Hour 19: Denatured

Denatured

Jimmy refused to look at the camera.

Mamaw always said Like Jesus, the camera knows your sin.

He didn’t deny the cold cook or the cold pills,

or the denatured alcohol behind the seat.

Sometimes he felt denatured himself–

nothing natural about the one pot, the mobile lab.

Jail, though, as natural as breath.

Hour 18: Table for Two

Table for Two

When words bogged down like wet leaves on a fire,

my heart atrophied, curled against itself,

then I knew I couldn’t write you love poems.

The metaphors had run dry, and I never learned to write happy.

 

Did we keep any worthy souvenirs, or were the years

merely tourist trash, gas station swag?

It was never easy to buy you gifts–only dinner–.

as if I only knew you by the items on the menu.

 

Hour 17: Bourbon at the Stars

You slipped off your wedding ring, cringed

at the faint drag of gold over dermis.

 

The ticking in a kitchen without clocks

gave way to the monitoring of your minutes.

 

Should we have simply let you go

on the living room floor, among our kind shadows?

 

My mother clutched your ticking chest, forced herself toward

the stratospheric blue of your eye, summoning talismans, miracles

 

against the flattening of her globe. She left the last of you to me, a conclusion

in small, empty couplets like shots of bourbon at the stars.

 

 

 

 

Hour 16: Ode to Drunk Emailing One’s Therapist at 3am

Ode to Drunk Emailing One’s Therapist at 3am

When her therapist of many years,

asked her to examine sadness in a poem,

she glanced at her feet, knew

if she slipped toward that constricted space—

the action verbs she couldn’t form in session

would force doors from their hinges,

send the bats of memory smashing at her eyes.

Crows would caw her precise movements, her paralysis,

while flies would execute extended landings,

maggots not far behind.

Hour 15: Bright July Afternoon

Bright July Afternoon

After laying it all down

in the shadowy compassion of my

new therapist’s office,

I watched a man casually steer his F 150 tires to

the quick twists of 93,

hang his arm down the red side of door,

and crush a grey kitten into the handle

the way you’d stub the life out of a cigarette.

Hour 14: Untitled Prompt Response

I ventured down unphased by signs of snake,

or mysteries of frogs in the sky.

Breeze, lemonade cool,

 

a euphemistic evening jar sloshing with vodka

amid the trash and tangle of rotting skins.

Cigarette as a talisman against seething brush.

 

The steam, smoke grenade, camouflage

blocking pattern blurs blood, beer, breast,

the possibilities of infallible touch.

 

Chain smoking against the fuel line of hell,

scanning strange children’s faces for

a supportive elbow, a familiar visage.

 

Blind fingers after a Brailled welt.

Faithful raincoat, ravaged by bleach and teeth.

The tomato with bottom end rot.

 

Passing indignities on paper,

the peculated family jewels,

an empty littering the ditch.

Hour 13: Pantoum Stuff

The hoop snare proof of rough going ahead.

Negligence with pansies that sets them frowning.

Slim riddle of hill, mule hauling her load.

The fields have turned brown.

 

Negligence with pansies that sets them frowning.

Here, mad ponies snap tomato stems from clay.

The fields have turned brown.

Fringes of nightshade tatter the mounds.

 

Here, mad ponies snap tomato stems from clay.

Slim riddle of hill, mule hauling her load.

Fringes of nightshade tatter the mounds.

The hoop snare proof of rough going ahead.

Hour 12: Untitled

Harboring danger between breaths,

my ellipses have come

to outweigh my words.

 

Banging, plundering about,

drafting half-odes to unexpected things,

musings on beef gelatin binding candy cigarettes.

 

Contents to be avoided like plagues,

tattooed hitchhikers and loose women.

Direct curettage. Backspace. Delete.

 

Self-doubt is a creeper in plaid pants,

grasping himself in strange corners, trolling

the bakery where you buy that dawn coffee.

 

Hour Eleven: No Longer Beautiful (A not quite villanelle)

We stopped photographing ourselves when we were no longer beautiful.

Our letters became aging skin crumbling at forgotten touch.

The gaze shifted to glare, like a bad dog turned vengeful.

 

When the shock of lines mapped the territory of our eyes, the youthful

face formed the scowl of bitter old grudge.

(Perhaps we photographed lies.) The disputable

 

torn collage of bodies marked as unsuitable,

twisted their stale form in the sheets. Much

of our contact, like wine turned to vinegar,

 

or negligence with pansies that leaves them unusable

for gardens, pleasure, romantic gestures and such.

We stopped picking flowers when they/we were no longer beautiful.

 

Perfect smiles, stilted poses, closer to pitiful.

Things we built were puzzles come undone.

(Perhaps we captured lies.) Photos disputable.

 

It is easy to disregard what is no longer beautiful

when accuracy and accumulation are simply too much.

We stopped photographing ourselves when we were no longer beautiful.

The gaze shifted to glare, like a sad dog turned vengeful.

 

Hour Ten: Radium Girls

Radium Girls

When the spine caves in under the heft of the skull,

when bones fall apart, fragile as paper,

we’re here, tongues at brushes,

generating bright digits not unlike those

that will mark our stones six

feet above our glowing blones.