Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MEDICINE BOTTLE

imagine the medicine bottle wakes up
and its amber glass
shows no sign of life
because it is dark inside
the cabinet above the sink,
imagine it somehow reads
its own label backwards
and derives some
meaning from it, realizing
it is responsible
for all the household’s
throats or stomachs or veins,
imagine a new burden
sitting so deathly still
within the green or golden tonic
no rippling wave or
nervous hiccup can disturb it,
run to your cabinets
all of you and try
to open the door in time
to see the image of some bitter root
floating in the bubble of a dream.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A BRIGHT GREEN VINE

A BRIGHT GREEN VINE

she has found the extra button
on the inside of one sleeve
of her blouse. she traces its edge
with her finger and I picture
her brain making the same
delightful ding of a typewriter
being reset at the end of one line:
she says she doesn’t mind selling
her soul in a world where
spares are so easy to come by.
we are sitting in the parking lot
of the bakery on main street
and we are hungry, so hungry
all we have planned for the
rest of the day is talking about food.
I am wondering if paper is more
nutritious than I know
and whether or not I could eat
a book slowly until payday.
I tell her the library has a dictionary
that might keep us alive for weeks.
she says she’d rather steal
and if she steals she says I better
steal too. I don’t know why.
are you kidding? she asks.
any judge might understand why
a rational person might be driven
to steal food, but not if they’re caught
with a person eating a book.
well, I say, changing the subject,
this would all be easier if adam
and eve hadn’t fucked up the garden
of eden. we could be feasting on
tangerines and roast chicken right now
stark naked and happy as clams.
it’s the way God intended it, I say.
she says she knows and asks
if I have any idea how much larger
the church was that one year
when the germans claimed
the body of Christ actually came
in the form of a gingersnap
and I can hear the dry soil inside
her stomach turning as
a bright green vine begins to grow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

KEEPING BETTY PAGE

KEEPING BETTY PAGE

you said the only thing you brought
to Iraq that wasn’t standard issue
was a Betty Page poster you kept
folded up into a hundred tiny squares
so that when you unfolded it
it looked like some sort of pinup quilt
you said Betty went where you went
because the army no longer considered
a girl from the fifties ‘pornographic’
and besides, who could turn her down?
there was something about the way
she wore spiked high heels even when
she was climbing trees or ironing sheets
and the jungle green bible in your rucksack
had a loosely bound spine which left
ample space for her buxom body
between the leaves of Luke and John.
but what about your men, I wanted to know,
did they bring anything from home?
you said you made a point of
never giving two shits what another man
had stashed in his hundred pound bag
but I suppose they had pictures too, you went on,
although I knew a guy who brought
a piece of gum his girlfriend had chewed.
it’s strange, you said, what we hang on to
because I still have Betty folded up today
in an antique cigar box at home but
I haven’t unfolded her in years for fear
she’ll collapse in a heap of dust.
I just like knowing she’s there, you said,
creased edges and all
and yes I do know she had a hard life
with a pervert father and a mom who was
permanently out to lunch
but I’d feel more pity for her, you said,
if she didn’t look so damn sinful with
a red rose between her teeth.

Monday, December 1, 2008

SEASON OF WAITING

perhaps it is because we are in the season of waiting
those months when empty streets pull the wind down from
a silver-white sky, churches drape themselves in violet cloth
and candles are left burning on windowsills at night.
perhaps this is why I see no point in opening my curtains
day after day, putting my pen to paper beneath an open window.
what is there to see now that is not greater than itself,
greater than its own reflection in my eye?
I’ve hung the sign of the times on my front door.
winter is winter, the key to all birth woven into a wreath of cedar.
outside, the squirrels have stopped screaming at each other
and hold their tails over their frost-bitten heads as it snows.
it is the same for me. I’d rather close my eyes right now,
sleep through the old ceremony of time renewing itself.
above the city, plump rats are scaling the same telephone wires
and running, always running, to see what they know is here.