Death Comes In The Form Of A Pontiac Trans Am
When I have fears that I may cease to be,
I think of death that revs and growls, backfires,
stops for none, is cherry red and sleek,
eats Honda Civics, coughs, and spits out wires.
It doesn't approach, but, boom, it appears,
growling where its muffler ought to be.
It has no sense of sin—but it has gears.
It shifts them when it must, but grudgingly.
It will not purr—it spits its awful stutter,
then roars these words: I want, I will, I am.
It flattens snakes, knocks dogs into the gutter.
It speaks American. It speaks American.
-previously published at Flint Hill Review
The doctors can’t say, so no one knows
when the brain goes
dead. Toe twitch, grip
in the hand when the pin
slides in. Did an eyelid flutter? Breeze
where the earhole fails and a sea
begins. Surf in the skull. True,
something ate the cortex away. Oh, true —
and the breathpump groaned
so the chest just rose.
When the mind is a muddle of foam
each kind word floats away. Some-
one take the tongue or the body will speak.
Pull the plug so the brain can sink.
Zero where it counts and free —
it should be like a shark asleep in the sea.
-previously published in Jacket
The Mean Boys
The mean boys beneath the Exxon light off Route 64
had quick eyes
and pockets full of dollar bills, like secrets, they’d stolen.
Their pickups on idle, radios going, hands pale in the glare
like moths—at their lips,
at their snowy hair, touching the pickups’ fenders. Mean and thin,
laughter too loud for the highway on a Sunday night, for the snow
like flecks of sad gray paint
peeling down over Glenmont, Ohio, and the rest of town at their televisions.
The moon was a bright wreckage that fell over the rock quarry
where the mean boys’ fathers
worked all day. Fell over the roofs of trailers, over the frozen
river, where no one saw it come down. The mean boys didn’t care.
Their feet were strewn
with broken glass, arms bruised at the shoulders, cigarettes
curled into their sleeves. This was long ago. I pass here some nights
but the lot is always empty.
No quick jab to the arm, or hoot and flung beer bottle. Where are
the mean boys now? The snow has painted the town away,
and I miss the flash
when they opened their mouths to laugh. Their perfect white teeth.
-previously published at Shampoo
In A Beautiful Country
A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.
Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.
Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.
The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds
into your drink. It doesn’t matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,
then down you’ll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,
the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.
A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don’t worry
about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You’re thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.
-previously published at Poetry