you are stoned
cold fluorescents

you are two hundred miles
away from lake erie in
the first summer of your
son’s tiny life and
the news isn’t

a tumor possibly
or a body dug up or
maybe as many as
a hundred

maybe the neighbor disappeared
and his wife found
hacked to pieces in the

all of this talk of
a simpler america that
never was

and do you still dream of
the cages
your grandfather helped build?

of the women
herded into them at

even here
three hundred years later
in this air-conditioned room
there is till the smell
of burning witches

is still the stench of

and what the two of us hide
is the fact
that we know each other

that we number
the bleeding horse among
our friends

and at the end of the day
you lock up your desk while
i kiss your wife good-bye

we pass on the street
without a word
and two hours later
the first candle is lit on the
hill of fifteen crosses

like everything before it
it will fail to
drive the dark away

poet found naked in the room of mirrors

or this man i know with his
blind devotion to an
invisible god and his fear
of the niggers and the
fags and the jews

do i laugh at
what he says?

at who he is?

or maybe his hatreds are
nothing more than
a distorted reflection of my own

maybe he’s only the monster
i can see myself becoming

my father reborn
or any of his friends
drunk and laughing on a
sunday afternoon fifteen years
before the missing girl is
even born and maybe
you’re the same

i will have us all condemned
this day is over

defining myself unclearly in the season of crows

standing in the
yellow light of december
trying to believe in war

casting a shadow along the edge
of whiskey hill road

i am not a ghost yet but have
been playing with
the idea of disappearing

have been considering that
what i may actually be afraid of
is happiness

that what i may actually be
in love with is fear

i spent twenty-seven years fighting
not to be my father’s son
then married a woman who wanted
only those things i was
unwilling to give

found myself in a falling house
with the need to
inflict my anger upon others

and it’s not that
i’m opposed to vengeance
and it’s not that i don’t believe
in freedom

it’s that i have walked through
the screaming crowds promoting
their own self-righteous hatred
outside of abortion clinics
and i have no faith in their god

i have no use for their dogma

i will not be branded a witch
by anyone as lost
as myself

in the empty house where no one believes in empty houses

in the empty house
where no one believes in
empty houses
truth is not an object
with any value

a man says [i]i love you[/i]
to his wife
or he doesn’t
and either way she has
already left him

a child is found murdered
in the bathroom and
then another
and then three more

the words
[i]there is something wrong here[/i]
are left unspoken

the refrigerator hums
and the clocks run backwards
and the kitten is two months old
but will have to be
given away

and why should it live
in the face of these
five drowned children?

the answer depends on
who you ask
and it’s too fucking hot today
for these abstractions

say the word five times
and get it over with

dead dead
dead dead dead

go to the kitchen to find
a cold beer

call your wife’s name and wait
the rest of your life
for an answer

horse dying in the here and now

ahh christ

the horse bleeds like
something you almost

stumbles away from the teeth
towards the light
and by the time you arrive
it’s all over

the throat vanished
the flies beginning to gather
the song all but

the carnage rises up

swarms against your eyes like
one of your father’s stories
from viet nam

like your mother or
even better
your sister

how many years ago?

four at least
maybe five

left arm broken
two teeth gone and still
she wouldn’t call
the police

said she loved him

said she loved
the next one too and
the one after that and
the bruises were clouds in
an autumn sky

the sky was
a pack of dogs circling
the sun

was something you
never managed to forget
and then this horse dying
in the here and now and
all you can do is

all you can do is wait

your life up to this point
the small frightened
dream you always
knew it would

the poet takes his place in the actual world

fuck this idea of
poetry reaching back to
embrace the past

i will not worship
the martyred or the immortal

it’s enough to be stuck in
this town of defeated old men
as they shuffle aimlessly
up and down anonymous streets

it’s enough to watch the
factories burn

and i have driven in every direction
and i have seen nothing but
more of the same
and i am only waiting for the news
that reagan is dead

i am only waiting to hear
from a friend
who hasn’t written in a decade
that all is forgiven

and i have a job that will never be
anything worth describing
and i have a son who will someday
want nothing more than to
escape his father

what i give you hear is a
pale blue november sky bleached to white at the edges

the drone of a plane and the
sound of wind through bare trees
and there is a house of
delicate bones in this picture
that i call my home

there is a river that holds
the body of
a fifteen year-old boy

it doesn’t bother me that i’ve
outlived him
but maybe it should

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