Bite More / Taste Less -------> (Ramblings)

Ramblings of a alleged realist, supposed poet, and apparently ambitious something-or-other.

Watching My Brother

 

There are as many worlds as

there are people

and I’m watching my little brother’s

world being stuffed inside a football helmet

tight and safe

and now it is being carried off onto a

football field by his body.

.

The rain is rubbing its knuckles on the

tops of heads and on sleeves

and umbrellas.

Our ancestors sit in the stadium lights

a quiet cloud of witnesses.

.

On Friday nights angels stoop down

over football fields to wash their hands

in the shouts and shame of people

and sing their lessons

and I am doing my part

not for them but for my brother.

.

He is kicking a field goal and I get more

nervous for him than I ever do for myself.

.

And then I hate Fridays because he misses

and I would rather be the one missing

so I think about how many brothers have

missed field goals and

how many brothers there are

compared to angels

and how many worlds that is.

Sweat


There’s a man sitting snug outside

of Morning Times, smoking a

cigarette.  The smoke is rising over him

like the ghost of a child

 and he doesn’t taste the

the tinge of salt that lines

his cigarette.

It was left behind by

a twelve year old Guatemalan kid who

picked and dried it in a Carolina field. 

The hot smirk of the sun

was nipping at his neck

as he plucked the fresh leaves.

His hands were covered

in sweat and he wept over the tobacco

because he hasn’t seen his sister since

the big black truck.

 No, he takes another puff

blows out another ghost

he can’t taste the salt.

The Vigil


The dead aren’t that exactly

 they’d say the same of us

if we would listen but they know we

won’t so, they poke holes in the sky.

They poke holes in the sky and

set big burning candles there on

the shoulder of the warrior

and the tip of bow and

the horn of the bull

and on the scales.

.

It’s a vigil, really,

but they don’t stay long

they have all the time

in our life to pity us

but, they’d rather play Frisbee with galaxies

or go sky diving in black holes or

supernova surfing.

.

After all, they know we’ll

be there soon enough and

they’ll say I told you so and

we’ll say you never told us and

they’ll say we poked holes in the sky.

Papaw


When someone dies all of a sudden

their life flashes before their eyes all at once,

but when the doctor tells you

you have 7 months to live,

you can take your time

and watch your life like a movie.

.

I’ve never seen my life flash before my eyes

but yours did once

when dad showed me your home movies,

your memories, that had snuck out of your head

and into the boxes in the attic.

.

As I watched your life

I imagined you watching your life

I imagined you sitting up in your bed at night

and turning on the television to watch the

life that was leaving you.

.

Here’s the part where you’ve just been born

right after the opening credits

Your parents are the executive producers

and God is the director.

.

Hear your sepia-toned cries

see the vinyl of your skin

feel the wooden stare of your father.

.

Here’s the part where all twelve of your

ol’ country siblings are wrestling over

corn cobs at the long plaid dinner table.

You’re brown as a shovel from working

those fields.

.

Here’s the part where you and mamaw

are getting married in that old

brick church in Yadkinville. 

Your smile is a downpour of stubborn love

and her smile is a stained-glass umbrella.

.

Here’s the part where your first son is being born

red and glowing, like coals.

You’ve finally become an executive producer

and your pride weighs too much for your eyes

and it presses itself into tears

that are now swinging from your brow

like pendulums

like plastic mobiles

that you’ll hang over his crib.

.

Here’s the part where you’re building that church

with your bare hands

and here’s the part where my father is dancing

on your lap.

.

Now I’m sitting on your lap

my hands on the tractor steering wheel

your hands on mine.

The wind is running its fingers

through the tall grass

like you used to do with your hair.

Seth is standing at the top of the yard

waving his hand, screaming “Me next! Me next!”

And the grass is waving its hands and

screaming “Me next!  Me next!”

Here’s the part where you somehow fit both of us

on your lap

and we cut the hell out of that grass

even with all those hands on that wheel.

.

Now here’s the part where your hands

won’t work anymore

when your fingers won’t turn the keys

or grip the shovel

or run through your hair.

And the doctor is telling you

that you get to watch your life come at you

slowly, then through you, then past you.

.

Here’s the part where your sons love you

but they have to put in the nursing home,

because there’s just nothing else they can do.

.

Now

here’s the part where you fall asleep

in front of the television

the scenes still skipping by

the colors and people

bouncing off your glasses.

Snorting Poetry


 

In the beginning

my friends said that poetry

goes well with a salad

or dry rubbed on a steak

or by even itself with a nice, dark beer.

“It just, mellows you out, ya know?” 

 

Why is it then

that I am sitting in the gapping mouth

of my empty apartment living room

on the dry tongue of my couch

staring stir-crazy into a series of

little white rows of diced letters and metaphors.

 

What am I doing?

I’m snorting poetry.

