past and present
Someone in another room, dead or listening,
and your father on the floor where they
found him, back against the stove, cold cigarette
in an ashtray on the counter.
You tell the story or you listen to it,
and it has nothing to do with you.
you turn to the woman, a stranger's wife,
and you run your hand up the soft curve of
her stomach and then back down,
and then the phone rings.
We pretend no one's home.
A doorknob rattles, then footsteps in the
driveway, and I can't remember whether or not
I locked the back door.
I creep upstairs to tell me son that
it's okay, but his room is empty. Isn't
where I remember it being.
Only boxes here, and sunlight cutting
through dust, and a stack of books on an
unused kitchen chair.
Only someone else's past.
five below zero, driving into the sun,
cemetery gates stained orange and red,
the names of my children ground into
the pavement, bitter with the taste of
salt, hungry like christ on that last
morning, hung over or stoned, horny,
and the blood running into his eyes
the dogs chewing judas down to the bone,
crows at his tongue,
ramshackle apartments giving way to
empty storefronts, factories filled with
cancer, and that i am just like you
that i believe in money, and in
leaving the weak behind
that i have grown sick of this woman
telling me she loves me
that i have grown sick
You tell them you’re a poet
and they look at you funny
You tell them you’re a killer
or a rapist
You tell them nothing
It sounds good