personal vipers

This was originally posted to Yum Yum Union.

There’s a certain helplessness to personal vipers — and yet usefulness
in the venomed arsenal, the piece that would part the rest.
Amputation over integration. Rogue, unreasoning,
but how solid amid so much mired ‘maybe.’
Makes me want to hold up the meanest mirror
I can manage, say: these are the rules you play by!

“Personal vipers?”

Don’t you have snakes on the inside? Sear ceramic? That unmoving
element, the unforgetful, unforgiving? Makes you want to go
on, unrelenting, forever? An angry thought that won’t get back in the box,
a judgment so petulantly un-dynamic. The fist is curled.
The marble, cut. Usually springs up for moral false-moves, but it
bites less righteously, kicks the dog — any mutt whatsoever.

acquiring dental loans

This was originally posted on Yum Yum Union.

Horses die during full moons. Not exclusively, naturally, but in greater numbers, anatomy rended, ruptured, sleek femurs stacked in a bin – something makes them goes crazy and they batter themselves against fences, or run headlong into oaks, or go trembling into water-graves, lily-pads plastered on eyelids in the morning. For horse executions, unlike those more dramatic keeling-over’s, you find one of the fatter arteries, stick that syringe in real good, and wait. Ma wanted it done with a gunshot, but there were other limping nags about and they scream when they fall (like rabbits in the heather, downed with a feathered shot) and what a whump when those asses hit dirt and how hard for the others to look on at the one culled out. So poison it is. Surgical, and sweet, but it took more than the promised minute, plus little nickering noises of distress, a mare gone mumbling whose legs folded laundry-easy under her at the penultimate moment, no whump, no screech. Similar technique to get wisdom teeth out, if intravenous, but still that same creeping cold that put old Mara out in spring, swaying, slipping in muck, and I could feel it, felt so afraid, felt like my concerns were spooling backward into the medulla oblongata, or an older alligator part — and being unwilling to bend prettily back into the mud I tugged on the needle, and seized, and scattered silver tools across the black and white tiles, surprising Dr. Charleton I’m sure, knocked shit everywhere, anything to be up and on my legs a little longer. Fun fact: a dropped (sharp) scalpel can get an inch into marble, and get you into a heck of a lot of trouble.

the mirror with the lights off

This was originally posted on Yum Yum Union.

Let me introduce you to someone important. Stand in front of the bathroom sink and flick the light-switch and there she is: a dark-room apparition. She reads all those books I buy in droves of wishful thinking, in trundles of optimism, hoping not to peruse their pages piecemeal so much as wanting a past-tense ingestion, to be the woman who read it, who ate up the classics and coughed up chicken bones. She climbed Mount Everest in eighteen months and descended (frostbitten and thereby seven-toed) with a twin on each tit, conceived (she says) from surmounting a phallic symbol. She married a man with a broken nose who did, or did not, look like her father — parental resemblance wasn’t a factor in the man or their matrimony. People palm her stretch-marks for good luck. She feeds the hungry. She is the big spoon. She rises (supple) at 6 AM and skillets up daybreak, runs four miles, stores sweat discreetly in a ponytail, which she later wrings out over grateful primroses. She is never angry, or only righteously, enough to overturn gambling tables and inspire terror in certain stripèd would-be predators. She wrote the new American novel. She beat up a (mean) bear. She has my mother’s generosity and fortitude, my father’s wit and sympathy. She speaks meaningfully. She whistles when en-route. She has a silver tooth from a boxing match; her victory assured the unionization of midwest plumbers. She tries every time. She says thank-you correctly. She shits gold, so they spread it over grain fields and then reap gilded bread, which they ladle out to panhandlers in Philadelphia, o mercy, o happy day, thank you, thank you, they say, between yellow mouthfuls. She is a sharp-shooter, a good hugger, a great dancer, a 100% successful romancer. Her optimism is infectious; it routinely re-combines and emerges, mutated, from southern Asia, a fresh strain of pandemia. When she dies, they come in crowds of black cowls to gnash teeth and touch the ruined feet, the sloping breasts, they wish to grasp the legendary bicuspid but her daughter strung it on a chain and wears it around the house, pinching it for maternal wisdom, they tell her their troubles, they open the cask twice a day for the edification of the public, when she dies they are at a loss — and she dies often, at a second flick of the light-switch, when the room goes from pure possibility to white-tile and unworthy odors, kitty litter, aging magazines, tooth-paste, she dies when I press the snooze button, she expires under cutting words, she perishes when my temper flares and when my attention wobbles, my conviction wavers, she suffers from second-helpings of blue ribbon pound cake, I garrot her with untendered apologies, I kill her with unkindness, I exsanguinate her with selfishness and sloth.

boston talk

This was originally posted on Yum Yum Union.

