Dog Head Park
When he gets drunk, Larry tries to kill himself
because he says he would rather die in battle
than grow old, but we all know
he stole the line from War Party
(in which the Indian heroes charge
the national guard with tomahawks
and clubs they stole from a museum).
One time, he got his ass kicked in a fight he started
when he came upon a group of drunks in the woods
and attacked them with a log. He said they fought
like dogs and their teeth
were as white and foul as the stars and tore
off most his skin that will never grow back.
They left him to die in the brush and the mud.
One time, when we were all drinking
he told us our ancestors ate their dogs.
And that they deserved to be conquered,
so we tore off the rest of his skin.
Wild horses gather at midnight around
the fire of the local bar where they drink
from trough beer and talk crazy dreams in a
language even they can’t understand. When
they tell us their stories they punctuate
them with hoof beats. They look for broken twigs.
They speak broken English. When the sun comes,
their carcasses are eaten by buzzards.
After the bones are cleaned, the skeletons
sink into prairie grass to be dug up
by anthropologists who glue and stitch
and wire them back together. In order
to preserve horse culture, they save the bones
and sell them back to the horses at midnight.
Some country is changing
shape, these people fleeing
those people. It is difficult
to name what these people
leave behind. They might open
closets and dresser drawers
but then close them: the wool
coat, so long saved for, too
bulky, the lace underwear still
wrapped in tissue. They might
carry bundles on their backs,
or bags in both hands. Or,
they carry children, wailing
infants swaddled in cotton,
runny-nosed toddlers who
would otherwise fall behind.
By sunset, they walk or run
in orderly rows. Their path
barely lit. The sky a slate on which
no stars dare write a name.
Callow. I once wore you like a limp.
You were throttling and you clung to my waist.
I crowded around the fire exit to the theater
hoping flecks of star carrion might flake off
and pollinate my mouth, and I would find myself
no longer mortified by the persistence of hunger.
Certain there was more than one way
to stop the water from rising,
I hunted down keys for the canal locks.
My ear canals inflamed, I coveted
totems I had no part in sculpting. I devoured lampposts
and out of tune bicycle racks. Maimed.
I limped in honor of your cellophane blush
and the rats roosted
in asphalt that threatened
to unveil me and denounce the rehearsed crimp
in my posture. I was frigid
beneath sycamore sewer lines where we last
pretended to be thunder.
I wanted the floor to rise
without having to pay
the debt in bouts of nausea. I wanted to not need
the weight of compliments and I wanted to be
the melody that warded off
the catcalls of accountants
and traffic wardens. Wingless. I caroused
through convention halls hocking sofa covers
and commemorative plates like a dry-docked
salmon on probation. Defaulted.
I slipped on the epoxy of the ballroom floor
and into parrhesiac moss.
gather in silos of saltshakers
and folded linen. They wait impatiently
for another round of green pills and butter
pats, as if there were no such thing
as a precipice. In a few minutes the factory
will receive a rush order for more artificial
limbs, carafes filled with antidotes
are served to the un-afflicted. The Unscathed
take leave of their plans to inhabit Montauk
for the month of August. Robust delivery
trucks obstruct the view of plasma drying
out on the boulevard. The Unscathed wonder
if it is too late to catch the metro north back
to the musicals they attended in the last
century. The bistro’s grade is pending,
and starlings collude upon the bell
tower, waiting for the Unscathed to drop
their pastry crusts off at the nursery.
Tea pot. Meat grinder. Cyanide kiss.
A vale of eloquent vultures. School will
let out early this afternoon. The Unscathed
will receive a message reminding them that
blood is not thicker than pixels. Undulation.
Sigh. In just a few moments someone
at the bar will complain that they have
waited far too long for their check.