Once, it seemed easy
to keep moving
to move through things
to grow fins, or grow wings
And in the night, turning stiffly
on cloud or wave
from sleep to see
that there are some
you still can love
you can love unconditionally
Then your were dawning (not drowning),
in the mouth of the maelstrom
Then you were borne up
into this codified longing,
You read, “der Erde, wer kennt die Verluste…?”
through this hole we’ll leave,
You rode a season cycle
this dumb mouth
in the ground
You rode around the stars
the trees, the turning sphere
the laurel wreaths crowning inconstancy
the invention of mourning
this cold land out of season
These old words,
meant to keep us swimming.
These losses, enumerated and unceasing.
There is a man in south Texas,
overweight and obsessed with satanic imagery.
There are probably several men in Texas
who match this description.
This one I’m thinking of sees Jesus
in his cornflakes
and then when he pours the milk
– you can see where this is going –
out it pours blood-red,
and then Beelzebub is there,
And though it is only the merciless sun
of Abilene Texas warming to its work in the morning,
this man, Roky,
imagines he feels the flames of hell,
higher, ever hellishly higher,
and coming close.
What happens next is strange.
He eats the bloody cornflakes,
steps through the screen door
to where his guitar lies
where he left it late last night,
beside a crumpled pack of
Chesterfields, beside a 24-oz can
of Iron Horse malt liquor.
And then a song pours out of him
and into that same sun
which by the time I’m writing this
has suffused the porch
and the windows with white light
and Roky has put on his ridiculous
sunglasses, with the name of a resort town
and a pink flamingo along the frame,
but they make no difference,
the sun keeps pouring on down,
and the song pouring out.
And when he has finished
playing his guitar and singing
his beautiful song about Satan,
Roky looks up to the sound
of church bells ringing. Tinny,
ugly canned church bell sound
from the chapel of the retirement home
across the street, behind catalpa trees.
Roky puts down his guitar
and reaches for the shotgun.
Captain Marvel’s costume is blue & red & yellow
like the national flag of Colombia.
Captain Marvel flying alongside
a defoliating airplane in the altiplano
has never been high even once.
Billy Batson, because he is drawn
to look very much like a cartoon,
feels the pain of those deemed “different,”
does nothing, ultimately, but cry “Shazam!”
and run away from everything human that ever got to him.
Superman’s costume is blue and red
and with his white skin, he completes
the tricoleur of liberté, égalité, & fraternité.
Every day he grapples with a desire
to murder all the humans, all equally inferior,
so that he might be alone, and think, and sleep.
Bobo has entertained so many children that he has nothing left. He sits on the pier, one hand clutching a brown bottle, the other testily plucking at his frilly paper collar, but he is too tired to take it off. The other entertainers have all gone home. It is twilight. Behind him the tent still lurks, in gloom, half collapsed like a pumpkin thrown into someone’s yard. The moon is over the water casting a misty reflection. It looks as if it wants to say something – not the moon but its delicate, violated reflection in the little waves. If it could say anything, it would be the saddest, hollowest sound anyone has ever heard. Bobo has a penchant for hyperbole. He thinks it is an important tendency, in a clown.