themselves, but the few sentences
they do utter come out as perfect poems.
Here on earth we blather constantly, and
all we say is divided between combat
and seduction. Combat: I understand you perfectly.
Seduction: Next time don’t say so out loud.
Here the perfect poem eats its siblings
in the womb like a sand shark or a star turning
black hole, then saunters into the world
daring us to stay mad. We know most of our
universe is missing. The perfect poem knows
where it went. The perfect poem is no bigger
than a bear. Its birthday hat comes with
a black veil which prattles on and on about
comet ash and the ten thousand buds of
the tongue. Like people and crows, the
perfect poem can remember faces and hold
grudges. It keeps its promises. The perfect
poem is not gold or lead or a garden gate
locked shut or a sail slapping in a storm.
The perfect poem is its own favorite toy.
It is not a state of mind or a kind of doubt
or a good or bad habit or a flower of any
color. It will not be available to answer
questions. The perfect poem is light as dust
on a bat’s wing, lonely as a single flea.