A Boy Named Rooster Tries to Kiss Me
with a lip full of mint Skoal and his thumbs hooked in his belt loops, oh Jesus do you wonder why my type is my type, this dripping masculinity, this air of no care in the world, this lanky frame wound taut, guitar string twanging against the world
and tells me he has to go home to bury his uncle. Home isn’t here, home is up and up the mountains, a half-lane dirt road touching the face of God, God in a clapboard 8 pew shack of Jesus Christ, home is back-home, he’s using the terms I will feel in my mouth only years later, my whole family is buried in the cemetery in Slabtown, you can’t throw a rock and not hit my relative’s tombstone there —
but Rooster has to go home to bury his uncle. His home-place you see, up there it’s all family cemeteries and no funeral homes. They get the body and hold some kind of Christian vigil while the men take turns in the pouring March rain, that freezing rain that gets beneath your skin and in your eyes, that low hanging cloud rain, digging with shovels, the road too tight for a backhoe, the rows too tight for that kind of equipment, they bury their dead sole to sole practically up there, because the folks are getting older but the mountains are winnowing, this way and that, and they only have this plot to save. Rooster tells me that he’ll go up and help dig this grave, they’ll drink beer and whisky and dig this grave, all the men together, while the women sit among cooling casseroles and watch over the soul. Rooster tells me it’s better this way, it’s everybody’s job so it’s nobody’s job, and that another relative has made the casket, and that he didn’t really know his uncle but that’s the way we do it, that’s what we do
and I lean toward Rooster and say, That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.
my mother’s mouth is filled with teeth [canine, elk, bison, pike]
frothing forth to chatter on the kitchen floor
one by one – thunder
shakes a tin roof, windows chattering in warped frames
and I’m eight feet tall and newborn,
angelic scope, the angels were harbingers, the angels were bulletproof,
and I’m all gums and cartilage, my soft spots broader than a man’s palm
she says we thought you were a demon because you cried so much
and what of it, if I were punishment? if I were sent
to bring you to your knees? is your throat scraped from these teeth? are you
shark mother? am I minnow? am I tadpole, burrowing and burrowing and emerging
as loud as a bullfrog, that sound deep under your skin? and what should I have been sorry
for being born
just because I was an infant, and you were a mother, and everything about you
turns inside out, a body of prolapse, liters of bile, and blaming me for the trouble?
in our postage-stamp yard
tall grass casts shadows over
asking from the porch
what more I could want
outside this place
her embrace a shifting body
full tide mother // swift current mother
take me below
I am inordinately good
at stacking dirty dishes
in boggling shapes
it came up to nearly
nothing broke but the sound was
mother [not impressed]
everyone forgets seraphs
were beasts of fire
but I don’t
& she doesn’t
we sit perpendicular,
skipping wind across coffee,
out our respective doors
she says, it’s turtles all the way down
we put down quilts
as if to stem
a slow & painful leak
my teeth came in crooked
I could not eat right
& the house leaned
I’m sick of talking about
the different ways
panes of glass grind together,
pulled down to make sand
a single clutched fist
Love Poem: For Mrs. Pac-Man
My love is an empty laundromat, humid, acrid.
The machines are going but no one is here. My love is an inconvenience,
but a convenient inconvenience, the thing you need
instead of want.
My love is clanking quarters in front pocket,
wet palms and dripping orphan socks. You were here
once, somehow, even if you’ve always had
in-unit machines. My love is ubiquitous.
My love is spare socks and missing socks and whose underwear are these?
My love is your wadded wet clothes on the concrete floor.
My love asks if you have a quarter, then if you have a light,
then if you have a cigarette, then if you have a boyfriend.
My love can’t take a hint.
My love is an empty laundromat
in a small town, near the interstate,
with Mrs. Pac-Man bleeping and blooping in the corner
but quarters are for laundry, and laundry is expensive,
and I’ll be here all night.
Love Poem: For The Sounds at Night
My love is an eighteen-wheeler careening down the side of a mountain,
Jake-brake screaming at the night. I am incapable of stopping.
Do you believe in prayer, in miracles? The people in cars
blinking down this mountain in front of me
need to. My love is too heavy and too fast.
There comes a point when people realize
the combustion in their chest was not me, but the sound
of me, the way that I make you feel in your lungs but you realize
I am a chest cold – I will pass.
My love echoes through the holler, reverberating
deep through unsuspecting chests. My love, my father called it a jay-brake,
and I thought it was a jay-brake until I sat down to write
about this sound. Indescribable.
My love is a risk, my love is risky,
my love is sorry I left, my love left the mountains,
my love lives in the mountains, my love wants to go home.