She ties a tiny bell to the claw
of a bird. A chunk of bagnuette
to the other. This way she’ll
know when to wake up or remember
to eat. When the bird dies,
she over-boils the lobster soup.
With deep sense of primal grief,
she sleeps with all manner
of crustacean. They stay in
the heave of her cast shadows
while she is still dreaming of birds
and bells and the necessary
order of things. They ponder
the mystery of saltwater and
rising flesh. Their thoughts
always crawl back to the shadows.
I was homeless until the age of 14. I was taken in by a Romanian woman who hid flattened wasps between the pages of paperback novels. In an empty supermarket, we’d enact the usual breakfast scenario: spill sugar, cry over nothing, run from the table as if an old truth resurfacing with a twist. She was later arrested for shoplifting. I stole the shopping cart she forgot to return. When her husband returned from overseas to reclaim her, I smashed the windows on the second floor, poured honey on my cuts, waited patiently for the bus in the rain. I knew I’d meet her, or some version, again. She’d pretend she never met me. But she would watch me from the back of her head, as if I was really everywhere I shouldn’t be.
Bad neighbors keep popping up like flies on my King’s Market mushroom. I’m infested with their soap operas. Not even a minor character in their teleplays. My wife wishes to turn to soup. Small turtles start disappearing in the house. The neighbors blame the accidents on concave streets and tunnels. My wife threatens to have affairs with men who sound like elliptical fish. I joke that I should buy a gun that fires lampoons. The neighbors refuse to leave. No solace until Sunday. My wife blanches hermeneutic frog legs.
She stays up all night tweeting to the boy who almost was. The tweets never go anywhere. Or during the day, she becomes absent minded herself, dropping cayenne pepper and caraway seed in a mysterious stew that he would like. If he was. She imagines the boy too thin to be trapped between buildings, a whisper past a corner. Just a hair away and she could snatch him, breathe his life into hers. He’d be grateful for a moment and her thoughts would vanish. Or keeping up with the brisk pace of the crowd, a sloppy procession of inflated wish-walkers, she listens to the sound chips in her brain. Not this morning’s doom metal on the radio. But his voice sculpting the outline of her life in perfect refrains and bridges. He made her see-through as air. Could he catch the bullet heading for her? The marriage to a man who takes third helpings of everything on his plate and belches when he thinks she’s asleep. That man is too heavy for rope bridges, too short to throw stones over the tea-colored ponds. She would rather listen to the ants than distracting herself during another night of fractured sex. Perhaps the boy’s lightness is his camouflage. Perhaps her inability to see him clearly gives her reason to climb the sloping streets, to consider in a moment’s doubt to buy him new clothes in the bazaars. If she could turn him into hard jewel, he’d be a 10 on the Mohs scale. She’d rub her fingers over his face as if a ruby in the dark, or see through his colorlessness is if a diamond. You’re wearing me down, she’d say with a sigh. When really, we should wear each other. If he was. If he was only hiding. If he was anywhere at all.
The girl is too far from where I am.
I’m with my head of a friend, a freak
who still denies Oswald and conspiracy.
We’re in his room listening to
Them Changes by Buddy Miles.
For me, everything changes too slowly.
It’s night and the smell of hibiscus
wafting through the window, later,
the rubber of burning tires
by a crazed greaser brother.
My friend blows hash rings into his shadow
claims he could float if he was just all hair.
The night becomes an undefined mouth,
a shape ghost-sculpting itself,