when I hear anyone say anything
I reach for my Browning.
when the grocery checkout girl
returning some change
touched my hand in an unusual way
I cried in the car. I don’t know why.
in my head I live well
and the world looks like this:
you cut an orange into geometric zags
and lay it open on its peel.
an objective correlative, if you will,
an image of reality to aim for,
but do you know what comes
of superior poetics
in the back room of that bar?
when somebody taps the 8 ball
the sound is like laughter
ripping against an unseen jaw.
no no no.
I am going back to my room.
the western Roman empire
should not simply be a footnote.
you too will eventually collapse!
and then I will walk the empty streets with a broom,
moving the rats and rubble.
I’ll try to get the icons to make sense on the walls.
it will be my place.
I won’t let anyone scorch it
with their mind.
hey Alice, hey David,
in our own spaces, in town,
down by the burned out buildings,
by the railroads active and otherwise,
under Route 80,
it’s all right, I get all right,
I make angels.
but on bare islands off of South Carolina,
Heaven is a town where the fireball forgot me,
and I’m other to the ones who nod
as they pass on the sidewalk,
maybe guessing at my life
but mostly they just smile
sell me wine and ride by my tiny house
without knowing I dread the loss of Heaven.
and just like the Bank of America building,
an antenna juts out of my head,
halves my skull, and
changes color depending on who’s being
I give off
in all directions
invisible signals, waves of gloom and
misfortune, causing people within a range
to lose paychecks
and fall out of airplanes.
in front of
coffee shops and
I eat lunch
church youth groups
and tell the kids:
but gluttony for revulsion
is never enough.
mama! I feel special!
I don’t like it.
I need a shit
and a shave
a new name,
a new room where
I can sleep all day
on my bloodstained
balled up clothes,
a table at the parish center–––
an office on an oil field in Alberta,
an apartment at the seaside friary–––
to make my bed on the edge
of the sword of the wilderness
because of the cannibal famine
in the city.
an advertisement for a bank
says to raise up my own flag.
an advertisement for a book
shows an image of the book itself.
I resent being an individual.
I feel like a pile of pigeons on a slice of bread,
fleas in the gravel,
a major constellation of disasters.
I pace around
one eye open
I’ve got a stinging in my fists.
I want to knock some fucker down.
where did I first see
funereal with all of it
one eye open
one closed, but one open.
I don’t know anything about boxing.
I sit still and picture
two men leading a different kind of dance
back and forth on the red earth,
on a cow’s skull.
I could have been a boxer
if I weren’t born petite bourgeois–––
a whole lot of irrelevant doors were bolted shut when
my father picked his way
out of that urban working class, but
mainly I came up soft,
too soft to face up to punches.
now it’s too late,
gone gummy and frail.
there are no fighters with
teeth like these,
teeth like the windows
in an office building.
that’s why I quit baseball
and why I gave a speech doing it–––
my fourth grade social studies teacher was
an ideological mess, and
somewhere I decided I could learn Latin,
“you must devote yourself
to the classics,” right, and
now I can only eat on couches with the TV blaring
and my head is caved in with
but boys like me still learn to be terrible.
we find alternative paths to meanness
I’m only turned on by heavy industry
and flaws in concrete.
I think I’m real smart.
I’m smarter than my forebears
and my brothers
and the leathery cretins
who show up
at their parties–––
they’re like fungus compared to me!
could they possibly do
all that’s knotted in my belly?
they’d have ulcers in their
throats and livers in minutes,
they’d throw themselves down on their beds and
scream for their families and the men from the church.
it’s not that I see
what they can’t,
or don’t, or whatever.
I don’t see
anything in that sense.
no one does.
I long for that object of my desires
all too aware of its legs and my own,
so voyeuristic, most boring
I sit and look at the skyline
like a child home alone
googling “naked ladies.”
there’s no point
positioning myself in opposition
to anything ever,
some noble Other,
moral or formal,
it isn’t true.
it doesn’t matter.
like that cheap white cheddar
cheese taste, it’ll be in my mouth
prefabricated longings, and
I don’t even remember where it all
it’s not too far off what they say.
towers of solipsism (or was it nihilism?)
stand amid mountains and cities
stand among heaps of trash,
looming in the dark, infantile
my ship ran aground like
a hundred years ago.
I get a stinging
in my fists.