before my father
before my father cut my brother’s hair:
my brother unbuttons the canvas flap
brother–i’m much too drunk to see the sun
I plead with my lips, caked in african soot.
I wheeze and from the flask he drips the last
of the scotch onto my cheek until I retch
on the mud that my breath draws down my throat.
once african soot, now london tavern.
this thought of home is enough to warrant
a smirk; it stands me up, brushes me off.
my brother laughs his giant roar and grasps
his winchester resting on the lantern
that is now dead weight without any oil.
that was when, as if forced, a lion stumbled
inside the tent and laughed his giant roar.
he snatched my brother by the hand and fled.
from the tent entrance, I watched my brother
fire his last round into the african
earth, the recoil ripping his rifle loose.
weeks later, brackish tears turned me thirsty,
so I left camp for the river, which ran
no life–my brother had soaked it all in.
a wild man now, he painted himself dark
with the muck of the bed; modern fossil,
bowl-cut licked up into a crown, crying:
here I am, but a Prince! O a Casualty
of Dialectic will take me lightly
into the Infinite–this tiptoe
past the soul’s mania–explain! explain!
I follow shiny things–dull your eyes, man!
enough to be mad! to warrant baldness!
on the trail of
On the trail of littered things
chickadees gorged with potato chip crumbs
stumble out the bag and retire to nests
indifferent to the vulnerable
abundant ant colony inducing
queen ant’s nutrition fact exegesis
the truth for this auspicious plastic bag
“Total Fat 34 grams*” she preaches
blindly she fails to urge the *per serving
her parish will live about ninety days
the ink will wash out in a year or two
polyethylene degrades in twenty
the eightieth generation by this
please, please, please!
so goes a prayer
like this old lover, wilting in bed. she
gasps “love is born“, oblivious to all intention
as if Keats just had his way.
“and how perfect is the hour–look up!,
it is midnight, a relief, a release.
but we will not fall, we will not propel.
we will trade at this hour, pivoting
like children into darkness, dying men
into light,” she continues as if Frost
had just exhausted her. she finishes:
“our lives are as slow as hands do tighten,
our lives are as mute as whispers do scream.”
then in my best victorian I play,
“on the contrary, what ticks so solemn
so engrossed in your hour? how bothersome
this hand of god, impatient; this is when
we pray.” and then alas! I have my way.
who nominated inward turning
as the hazard to a soul? capital
punishment; we’ve had such success
in fried leather. Utopias are attainable
but only through prostate induced
ejaculation. strap yourself in!
…wait, shed that construct. fuck and fucked
go hand in hand during prison power outages,
timid outlets twinkle from lightning rods. a twinkle in
the shower. somebody must be shocked around here!
we thought we knew the make-up of good intention:
1. prison windows
i. televisions click and buzz
ii. cell clank echo
iii.flourescents cut slap pitch-black
iv. eight o’clock awake
v. nine o’clock awake
vi. sore and aching for anything to just dim
2. self-help literature and personality tests
i. CHOOSE 300 “OLD” and “NEW”
ii. CHOOSE 300 “GOOD” and “BAD”
iii. CHOOSE “GOOD” or “EVIL”
iv. wait until you’re fixed.
3. pedagogical porn
i. nursery boys on leashes in the library counting words per minute
ii. bookworm breasts magnified by reading glasses
iii. “that’s what she wants! somebody’s gonna grab em’! enjoy it when it happens! for everybody to feel!”
iv. “room for cream?” really means “want half a cup?”
4. the poetry at Barnes and Noble
i. a squirrel on the pine branch
ii. a tree at my window
iii. a gray squirrel on the pine branch
iv. a squirrel on the pine branch!
v. a window tree
vi. a natural tree
vii. a tree
viii. a natural nature
every year a frosty gray squirrel buries o’hara metaphors (there are only seven left!) under the window tree. and poor dean young, hands soiled, unearthing them, knowing damn well, even if the squirrel neglects some, already stuffed and hibernating, they still won’t sprout–under the window tree there is no sun!
and it’s getting winter and we’re feeling a bit dull,
so go imperatives of the soul! say “public!”
say “private.” go on–touch yourself
with metaphysical proprietorships.
say “go to school and reach for the stars!
touch each other.”
yeah. look up. there is a divine twinkle in your eye.
shudder like an inmate and wipe it off your face.