the rooms in this house


animals caught in
baited traps

or the air thick
and yellow

the sun shapeless

and the pieces of
a sixteen-month old girl
are found in a city
five hundred miles away

the smell
of battery acid
like a blanket over

and the rooms in
this house are familiar

the bodies found hung
from the trees outside
have names i’ve
heard before

and i don’t
live here anymore but
maybe at some point
in the past

maybe before
the first tiny hand
was dropped into a
food processor

and now i live
while faceless men
decide my future

but not quite the god
of starving dogs

this by itself a
reason to live

st. garbage, resurrected

in the blue and the purple light
on the shadowed sides
of these houses

in a room with a cracked window
and the ghost of edie
crawling naked across the floor

i am my father at 34
and his own father before him

i am the face my children fear
and the voice
and the raised hand

i am the emptiness and
the absence of warmth
and america is
its own form of violence

the boy is dead
next to his sister in the
back of the van

the father drives
with the radio on softly

with dylan’s voice dragging itself
through my headphones
as i sit at the foot of the bed
watching april sleep

and do you remember
the hill of fifteen crosses?

the girl you fucked there and
the way she couldn’t
remember your name?

and what about the man who
tells you you’re not a poet?

what about the way war feels
from 10,000 miles away?

all of the butchered
without faces or names and
the reasons you choose to hate

the people

and some of them i’ve known
and others have just written
to ask for favors and
in the end
there is only this street as it
crashes into the highway

this back yard turning brown
in the cold grey air of

in the blue and the
purple light of early evening

this house too cold to
ever be a home

speaking freely, but in the wrong person

you think about words and
about the places they come from

you think about meaning

about these small beautiful images
that the poets polish like valuable stones

that are worth
the tiniest fraction of nothing
and against them you place your
grey slabs of self-hatred

you talk about the burning girl
long after her ashes have grown cold

and you remember reagan
as a monster

as a vampire
but you have reached
a point in time where no one else
wants to speak the truth
about the dying

you have become
a man defined as angry because
this is what fear looks like
when seen from outside one’s own skin

and it matters that you love your wife
or at least it should
and so you act like it does

you walk an uncertain line
between making promises and
telling lies

you end up thinking about words

mapping out the here and now

blood on the sheets
and you laugh

blood on the walls

the daughter
in the mother’s arms and
both of them dead

the boyfriend picked up
800 miles away

says he loves her but
can’t explain the gun

can’t explain the rope
around gorky’s neck or the
poet’s need to pick at
these open wounds

the ay the buildings burn
without reason

the cities where they
begin to dissolve
into suburbs and strip malls

your smile in
the weak sunlight of an
august afternoon

the way you taste

all of these things
held together by the
sheer force of anger


each day like filth
scraped from the eye of god

each moment pure

and i offer no explanations
when i tell you that
both are true

i eat dinner while paul hill
is put to death

i have seconds

and how is it that
in all the years i wasted in school
i never learned about
the babi yar ravine?

in whose blood are the names
of all the slaughtered

picture the world reduced
to those who would invent the machine gun
and those who would use it

picture mercy as
being allowed to die before
your daughters are raped

remember that malevich had his reasons
for painting white on white

remember that pollock knew them

that he dreamed his own death

and does anyone care when a
pedophile priest is murdered?

is the world a better place when
his bones have been
picked clean by the crows?

it gets to the point where
every question is only a means
of avoiding the truth

where august becomes september
and none of us
can offer any comfort

and what i think about is
this waitress on her knees in a
dirty bathroom with her
pants undone and a stranger
standing over her

what i think about is
how good hatred feels

all of the ways it can be
turned into power

vallejo, with apologies

at some point
america is supported by
nothing but the bones of
goebbels’ children

at some point
the starving have nothing to eat
but each other

and august of course
dissolves into september
and a seven year-old boy is hit
by a car while playing in the street
in front of my house

and what if no one
knows where he lives?

what if dali wakes up in a
room on fire?

at some point
there has to be a distinction between
reality and art

a woman’s eyeball sliced open
or a baby found dead in
a plastic bag on a street corner

my son drawing airplanes
at the dining room table

his smile
when i tell him a joke

all of the days i’ve wasted
waiting for
the future to arrive

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