further west

this is
further west

away from the drowning girl’s
blackened bones

away from my son’s
beautiful smile

a motel room in
a pointless town

afternoon sunlight through
half-open drapes
and a partial view of
the interstate

in the bathroom a young mother
twenty-two or -three
naked in the tub and with
her wrists cut
wide open

the postcards in
the nightstand drawer left

the bible stolen or
never there at all

every poem a man might
ever hope to write
hung unspoken and
just out of reach in
the shimmering


we are safe in
this cheap motel room

we are
approaching drunk
and we are mostly silent
mostly in love

i am still
in the early stages of being
a failed writer

your sister’s miscarriage
is still
four years away

with any luck
we will find other ways
to measure these weightless
spans of time

uncertain prophecy for the missing and the missed

pick a day
where none of the wars
involve you

describe the sky
and the taste of the wind

do the hills spin slowly around
this piece of land you
call home?

are you in love?

there is a point
where these questions intersect

a place where your shadow is
as tall
as the man you actually are
and somewhere in the back of your mind
is a list of all the runaway girls
you knew in the summer
of butchered nuns

a list of all the reasons they gave
and now it’s ten years later
and still
no one has stopped running

it happens

anger is only another needle
waiting to be worshipped

the patron saint
of raped cheerleaders
is a myth

and these are not new rumors
and no one’s pain
is unique

no one’s future
is written

and still
it’s not that hard to guess
how badly the stories
of the disappeared
will end


you are not
in the kitchen
with jesus christ
and he is not

you are not curled up on
the cold linoleum with
your husband kicking you
in the back

your children are
not dead

tell yourself this

your children are not

weep bright red
tears of joy

the first body of the season

a year since
the god of
starving dogs

the person i was
left behind like
so much
shed skin

the person i am
content to sit by
this second story
at twilight

willing to believe
the ovens will
never be fired up

and next door
a baby cries
or maybe a mother

and two days ago
the first body
of the season
was pulled from
the river and

a small moment
buried beneath
centuries of
brutality but it
stays with me

whatever can’t be
worried to death


the hand is tiny
the mother history

out where the pacific
comes up hard against
the bitter end of
the twentieth century

where the front door
swings back and forth in
a hot breeze

and will you be
the one
to step forward and stop this
small tragedy before
its inevitable conclusion?

the answer
spoken or unspoken
is no
and you are not alone

the dogs will eat their fill
and the angels will sing
some serious fucking blues

beautiful young women will
sit at the open windows
of second story apartments
and cry

this is happening
even now

this has always been

the fragile beauty of
refusing to be destroyed
with the thing itself

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