I expect we will always argue about
fixed conclusions of a chair —
that image of defeat so raw
it could be hanging, stinking beef
unabated by the wind.
Call it fealty to dreams, to rivers
drying as we speak —
if you guess I’ll yield
to rolling wheels with arioso grace,
you’ve not met my real soul
who thinks that even tortured legs are still
a poem with missions in their syllables.

You will say I have more strength
than monuments of will I know.
You will say that chancre is a cornered bird
in rooms we never knew were there.
And I will say I’m featherless,
a brittle corpse that mourns
the facts of wings erased.
I will see these body parts
as idle, feckless, useless strings.
Health is blind and illness sees
what happens to the fallen leaf.

I won’t be sitting happily
in soft green sarsaparilla grass
salving the going bone —
reading a book clothed
in chamois leather flesh —
liking who I am inside.
Ugly as this honesty may be
to such defensive love,
I will be staring at lightless stars
glued to an onyx sky — reaching
for a .38, if only in a metaphor.

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