Line after line

I’ve cut out the middle man of the stomach

and I’m taking it straight to the head.

I need an angry fix of Ginsberg.

I need to cut up Dickinson and T.S. Eliot

into little rows and drag them

through my nasal cavity.


I just did a line of Edgar Allen Poe

and black ravens flew into the open windows of

my eyes and filled my head

casting shadows on my trembling hands and knees.


But that was after I did a line of Dickinson

and because I could not stop for death

I snorted it through a dollar bill

and thought about it for a while

and decided not to go gentle

into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the

light bulb in the ceiling fan.

It keeps flickering and I can’t see

the next line of Whitman.

 

There’s no T.V.

I had to sell my T.V. to get a hold of the Whitman and the Poe.

I had to sell my roommate’s T.V. to get a hold of the T.S. Eliot and the Ginsberg.

 

You see, I’ve got this crazy poetry lady that I meet

at the corner of Bragg and Saunders

her name’s Dorianne

you may have heard of her,

or seen her in the long fingers of your daydreams

but she’s sold me this new stuff that’s supposed

to be the next big thing -

Lux, the Dickman brothers, Lee-Young Li.

 

 

I am sorry

I don’t think there’s any hope

of detox or rehab for me.

All I see

all I taste

all I feel

is poetry.

So all that’s left to do

is snort more poetry

misquote the raven

“Evermore.”

 

Preachers Say the Darndest Things

 

My dog dies when I was 13.

The vet said she drank too much antifreeze

and that she was never coming out of the coma.

 

When I was young I used to think that her nose

had healing powers.

If I had a headache I would press her nose

against my forehead, and feel better.

And now her nose was dry and still.

 

As we walked out of the animal hospital that night

the moon was the color of cold hands

sweating a ring around the night

and the stars were scattered like roadkill

on the black pavement of the sky

 

raccoon teeth and

squirrel bones.

 

The road home was made of glass

and I looked for you in windows

and in trees

because I was afraid of hell

and nonexistence

but mostly I just missed you.

 

 

A week later

my brother and I attended

a youth conference and the

preacher asked us to raise our

hands if we had lost a pet recently.

Then he told us that all of our

dead pets are exactly that,

that no dogs go to heaven because

they don’t have souls.

 

And as the adults heaved their

sacred laughs

and as the preacher made

more jokes than sense

my brother held his crumbling face

in his hands

and wept as quietly as he could.

I put my arm around him,

and in my young heart

vowed to kill that preacher.

 

I leaned over gently

and whispered to my brother

that if Jesus is coming back on a white horse

then there must be stables in heaven

full of them.

And that means there has to be

dogs running loose in the golden streets

pissing on the sapphire hydrants

digging up alabaster bones

and tugging at the crystal robes

of angels. 

 

6:00 A.M.

I still cannot sleep

as I sit between floors

of black fire

quiet, still.

My clock is marching across the wall

like the moon

its tick tock teeth

chewing on eternity

smacking its infinite lips.

I am hungry now

I cut a slice out of the moon

and put it on a plate

place it on my bed.

My legs are mired in sheets

rolling like waves across my stomach

my slice of the moon floating

alone and glowing

stranded out at sea.

I herald the orange blinds

the color of eyelids

the neural flood of morning.

It pries it’s skinny arms through the window

patiently strokes my head.

I am still carrying Colossus

In my own arms across

my eyelids, back and

forth,

back and forth

no place to set him down.

I forget that I have not slept

and rise to eat my breakfast

the last slice

of the moon.

Party Talk



It’s Friday night

we’re at a party, and

you’re telling me about your test on Tuesday.

And my thoughts are running naked

through the house

like children after a bath

running from the towel.

 

Our friends are all chatting and dancing

and you’re telling me about your test on Tuesday.

And I’m getting married in the fireplace

to a girl that looks kind of like Scarlett Johanssen

and a lot like Kate Beckinsale.

The flames are a little Cathedral,

the embers are floating like bells and rice.

 

What was that? Ah yes, you’re test on Tuesday.

 

Our friends are still dancing,

and Scarlett JoBeckinsale and I are riding

 in a coffee cup across the hardwood floor,

“Just married” scribbled across the top,

thimbles dragging behind us.

And now we’re riding up the backs of our friends

and now we’re flying in Michael’s hat to our honeymoon

on the ceiling fan.

 

Am I listening?  Of course!

You have a test on Tuesday.

 

Our hotel room on the ceiling fan

is overlooking the dancing Riviera

the tops of heads bouncing like mountains

valleys of shoulders and smiles.

And we’re in the Penthouse suite with the windows open

doing what married people do.

 

Now we’re snowboarding down the curtains

through the stems of lacy flowers.

And now we’re sunbathing

on the plastic sunflower on the kitchen table.

 

Well, while you’ve been standing there

telling me about you test on Tuesday,

my wife and I decided to build our dream home

on top of your head –

you should be tasting the foundation

and the plumbing

anytime now.

