Walking past it, you see the unnamed facility.
Humans stink. You mean, like wet cats. They crawl
up the trees mornings, so early you can’t eat.
First things first, a small carton of orange juice.
Jealousy is made of fuzzy thoughts. Benchmarks.
You were once so fresh-eyed. You brought a poem
to read and the professor, a baldy, laughed at you
for reading it in night class. You saw the old woman,
the one who didn’t know anything, smirking.
This was before designer water bottles. This was back
when mother wiped the house down with fragrant
cleaning products that makes liberalism sick.
Your parents like to retell the story: you as a toddler
pulling a wagon full of just-born puppies, while
the patient dog-mother followed. You took the pups out
and put them back in, that part makes them laugh.
Leaving work no longer feels like escaping.
Took you three years just to achieve that feeling.
That was not a good thing. They threw out my life
like someone throws out three yellow roses.
I fought the gas-lighters. I fought the smartypants.
The phone never rang at my last two jobs.
It just sat there, a relic. But it was new and black.
published in trampset
The First Time I Took My Gun to the Range
I looked at the gun and it fired.
My finger was left on the trigger
and the bullet went into the range but high
so that it left a poof-dust on the ceiling
but no one noticed—my heart
sped up, I’d literally watched fire fire from the barrel.
First lesson: never put your finger on the trigger
until you are sure of the target you want to destroy
and what’s beyond it.
That night, I thought, what if the gun
had been aiming at me? My face? My foot?
My chest? I thought about it and thought about it
until I decided not to regret anything
The following morning
I was still happy I owned a gun.
published in Rattle
We inhabit a bottom feeder world.
The pink rocks, the catfish, loaches,
sturgeon, carp, for the business of cleaning,
tending the lower half of the pressurized sphere,
below the goldfish, the tetras and swordtails,
plundering the depths for flakes of brine
and shrimp; knowing our place and keeping it
—for it feels rather sudden, the children
we bore and care for, the moon and its moon
business, palm trees and the balmy summer air,
all this goes. Our friends know it. And they
take breaks from it, as Schopenhauer said
one must, in a cave of art or on a planet of music.
In the bottom feeder world we must mind
our bounds. My father warned me: “In America,
you can only go so far.” The false surface
he meant, that seemed to glisten. Father knew
it so well, the job we’re meant to do.
published in The Florida Review