May you know your neighbors’ names. May those names cause
more pleasure than frustration. May they applaud
the life you choose to build—your triumphs and flaws—
your loyalty and trysts—your science and your gods.
I fake solemnity and self-negation, finish my meal.
Mosquito swarm about my face, sweat beads on
my brow. Emptiness was more fun to write about
before navigating the corridors of cancer wards, orderlies
Upon the scrotum's fell evacuation
the musculature normally declines--
or so the common wisdom of our time
lets one (that would be me) anticipate.
But here I feel a pair of muscles thrive
on my castrated travel-partner's sides:
what kind of city is this where one line goes one way and another line elsewhere and another line with three possible points, another for foul shots, another for out of bounds? where telephones have lost some of their lines? where bodies come in types instead of fonts?
The artist says “I haven't drawn a stitch since;
I shake my fists at words and recall the rising din.”
The butcher says “I’ll grind it fine for you
if you stand over there and vote along this party line.”
Just look at your face so wasted playing a man so real, as real as charred skin in your hair can get. How far will you trudge down this never-ending path of enlightened servitude? Wade into the river to soothe your feet as many times as you’d like, but the ringworms keep burrowing.
How do you know when it’s done? I admit the children
were wrecked but the sad man gave me reasons to remain—
the sex was sex, his blows weren’t all that harsh and he never
shot at me but once. It’s a gift, I guess, to know how to leave,