And we’re celebrating by doing what married people do.

 

I didn’t catch that last part;

your test, it’s when?

Ah yes, on Tuesday.

 

 

Now my wife is giving birth to our son

in the hospital on your left shoulder.

We named him Gibraltar.

He is soft and firm

like a good loaf of bread

and his room is looking out at the party

over your right ear.

He is beautiful – I think I’ll make another

while you’re telling me every single little detail

about your test on Tuesday.

 

Well now, I have died

in a tragic base jumping accident

off of the bookshelf in the corner by the window.

And your teeth are lined

nice and sad

like polished gravestones

and one of them is mine –

or maybe all of them.

I have lived many lives

and died many deaths

since you’ve been standing there

at this party

telling me

about your test

on Tuesday.

Apocalypse in Aminor (Or The Self-Fulfilling End of Everything)



Right after I hit puberty

I became a prophet.

Most of my friends were just counting the hairs on their chins

or getting insecure about their pecs

But I was dreaming dreams of the end of the world.

At night, I was laying my head down on my pillow

my own little Patmos

and seeing into the future…

 

One night I was at Neal Middle School

and our class walked single file out to the buses

to a parking lot on fire.

Everything was burning politely,

the school, the neighborhood, the birds,

but not the buses.

We sat in our seats

leaned our little heads against the windows

and watched the world burn

waiting for our bus stop.

And Mrs. Parrish, our bus driver, had a mustache,

And guess what?  It was on fire…

Another time the sun was walking across the city roofs

like granddaddy long legs

eating pigeons off of satellite dishes

and smoking trees like cigarettes.

The people stared in awe and took pictures

muttering prayers to themselves

and the pigeons and trees were muttering their own.

 

Some nights I would wake up and not remember

a thing, but I would feel epic

and vulnerable.

 

Another time I was the moon and I was angry.

I shook my fist at the earth

And I still don’t know why.

 

And another night I was sitting in the back seat

and my father was shouting “Jesus is coming Jesus is coming!”

And the sky was a mirror stretched out over the earth

 and it was opening its mouth, yawning.

 

In the last vision I remember

I sat and watched people gather in Times Square

on New Years.

my little head leaning against a dull window,

they were watching a Mayan king on a grand stage

remove the heart of Tim LaHaye.

The king pulled his hand from the chest

and raised a glowing disco ball in the air

and lowered it slowly

as the people counted down to zero.

And out of the mouth of the sky

a flash of light and graffiti,

Then

 

there was nothing.

 

In my dream, the voice of Morgan Freeman boomed

out of the blankness:

“And the end came because they believed it would.”

 

I would wake up from these dreams and know that I knew something

that no one else did.

Jurassic Parking Lot

 

Durham is famous for its dinosaurs.

I used to think they were real,

and I was going to ride one but

when we got out of the car I saw that

they weren’t moving, and I just

thought they were sad, or old,

but now I know they’re just statues.

 

Someone stole the head of the Brontosaurus

when I was in 7th grade, but

they gave it back.

 

That’s the one I would have ridden –

the Brontosaurus.  We were going to

march out of the museum parking lot

and take a triumphant walk through

the bare-knuckled woods near 9th street, and 

we were going to tear down some trees

and sit on a few cars, and I was going to

feel safe because

I’m riding a freaking dinosaur.

 

 

 

And we were going to wander down Angier Avenue

which stumbles through

twisted trees like the gang signs

in the fingers of its children,

and we were going to stop in front of that sketchy

prostitute motel off of the 85 exit,

and I was going to shout

“You’re all princesses!  Each and every

one of you! ” and the pimps were

going to go for their guns,

but decide to run when they saw that

I’m riding a freaking dinosaur.

 

We were going to go home the back

way down Holloway, past Grove Park

where the houses look like

sad, old people in their rocking chairs

and they were going to yell at us to slow down.

But we were going to race past Ashley’s house anyway

and the trees in her front yard

were going to wave their hands with the rain

and she was going to join them

and be so, so impressed

at how well

I’m riding a freaking dinosaur.

 

 

We were going to go home

to my house in Greenwood

and he was going to place

his head through my bedroom window  

and we were going to pull an all-nighter.

But our sleepover was going to be interrupted

by four gunshots off in the distance

and he was going to shudder

in fear,

and I was going to console him

and get to be the strong one.

 

He was going to be there with me

in the morning,

in the kitchen

when my parent’s unwashed words would

finally spill out of their mouths

like sad, old silverware,

when they would tell my brother and I

they were getting divorced,

and we were going to

run off, the three of us. 

And he was going to run

as fast as he could

and we were going to hold on

as tight as we could

and I was going to feel safe

as long as I was riding

that dinosaur.

 

And on the days when I forget

I go back to the museum

and he reminds me

who the strong one is.