apocryphaltext Vol. 2, No. 1
My brother has been knocked down in the street.
I imagine he is slumped on his side, in his own
impenetrable darkness, when the flat hand
of the aggressor reaches into his pocket
and the state capitol becomes bigger than his heart.
Then all gods descend to the grief pit, with sighs
the size of needle points, dancing on the hairs of an ear.
We draw out the wooden stage again, assign the players
their various heartbreaks. Shall I stop here? No.
The handkerchiefs, the stones. They must be recovered.
He loved the bird and the bee, the coffee maker,
the scissor in solution at the hair salon. Watching
Patrick hand the bread to Samuel, he marveled
at the maple wood table where they sat. With all men
he was a man who stood straight backed; Frederick
had a secret he kept snapped inside his pants.
The day that he was struck by his bad luck,
by his blood type, Frederick wanted it back:
the racquet ball, the rotary phone, his bare feet
cooling in the reading room. After hiding
in his hospital bed, he grew tired of shame,
he shook fists. Raw deal, he said. Shitty hand.
With her head turned away from the house that was burning
she was turning the wheel of her car. I was standing
in the closet with my mouth open, one hand covering
the bloody cut above my eye. The low chords swelled
in the droops between the foothills and the Lord
shook His head in admonishment of me. He spoke my name
with no sweetness to the ring of it. When I walk back
into the winter calendar where I am a flat-headed coin,
the sound of her voice is a bell buried in the ground.
Raw eye, blink. The town appears again. Tell why.
Tie One On
Stranded at the bar with Jerry Paradise, the river machine hums.
He says Don’t buy your way out of the heat of the sun—
after all, this is his garbage in my hands: children’s toys
and pencil ends and vintage ceramic cups. Close your eyes
and imagine a thing better than toast in snow, a large man
lost in the blizzard, the sweet hip of the place. Someone
finds a flame to hold to the wick. The whiskey
comes out, there is egg on my face. My squid eyes burn.
I spent one year smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, walking around
in my Mets cap, carrying a polished pine cane. I told them to tie me
to a standing tree while I sweat it all out, to leave me with my date book
and a few clips of old friends: Kara rounding the corner of Atlantic
and Bond, Cassandra’s sleeping hand fallen over the bed. Even now
my first love is a flapping page inside my brain. The whole thing
is swift and marvelous: the break-up, the burials, the unsinkable sea.