You don’t burn out your eyes
looking at a star in the middle
of the night. But find it on
a line that lies inside
a constellation, and you’re blind.
“And if you gaze long enough into
an abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.”
I’ve been gazing here for too long a time
to turn my head away, and for too short a time
to match the pair of eyes on the other edge
of the darkness.
It took me until last night
to see how long the shadows cast by
the evergreens along the far side of my lawn
take to reach my front steps.
In every storm,
the rain rusts
the classic cars I poured
last month’s rent into.
The cars in a salvage yard
no wider than a lawn,
bound to be scrapped
for sculpture art.
In every storm,
I think about how I will help make art,
art that may one day be placed
in a public park, or in a museum
with a cover charge.
A wife can outlive her husband,
a husband can outlive their son,
by decades. When the gravedigger
digs their grave and the mason creates
their stone, the mason etches
the husband’s name and dates of birth
and death, the wife’s name under the title,
“His Wife,” and her dates of birth
and death, and the son’s name and
his dates of birth and death.
In advance, a wife can arrange
with the mason to have her name
and date of birth etched on her stone.
So, when the wife dies, the mason
can easily add her date of death on.
Out from my uplifted hand,
I release my contraband of
“This is no time to be making new enemies,”
Voltaire said, reclining in his deathbed,
asked by a priest to renounce Lucifer.
Here, I have to concur.
My books are picked up, one by one. The
librarian mutters thanks without conviction.
Tonight, the pages burn in my neighbors’
lanterns. I will not rise in the morning.
I will be asleep, under the darkness
of my sheets, years after my pages
Orange juice laps down Pennsylvania
Avenue, and people touch their lips
to the flood to lap up the pulp.
No one quite knows where
the juice flows from. All that people
know are clues murmured on
gusts of the autumn wind.
With all the townsfolk distracted,
the Pied Piper breaks into homes
and steals away baby photos in a sack.
With no one looking, Fatty Arbuckle
continues his one-man protest
outside the Supreme Court, praying
aloud for an appeal.
He smells citrus in the breeze,
hears the shatter of glass,
and still he stands,
as the townsfolk whisper
next to a river.