Road Trip

I packed five sandwiches into the old cooler,
smooth peanut butter and the grape jelly from the
farm market on route 14.
I’m drunk on bad ideas, with no morals left to steer me
and my CD player loops every song at the end
But most important, I’ve got a picture of you,
as you are now. Forty-two.
A different name than I ever knew,
But it’s you.
My god, it’s really you.

I packed ten bottles of water in the trunk,
The kind that taste like the smell of a lawn.
Put on my old jeans and my workboots
Brought an extra jacket, a pair of warm gloves,
and a police issue revolver from the 70’s,
The kind with no safety at all.

And when I finally find your door,
What am I going to do?
Black and blue
to my core.
What am I going to do?
Pointing right at you.
Wishing I could only do,
much, much more.

distance

Some people you push away so they don’t get hurt when you die,
Nothing to be done about it, but you still try,
Everything you see slowly slurred by falling rain,
Moving through dry streets, the pour throbbing in each vein
Past the morning psychos in their polos, in their slacks,
Whispering and rustling about your grays and blacks,
Wishing you could be alone, in silence, intact,
As you work whatever job would dare to have you back,
Thinking of someone who’d be real hurt when you die,
Thinking about how far away he’ll be when you try.

Evolution of a Horrid Thing

Sweetness dwells in the darkest pit of the Atlantic,
and everything sweet is devoured.
So, a hard shell forms, thick enough to
Break the beaks and teeth set to it,
until comes a stronger beak, and sharper teeth,
and the empty husks litter
the ocean floor.

The solution, of course, is to become so sour,
so bitter, so slimy and vile, that nothing will ever
Again seek to crack the shell.

When you lay on a blanket, underneath the stars,
you think he’s done this before, you know
you’ve taken someone else’s place-
And when his hands,
with veins bulging like tow-cables,
Run their fingertips over his shiny teeth, and
undo the buttons holding you together,
you wish you’d been a little more vile.

Better as a Memory

You are much better as a memory
of soft smiles and starlight,
forgetting all the awful things,
The thorax pins, the stretched wings,
And you are good. You are pure.
You don’t need any cure.
And I will treasure you in memory
And greedily swallow each moment
skittering like mice in the walls,
Always outside of your reach.

Unwritten

I’ve never written anything that makes me feel
as strongly as something I’ve yet to write.
Like a killdeer on the clutch
Waiting for the eggshells to shatter,
Hoping to see the soft and downy things,
excited for their childish chatter,
I’ll sit.
And wait.
Leave creation up to fate-
Maybe it’s not my fault
When the waiting goes too long,
when the shells were too thick and strong,
Maybe it’s not my fault.

One Hour Old

Sunlight spills across the blacktop,
The thawing frost brings up crocuses,
My eyes can’t focus in the cold,
and I’m one hour old.

I catch the breeze on my tongue,
Minty like that green-stick gum,
I’m alive, I’m alive,
I’m alive, I’m alive,
and I’m one hour old.

Betrayed the disease I had my faith in,
you’re doing well, so I’m told,
Some moments lift our wheels out from the mud,
and I’m one hour old.

The turkeys babble and I don’t hear it,
There’s more sounds than I can hold,
The groundhogs watch me in their coded way,
And everything is one hour old.

Visit to Massillon State Hospital

It was the only time I ever heard my father speak his native tongue,
to his sister, who now spoke only German,
and spoke it as a child speaks
with fresh starlight in each word,
and eyes that wandered to every soft edge of her room.

I did not want to be there. I would never be there again.
On the way out, a man with scars on his face slammed
his head against the barred window of his door, bringing
new scars boiling to the surface.

Father held us close at the sound, and
the worry on his face, the thought of his sister,
told of what lurks in our blood,