Inside you I think there must be a dented little trashcan overflowing with flowers, spitting up wilted but still lovely peach & yellow roses. & inside you I think there must be a grand old dresser, the drawers packed with dark, silky dirt. Sometimes you add water and you’ve got mud. Sometimes you steal something you want and write what it should’ve cost in a little pink ledger. Inside you I don’t think anything is where it should be, but who am I to say where things should be inside you? First item inside your little pink ledger: little pink ledger – $10.99.
Yes, it’s true, sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out, but then I see what looks like someone’s lopped off ear baking on the sun-struck ground. Or I have one of those shit days when I lay in bed with your laptop & watch fifty-something YouTube videos of atomic bombs tearing open like Monarch wings on nothing islands, in remote deserts. Column of skinned light. Heat knifing out in every direction. If there’s a fabricated barn, it flies apart. If there are trees, they bend in synchronicity to kiss the earth. What is the weight of the world with us, I wonder, & without? The goddamned perfect harmony from start to finish! The mushroom cloud, its underside: a lava-orange canopy, like the hot lush inner-parts of a body, turning slowly—completely—inside out. The shockwave swabs the earth moonishly clean.
You come home, hike up your skirt & sit half out the window while smoking a cigarette. You’re always eating the strangest things. Yesterday: Captain Crunch with a heavy spoonful of guacamole. I can’t imagine how skewed things are inside you: flowers in the trash; mud in the drawers. You assure me that nobody lived on those islands; the barn was built to be exploded; the trees, well, millions die in forest fires anyhow. You remind me that it wasn’t an ear we saw on the sidewalk that day, but a dead baby bird, & in your head that’s better, or easier somehow.
You’re eating Saltines slathered in stolen orange marmalade, still halfway out the window sucking on a cigarette, one bare foot on the warm iron of the fire escape. You want to shift the subject away from nuclear war. I wonder how often in the last 70 years has there been a man who wanted to talk about the bomb & a woman who wanted to change the subject? You want to discuss the muttering old lady who sits at the bus stop but never gets on the bus. I know who you mean, I’ve seen her too, but I don’t say so. She reminds you of someone, but you don’t say so.
We’re always telling each other not to worry, that maybe the world outside of us is just as fucked up as the one inside of us. You drop your cigarette onto the street below, the street that takes all of your cigarette-ends into an unseen current. Where do they flow to? I’m afraid it’s much less random than I’d like to think. You feed me a cracker with jam & touch my cheek while I eat it. Mmm, I say, can I have another one? Orange Marmalade – $7.49.
—from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems
Timothy Schirmer: “I feel elegant when I’m writing a poem, more handsome than I am, closer to this life. Who doesn’t want all of those things?” (website)