Standards

and again the test comes back negative for waterborne parasites
for gonorrhea of the throat and of elsewhere       for white blood cells in the stool

this isn’t always true       sometimes it’s a phone call from your lover
sometimes it’s your computer blinking on with news of what’s wrong
              with your body    this time

simple really       how he says the name of a disease
and suddenly you’re on your back           staring out the window onto a highway

suddenly a woman enters the room       to wrap a black cuff around your arm
and squeeze until you’re no longer sick

to slip a device under your tongue       check in your sweat’s accompanied
by the heat it demanded

and aren’t we all of elsewhere sometimes     the nowhere places you make yourself
inside the hallowed chambers of the hospital    and inside the man’s unsure voice

when he calls and is too scared to name the precise strain of letters
you might share now       what parasite might feed on the topsoil of your groin

what laugh track                   what tabernacle unlatched to let all that god in
what bacteria spreading its legs in your throat      as you speak

when the illness is terminal            you drink an eighth of paint thinner
while all the color drains from your face

all those little rocks in your gut turned to buses    all those buses full of strange men
each     one degree apart        all going somewhere and gone now

funny how a word can do that       garage the body

what if instead he’d simply called to say     epithalamium    or new car    or   sorry

More by sam sax

Doctrine

the time for nuance is over
i argue over breakfast
explaining how it’s oft used
to confuse dissent—knife
through my poached egg.
politicized work made all yolky,
easy to consume & forget.
i dab with the toasted bread
agitation & propaganda i rant
is the only just path for artists
gesturing with my utensils
heavenward. i’ve said a lot
of things which in retrospect
would’ve been better
had i kept my mouth shut.
i once said something to a friend
i won’t repeat here
& now she’s no longer my friend.
i'll never forget what her eyes did
as i finished speaking
stones in a bucket.
words have consequences
they’re both material & reveal
the spirit that speaks them.
what i meant over breakfast
is the time’s too urgent for work
that doesn’t have blood in it.
what i meant is insurgency
is our birthright, that nuance
comes from the french meaning
to shade—why another painting
of a lake when there’s so much
rage boiling outside the canvas?
what does it mean i don’t mean
what i say when i say it? i don’t know
what i mean. silence is golden
& gold’s the standard measurement
for capital. the golden rule is do
unto others as you would have them
do unto you. but what when they do
you ugly first as they always
seem to? i finish my coffee &
it’s political whether i want it
to be or not.

Trans Orbital Lobotomy

in through the eye
 
device adapted from an ice pick
 
the space between the cornea & tear duct tears
 
little incisions along the frontal lobe
 
you open the grapefruit 
 
you open the grape
 
you open 
 
in the '50s there were tens of thousands performed in the states 
 
sour mess. sour mash. mashup. macerate.
 
cut a rug. jitterbug. wonder drug. gutter. tug. suture. lacerate. 
 
erasure. erase. raced. deadened. dead end. 
 
end. replace. 
 
once a doctor removed the frontal lobe of an aggressive ape
 
what followed was a column of ants
 
your relative made new & easy to manage
 
a miracle 
 

Post-Diagnosis

REASON                /               UNREASON

 

the brain is                 

           an unlit synagogue 

easily charted               

           in dark waters

using machines            

           it can baffle faith

& therapy        

           it can asphyxiate

don’t worry                 

           the drowning dogs

your pretty head          

           painted for the gods

it’s simple                    

           to rage & riot & rot

to manage                    

           the vacant parking lot

with the appropriate     

           knives   do what some

medicines                    

           can not