I’m a sucker for small towns
where something is amiss.
Police smiling too much
at the children. Parents
who aren’t inattentive or self-obsessed
do a bit of volunteering,
and everybody waves at the train
clacking through the brick heart of town
at just the right speed and volume,
carrying nobody knows what
into the distant hills forever in a soft
cleansing rain. Such towns,
they get me every time.
If a guy isn’t careful,
he could spend his whole
perfectly pleasant life
strolling along under the maples,
hands in pockets, trying to figure out
just what the fuck is going on.
The disembodied eye has escaped
its bubbling vat of amniotic goo
and is crawling over the cracked slab
of the garage where the secret experiments are kept.
This is my problem for sure and soon
it will be everyone’s problem
and that will be embarrassing for me.
I will feel bad when the neighbor’s dog is eaten
and the eyeball grows larger and meaner.
The likelihood of worse outcomes
grows greater with each passing moment.
I’m trying to come up with a plan
but the garage is filling with a noxious green mist
that makes it hard to breathe or even think straight.
I’m about to take action, any action, when suddenly
my father appears in his paternal regalia
and I don’t have a thought in my head.
Somewhere Beethoven’s 5th begins to play,
a cornerstone of western classical music,
whose opening is sometimes characterized
as fate knocking at the door.
It’s full of booby traps like the inside of a pharaoh’s tomb
waiting to be plundered by your eyes.
Parts of it have yet be deciphered
by scholars and half-crazed amateur sleuths.
It’s full of piss and vinegar but politely.
Its organization…leaves something to be desired.
It’s dropped its knife, have you seen it?
Once I stabbed myself in the palm
because I was distracted by a squirrel I saw on a fence
outside the window plus the knife was dull
and I was holding the bagel wrong
and I bled all over the wooden cutting board
and while I was bandaging my hand
all the blood seeped into the wood, and the patterns
the blood formed in the wood grain looked
almost like language, and my email is like this.
It’s like the desire to be quiet in a quiet bar
in the late afternoon with nothing else to do.
It’s like a private eye, feet up on his desk at the beginning
and then again at the end of the movie,
having solved some crimes, having saved nobody,
cigarette smoke rising through the slatted shadows
of the Venetian blinds of his shabby office.
Nothing is ever more than half illuminated, at best.
It’s half in love with death…but only half.
Open it like you’re an apprehensive villager
opening the casket of a notorious and freshly exhumed local
thought by some to be a vampire
and it’s your job to make sure they’re really dead.
Open it like a locket just sifted from warm volcanic ash.
It sounds like the songs of sad whales
but it’s never even seen the sea.
It doesn’t smell like anything. Like all of us
it arrives out of darkness, full of screaming.