A Breakdown, Television Style
Look, I know how it is: you are quivering
with untapped energies.
All you need
is to share them. So you call your brother,
Gabe, but for the millionth time
he’s too busy â€“ this time,
with Jello. Coffee. The fine Colombian
might soak up some of your disappointment.
And your wannabe-fashion-model leap
from boxers to briefs hasn’t changed a thing.
Now there’s only one place left to go
but the cat looks away
and will not warm your ankles.
From deep within comes a rumbling
and it won’t settle into that familiar
There is sharp pain: your soul
sears through your side
and streams off into a cold night
receptive only to radio waves and satellite signals.
The delirium tremens of the mind
set in. You flick on the TV. In Star Trek
Scotty is sweating
with a wrench. The warp drive
is whining in the engine room.
Three crew members are in mid-teleport
between a beastly threatening world
and the Enterprise. Their atoms hum around
seeking their places. Some talking head genius
from a self-help program flares up from memory:
“a breakdown is when you no longer
know your own form.”
The script of your mind flatly states,
“Two options: Girlfriend or Mom.” You choose
the latter because this is important
but all she can do is tell you about the drapes.
You crumble in on yourself
like some futuristic home on fire in a `50’s B-movie.
Thank God for the TV.
It speaks eloquently for you: half the code
for Lieutenant Dekker got lost in space
and the thing that came through shrieked. All lungs, all throat…
The kids are stir-crazy from stale air.
They go outside and sink lawn chairs to the bottom of the pool.
Someone should holler then towel off their wet heads
but there is no mother, no father, here.
The older kids drown lawn chairs in the deep end
while the four-year-old tugs at a poolside table.
There is no mother, no father, here.
The four-year-old has nearly a thousand words and one of them is flower.
The four-year-old tugs at the table but it won’t budge.
The older kids turn on the hot tub, march her over to it.
It’s a boiling vat, they say. She has just under a thousand words.
She doesn’t understand. She thinks it will transform her into a queen.
Prentending they’ll let go, they lean her over the foaming water.
She sees a queen with a bowl of stemless white roses.
She needs to be the queen. The queen gets the big flowers.
In her dream the big flowers slip away as they reach down to her mouth.
She sees a queen and the big flowers lean down to the queen’s lips.
Only the queen can have their attention.
The impossible flowers melt away when they reach for her mouth.
Her mouth is open. And she waits.
One of those houses so fired with light
from the street it looks like there’s no floor
but an opening to some glaring absolute.
A woman stands and cuts onions there.
Muscles flay her forearms, underscored
by light. She thirsts and salt rides light
down her throat. Still green plants sweat.
The lights says this is a woman I own.
Say SCREW YOU. Hands on hair. SEE ME DANCE.
Not good enough. Not good enough. No.
Cords clutch her neck and she twists light into chance.
They whirl in the windows and it looks like love.
Love twists that pale house into pure hair.
She whirls out light. She whirls light from her hair.