Joining the Circus
The crags and pebbles are your face
and the sun stings like the tang
of lime, cilium tickle the cotton,
the folks smoke porches.
I am independent of a country
of independence, my constitution
irregular. I have diuretics of phonetics.
You have a vocabulary for amoebas,
that is, for speaking with them.
The train slides through the tunnel,
amongst other clichéd sexual metaphors.
There’s a rocking. My backne acts
up. That earlier-mentioned cilium—
flagellum for cotton zygotes: we own
this Southern legacy. Today I hammered
away at locusts. I missed everything
but my thumb. Now my thumb
has thickened into a hot air balloon.
It carries me skyward and from here
I see your face in boulders. We
could have joined the circus and thrust
nails through our nipples.
We’d have drowned in cotton candy.
Waddle outside Nevada
for once, forget sage
sprinkling the desert.
Come east and taste these trees.
I’ll whisk the grits
from your tear ducts. I’ve only just learned
to enjoy grits. So, this is new
also to me, this corn waving
down goodbyes. I miss Mexican
food, the hazy Sierras, no mosquitoes,
cheap Pabst. One downside:
everyone here loves PBR,
which drives prices heavenward.
Also, churches occupy all
space. In fact, I live in a giant
church. Jesus is my landlord.
He whistles Dixie while twisting
washers onto dripping faucets. Oh, Jesus,
we never asked for you
to stop the onslaught of water.
Everything is super sweet or super
salty: iced tea: islands of sugar
in amber fluid. Barbecue pork ribs:
oh, fuck metaphor: they’re salty
as shit. But we could walk
along the Ocoee, we could drown
in the air—so much
we can’t speak for all the breathing.
Imagine you’re an amoeba! All slink
and wobble, groaning out
for promecia. That freedom
of movement. Could you wash
your hair and leap the river?
Barbecue your guns. Call me
your Southern problem, call me
your reconstruction project, call
me and say you’ve bought a ticket,
and this time, you mean to use it.
In the beginning there was light
that shone in my eyes and tickled
the hairs of my brows till they fell,
leaving me bald and old
as the oranges withering in the fridge.
My father had come to die in California,
the poppies sprouting on the hillsides.
I wheeled the old man
through the sand to the shore
where we stared into the sun sliding
into the Pacific with the hiss of waves
a chorus of snakes.
She never saw the ocean.
She had loved me, even
in an end without words.
I wanted her feather curls,
her napkin skin, an apology.
My father’s wife, my mother,
had been an ice pick, not even the ice,
a device meant to shatter the coldest
of cold into shards for debutante drinks.
I turned him—old as the car
we’d driven, a dimmed classic.
The sunset faded into night. A vendor
peddled orange carnations, the last
bright thing this side of the Earth.