My voice gets faster every year
in the city of school men.
When I lived with school boys
and school wives, I talked
louder and slower.
Whether asked to or not.

If any body asks me a question,
I say
‘I don’t know’
and repeat the question.

Lots of people like that.

The trouble with a badly indexed mind
is that you can’t tell
how long
you’ve been badly indexed.

Because of a lack of organization,
you may just be noticing it now.

A possible explanation for my I-don’t-know’s.

Lots of people like to answer the questions they ask.

The trouble with perceiving the conversational impatience in others
is its inward barb:
you were just waiting to talk, too.

for fellow late-nighters

This was originally posted on Yum Yum Union.

you up late?
take my ascot
and my red lipstick
(hexadecimal #CC1100, or “Big Leg Sue“):
put them on.

go eat a banana
(hexadecimal #EEDD82, or “Potassium Lite“)
and watch bad tv
the baddest tv you can find.
i’m talking TBS, or MTV.
something you know as
three letter trash.
preferably: about teens.

put some blush on
(hexadecimal #CD5555, or “I’m Changing the Locks“)
with a pinch. turn out
the fluorescent fish light
in the livingroom,
because it’s a magic show
tv lights
and changing lights
change everything.
the coffee table is a stranger!
bad men are behind the lamp!
you are successful, and it is
sixty years ago,
before you were born
or could have been born
and your feet are exactly
the right cinderella size
and the flowers rotting in the kitchen
were just cut this morning
(hexadecimal #FCD116, or “There Goes The Neighborhood“)
and daylilies
(hexadecimal #FF6103, or “Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself“)
and baby’s breath
(hexadecimal #96CDCD, or “Of Course I’ve Read Vonnegut“)
and peach roses
(hexadecimal #FF8C69, or “I Don’t Think You Understand What
Magical Realism Means, It’s Attached to a Particular Period of
History and a Particular Region and a Particular Sect of Authors,
Do You Just Mean That There Are Certain Metafiction Elements
Going on Here? Unless You Have An Argument Ready That
I’m Talking About Lo Real Maravilloso And You’re Talking About
Magical Realism as a Natural Comeuppance of Postmodernism,
You Better Start Using That Word Properly, Buster

it doesn’t have to be sixty years ago.
it doesn’t have to be that lipstick.
you could pick that one
(hexadecimal #FF0000, or “You’re Just Like Your Mother“)
or this one
(hexadecimal #CD9B9B, or “Cultural Fugue“)
and put on some short-shorts
and pennyloafers
and watch bad tv
the baddest tv you can find.
i’m talking TBS, or MTV.
something you know as
three letter trash.
preferably: a sitcom.

and every time somebody laughs, it’s a dead relative
you never met, looking behind your eyes
and saying, “everything stays the same, don’t it, son,”
but that’s demonstrably not true
I mean
I already explained about the lights in livingroom
and maybe now the couch turns velveteen
and the freckle on your breast starts to worry you
a little
so no grandpa it’s not the same
i’m not the same as you
and sitcoms have gotten edgier

go eat an apple
(hexadecimal #8C1717, or “This Worked Out Real Well For Snow White“)
or a grape
(hexadecimal #86C67C, or “Second Cousins“)
just one.
if you’re up late
late enough that blue circles
(hexadecimal #4372AA, or “All Dolphins Were Originally Land-Dwelling Creatures,
Not Evolutionarily Speaking, They Hatch in Land-Locked Eggs on Mountain Tops
and Only the Ones on the Highest of High Peaks Have Enough Momentum
to Roll Safely Down Past Predators into the Waves
have erupted under your eyes,
know that I am with you
all of my clothes
all of my lipsticks
(all over my face)
probably sweating
but awash, even so
especially so
(grossly so)
with our possibilities.