Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arlene Ang

Bullet Hole

Later, we assumed that the shouting
became unbearable. He was eight. His parents
laid out glass shards in the kitchen.
The aquarium shattered its emptiness to the ground.
Listen, when animals die,
they go in hiding, his father said.
He believed him. He hid in the closet
to find the goldfish.
This was how we found his body:
one hand pressed
against the wall as if asking
to be let in, a flashlight clutched in the other.
The bullet was meant for his mother.
And so it happened that we extracted it,
then held up his heart, gleaming and photogenic
against the light,
the hole in the middle
like the mouth of a stillborn fetus.

My Ex-Wife's on the Phone Again

She's supposed to be on a diet.
The coat that used to fit her
now fits the emergency ward.
She's lonely. Someone,
in the background, wants to know
what she wants. Should
she go for another croissant
or shove her head in the gas oven?
She has everything
under control. She repeats
her grocery list aloud
as if it could save the natural world
from herself.
Lipstick smudges
in her voice like alcohol.
She still blames the lack of fiber
in her eating habits
on her parents. The heart of a blue
whale can weigh
up to 450 kilograms.
She tells me this again and again.
She's laughing so hard
I hear milkshake shoot out
her nose and hit
that perfect spot on the wall.
I tell her she got
the wrong number.

So this is how I begin to die---

in one unconscious state, the living
are carved in simulated warfare. Holes
in the newspaper pass out
light from moving cars. Boxes fill up with breakables.
Even now, beer assumes the shape
of a faceless father. A black telephone
smuggles voices through
the party line until I am speechless.
Thud. The rifle on the end table
is a baby picture. As for happier events,
there are tv game shows.
And this glass jar, one prolapsed
uterus in formaldehyde.

Today the Porch Light

The bulb's gray tint is final.
It swings in the wind, like a dead falcon.
In your thumb, a splinter. This bench
was made to carry the burden of ten people---
not one on crutches, studying
the back of his hand and how everything
is reduced to cracks up close.
You have a leg cast with no names
to identify whose friend it is.
A mosquito blazes their hunger
up your left arm. Is it the nature of rain
to mask its fear of heights?
The barks of dogs are wet, organically distant. You throw
your crutches at the dandelions.
The natural world folds itself into shadows.
A garden dwarf lies face down,
licking little deaths from the grass.

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