do you remember
that cartoon, was it popeye, with louis
armstrong singing I’ll be glad when you’re
dead, you rascal you. he was
a cloud, turned into a head, following
bluto and singing. bluto
learned fear. I love those cartoons
because anything could happen, like
popeye’s arm turning into an anvil or
into a machine gun. like all the cans
and pots in a kitchen becoming
a jazz orchestra, matches dancing
and lighting themselves. it was
a cool day in early spring, we
had the unveiling at my mothers
grave, my brother and his wife
and their adopted children.
anything can happen, you
can buy yourself a family.
she was dead, as it turned
out, buried and a headstone
was set in her earth. larissa
was going to come with me, not
that I needed her to, but to give
her a chance to make up for
what she did the time of the funeral.
but she didn’t come. anything can
happen, I remember her learning
to come. that week, I got a set
of poems rejected, but they
weren’t my poems in the envelope,
it wasn’t my name on the rejection slip.
they never told me what they did
with my poems, the ones I sent
them. I think they were published
and no one ever told me. there
was another jesse weiner in boston,
jessie wiener, though, but we
always got each others phone calls.
I put her number on the wall
near my phone, ready
to give to all her friends. I
heard she did the same for me.
I’m hoping she’s the one
who got my pubs, my poems might
have been hers after all.
anything can happen. maybe
it was her mother’s unveiling
I went to, her kids
my brother adopted. I’m going
into my kitchen, she might be opening
a can of sardines in my cabinet,
from the inside, ready to sing
and dance for me.
—from Rattle #34, Winter 2010