Aunt C and the Ants
The windows open
cool, crisp February
tinkles in like clinking,
from the “borrowed”
hotel cocktail glasses,
souvenirs from a weeknight getaway
less than a mile down the street,
where you could sleep on clean sheets
that you didn’t have to scrape
the vomit off of first.
The haze of pot hangs languidly,
cockeyed like a bad hat,
and on the television one of the
Hellraiser movies is muted,
and there’s laughter,
sloppy but happy.
I sneak down the stairs,
stepping over fallen ninja turtles,
all the ones I had
plus villains I hadn’t even heard of.
You always had ‘em all
but the ice was always tinkling,
the plastic-handled jugs
in the basement
stacking up against the fake,
white christmas tree,
twenty years old
Sure, you had ‘em all but
the cup was always sweating,
drops in fading carpet.
The cup always getting nearer to empty.
I remember waiting,
not the slightest clue
as to what for,
along the backside of the couch,
cat-slunk with mischievous
but sleepy eyes,
and waking there
long after the movie had ended,
long after the visitor had come and fled,
and being so thirsty,
more thirsty than I had been in my life.
I grabbed the can and
took a swig and felt them,
crawling and pinching
on the roof of my mouth.
A whole mess of them.
Squirming and biting,
sticky and crunchy.
They came spewing out,
splashing the walls and furniture,
with no conscious effort on my behalf,
just a natural reaction to an unnatural sensation.
Briefly, swaying with sickness
and disgust, I looked for you,
you, no longer on the other side
of the couch, you, no longer coherent,
me, not understanding what that meant just then
but assuming you had probably stumbled back to your
corner bedroom, sometime earlier, and not seen me.
I knew you would have picked me up,
had you been able,
or, at the least, woken me with comforting hands,
fuzzy voice telling me to “go on to bed, sweetie.”
I threw up again and everything spun.
I woke to bright sunshine
stealing in through cracked blinds.
There is a Men’s Room at the Trunk of Truth
You go about your everyday shit.
There’s the job.
The things that need doing.
that you do without second thought.
They stack up like the advertisements
in the yard,
in the mailbox,
on the welcome mat.
Let ‘em rot.
Then there’re those little moments
that loom so large,
watching a deer struggle on the side of the road
after being clipped by a semi moving eighty miles an hour
down the interstate.
You watch its fragile, crushed chest heave
knowing you can’t do a thing.
You are powerless.
You are a spectator.
It’s like not realizing you’re walking
into the women’s restroom
until it’s too late.
June 12th, 2016 or Volunteers aren’t worth arguing with
“Straight, white Christian,”
I said, five beers in,
“I guarantee it.”
We were in Florida,
sitting on the hottest damn beach
I can ever remember drinking on.
And it was a bad couple of days for Florida too.
Some pop singer got shot then the next day
the worst mass shooting in American history
splattered all over the dance floor
of a gay club in Orlando.
“Moslem,” she cried.
We didn’t know her.
The flag they were waving
from their shady tent
was orange and read: Go Vols!
We all looked over at her,
fried, dyed blonde hair all done up,
wrinkles & sun spots showing through
the pounds of makeup on her cheeks.
She was surrounded by sunburnt,
sweaty, bloated men, all hands clasped around beers,
their stares were long,
longer than the horizon, blue misted and stretching,
and one by one they nodded,
sneers painted across their faces,
eyes shielded by orange sunglasses.
No one said a thing.
She must’ve taken it as a sign from God
and turned up the Kid Rock
in a wave of static
from some ancient, passed down radio.
Shorn from shore,
a horn sounds off the pike,
twinkling from a handheld (radio),
rippling waves lap rotted roots
clung in unnetted, black dirt bank
and, there, the clank of metal oars on metal planks,
a soft sigh of respite
–a restoration of recreation–
and the plisk of a tab popped.
The reel peels off into the night;
the quiet unhooked like a brisk zipper,
then the intake of breath, the end of a rest,
and the bait is forever kept.
I got high, went fishing in my mind
and still came up empty-handed,
stranded, oarless in the middle
of my mind’s own Lake Erie.
Maybe I should tell her to leave.
Find somebody with sensible problems:
money, a car that won’t run, heartburn,
I mean, I got those too but,
at least, she wouldn’t have to worry
about a scattered brain with legacy issues,
a bent for self-destruction,
an intolerable need to make and build and tear down.
I don’t see what she sees. Of course,
this is an impossibility but what keeps her here?
What redeeming value does a wretch like me hold?
God knows it ain’t no sensible problems.