Sing to me, hesitant breath
through the voicemail, of the day
we stopped burning our kings.
You said something like, “I have nothing
left in me,” but more like, “I know everything
because I hung from that tree for
three years.” The bowstring snaps.
The moths are eating the stars to pieces.
I’m looking out my window,
and it is snowing in Hommlet.I can’t pull down the moon
for you. I don’t even have a rope,
but the coyotes are yelling at it
all night long. What then? I told a story,
and even the priests stopped praying,
even Hommlet ate itself up with snow.
I told another, and the screen door
started clapping before I turned
around for another drink. You know,
this is a self-pity song too.
II- Mealtime Prayer to the God of Infertility and Citrus Fruits:
I will name my children Ricky and Pussywillow. For schooling, I will put them in the backseat of my car and drop them off with the coyotes behind the Hommlet Outlet Malls. They are good: they have poems from the New York School, knives from deer ribs, and new-discovered wisdom
of plants and tonics. In the evening, I will put my children in the backseat of my car and ask,
“Ricky, Pussywillow, what did you learn today?”
Ricky will say, “I learned that you cannot eat serviceberries.”
Pussywillow will say, “I learned that Frank O’Hara was a sick old man.”
They don’t have a mother; they came from me, like rain off my skin, like pignuts off the hickory.
When I go out, I leave them with the man we call Leviathan, but whose real name is Henry.
He is jaundiced and rents the house across the street from his ex-girlfriend. He is too old for that, but he is good too.
We buy candy from the woman down Tulip Poplar. She is so good that she would cut her finger off for my children. (I would do the same). She tells me, “The subdivision will burn to the earth. Your hand. A Saturday.” She gives the fighter (Pussywillow) hard candy and the illusionist (Ricky) cherry juice in a chalice.
III- Adoration of the God of Split Lips, Smelling Salts, and High School Wrestling Matches:
Give me a day where it is biologically imperative to remain inside;
this is to say I have poured enough fortified wine on this rug;
this is to say, “You know, you haven’t really done anything wrong.”
The snow is falling and surrounding us, so call me supplicant, call me hierophant.
this one was supposed to be vicious, bloody. I was supposed to rally
behind the free weights at the YMCA, behind
the monster face on the porn store, behind the lot raising milkweed, behind the old Hommlet
diner, behind the bridge they closed down
because you can’t see the single lane from one side, and six teenagers died.
This is to say, “I’m not going to go down there again. I’m not.”
The drift will make a perfect imprint of my face when I fall.
It’s not even supposed to be snowing; it’s summer.
IV- Prayer to the Tomb of Horrors (First Edition)
“You can’t go to war
without cutting your hair
short—you just can’t.
You can’t move so quietly
through the stiltgrass
because its midges and gnats
will eat you up terribly,
and I can’t suture you
again with Christmas
tree tinsel, not this time.
You can’t chain yourself
to these rocks and this rebar
when you’re in love
with the steelworker;
he won’t see you without
your hair, and we will end up
building this big, rock-candy war machine together.”
V- Benediction to the Goddess of Gardeners, Colorado, and Non-Migratory Birds:
When I was young, I plunged a fork
through Reason’s knee, and smote her
atop a hill with electrical pylons.
I slipped a magic ring from her finger
and lost it in the back of a friend’s car.
These are the pitiless delights of being nineteen.
I am not archangelic; Reason’s buzzard-clean body
between two electrical pylons seems to say,
“What lives here is cunning and splendid.”
it’s nineteen degrees, and I’m listening
to this guy I just met go on about his
naval aspirations, while I’m putting out
my third cigarette by the winterberry
bush, so this house doesn’t burn to death.
It’s dark, and I’m grinding the stub
into where the azaleas used to hedge
their bets and laugh at me.
I’m wishing I still had that ring, so
I could join the buffalo in their huddled
pilgrimage through the streets:
homegoing, angry, nude,