And This Is Where I Pick Up the Machine Gun

You are a detached retina.
I’ve taken up wearing a coonskin hat,
searching out fried chicken.
There is something about blindness
that makes me want to cradle your bones
after you die. But I’m afraid

geography makes no sense.
Each place becomes a way to remember
leaving you: the living room,
Cincinnati, Kingston, anyone’s funeral,
a church service the week after Easter.
Anything less would be a hostile takeover.

Anything more would be the world trapped
in the crook of my elbow. There are no maps
to trace, to angle ourselves against sunsets
and the moon lumbering into flatness.
Somewhere in New Mexico or Costa Rica
you caught rain in that blind eye,

and I watched it pool over, turn
into the Amazon River, lonely, with no natives.
I drank from it, your glazed iris stuck
against eyelid, the clearness of water
something to remember, to stretch
across tongue, across each rock we kept

buried in the backyard: the wars we had
no treaty for, the graves we always assumed.



When You’ve Become Your Father, That’s When You Embrace Euthanasia

I mean that only out of love.

It’s the kind of love that involves plastic
forks, paper plates left over
from the Reagan Administration.

I don’t even remember him.
Maybe I really do mean it
like a man flailing out of a room

means to distract you from the broken
chair legs and aged pineapple. Maybe it’s more
related to failing, a Napoleon collapse.

We’re too tall for that.

I don’t actually mean any of it
subjectively. It’s all about objective
transgressions: I took back the ring, took back the rent check,
wrote on each bedroom wall, watched her cry
about running over the dog or her purse. It was an ending

I don’t remember. Perhaps I’m looking to hold her
accountable: the scratches, the stitches, the car
left rotting with wasted fuck sessions.

But this is about love.

Father, I’ve spent too much time dying
because of thistle and ragweed. I’ve thorned
my way into love with tender zealotry.

But there was never anything for me
except for too-small galoshes and an excuse
to destroy puddles, front lawns.

When I disappeared into mud, father,
I know you caught the holy spirit
and left it on the front step.



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