April 9, 2010

Cathryn Cofell

LEAVES OF GRASS/SUICIDE/PSYCHIC HOTLINES

          I, now thirty-.seven years old to perfect health begin,
          Hoping to cease not till death.
                    –Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

The gift I gave came back at me
like a boomerang
like a sling shot
like the kick of a shot gun
the kick of a bullet in a 10 x 12 room
a 10 x 12 room sixteen years ago
sixteen years ago and I turn 37
                              today I turn 37
today I crack open at 37
after sixteen years
I crack open
like a bad spine
like a Dionne connection
like algebra.

Dear Jim.
Dear Jim.
. . I wrote . . .
love Cathy
and all the slanted words between
all the slanted words
slanted across the inside cover of that book like a tidal wave
slanted across that open jacket like a con man’s open jacket
          full of cheap
watches
slanted between that first moment
that first glance
that first line in a dim bar
that first dim moment in a dim bar
and that last day
                    that last day
that last late in the night minute
that last
          folded
minute.

Dear Jim I wrote
I only hope you treasure this half as much as I treasure you.
half as much as I treasure you
I said
what kind of crap is that?
what kind of greeting card flap is that
you’re not supposed to get those crap words back
you’re supposed to give them away
and give them away
you’re not supposed to get your own words back.

          I treasure you I said
and the gun went off
and the book I gave came up from the floor
Walt came up from the floor
came up from the blood
came up from the mud
tracked in on distracted shoes
came up from the outline of your body
propped against the foot of your bed

the outline of your body still
propped against the foot of a bed

and Walt came up at me
like a hood in a deep alley
like a rabid dog
like a piece of glass on a dirt road
he came up from the dirt
without a map without footsteps on parchment
without spit
just your mother’s face at the door
her hand in my face
Dear Jim
your mother’s hand in my face
Walt’s face in her hand
her curled hand holding his face
her curled hand
this kamikaze motion
came at me like Jesus from the dead
this piece of me           I wanted you to have
                    came back from the dead
          she gave it back
as if she could give it back
as if she could take back what you had done
she couldn’t bare
she couldn’t bare
she pushed you away                     and it all went away
and the face in my hands takes you back
the hand in my face takes you back.

from Rattle #16, Winter 2001