The sand sparkled like white mica. The beach
stretched beneath and beyond the boardwalk. Back then,
before your mother’s hangovers caused the sun
to make her head feel pounded like the puck
of the strongman game at Playland, she
was there with you—offering bologna sandwiches
on Kaiser rolls and peaches whose sweet juice
ran down your chin.
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs. She’d stand
ankle-deep in the water, shading her eyes
to watch that you didn’t drown.
Decades later, when your mother
is in a psych ward, jabbering, tied
to her railed bed, you see her
lips: opening, closing like a fish,
her hands fisted into claws, her eyes
sealed. But you remember
the times she’d wade out to teach you
to float—her arms becoming your raft,
you squinting into her smiling face,
her blue eyes looking larger
with her dark hair covered
by her white bathing cap.
I have never slaughtered a pig.
My hands, though slathered with a sheen
Of melted flesh, are swiftly cleaned
With a simple paper towel.
The cottonwood trees watch. Whisper. A
lyrical business, theirs. Bored by the Wind
River, they turn toward the termite-nibbled
The Pacific begs me to swim away, anything
to keep us from strangling each other
on the boardwalk. The Freakshow
is where our love belongs, a two-headed
oddity feasting on dust and bone
This is how pleasure goes marauding
thinking twenty was happy
thinking faces you won’t believe
wrapped in a smell of hand
When she reeked of distraction, a dozen fools
set out to decant her childhood.
You work with doll pieces and cigar
boxes. Mirrors reflect limbs
suspended on toothpicks.
It’s easy to forget how weird Elvis was, sitting in the Atlanta airport on a Sunday morning, Viva
Las Vegas on every screen,
lined up at the bar with fellow travelers recently notified that alcohol is not for sale until 12:30 this afternoon.
Come chill with me and watch a show
Tonight, whenever, I don't know;
We'll listen to the new J. Cole,
And I will judge your nipple mole
look back, look back
you will be Rorschach
a print of a man
She’s not my aunt by blood,
so I’ve a chance to taste her.