Detoxing in Five Parts
These are the vials, the liquids pale
and anemic in the syringe,
but mighty in the veins.
And these are the veins, the blue, the black, the purple.
The fragile. The ancient.
Maps made by explorers of a new continent: her body.
Here come the givers of sleep in their pale blue pajamas,
the keepers of the vials,
poets reciting Atavan, Dilaudid, Cymbalta.
They have their orders.
They have their charts.
They have their clocks ticking. Ticking.
If there’s a window, if there’s something more somewhere to be seen,
it’s not here
where all is centered inward on the mechanical bed.
For this is the woman who merits their favors, her matted hair,
the tubes and bottles.
These are the bruises from the hands that held her down.
There are poisons draining, they say, draining for days from the brain,
from eyes filled with snowflakes and snakes, seeing a stranger
in the corner,
a presence, a man.
He has no meaning; he’s simply here. As you are here
although you claim a greater corporeality.
This is what she sees: a web of evil that wants her body.
That wants her money.
It sounds like people talking in the halls saying
St. Louis, St. Louis, St. Louis.
Yes, she says, they want her money and they want the hairs from her head.
They will take her to St. Louis.
She says they want her dead.
This is my vista: a woman in a hospital gown bloodied
by fierce exertion.
[See how it hangs off her shoulder, how it crawls up her thighs]
This is the death of privacy and elegance. Of humor and singing.
She says Get me out of here or I’ll be dead.
Says You’ll regret this the rest of your life.
She hears St. Louis Kansas City Minneapolis.
And now I’m sorry that I told you this.
It’s not a gift.
It’s a poison I’m spitting out like a cowboy in a John Wayne movie
who doesn’t know
the venom’s already moving,
moving for years through the veins,
through the brain.
She thinks we’re part of it,
part of that crew that wants her body and her money.
Charity These Days
After I’ve let the music muscle into each nettled
nerve after I’ve seen the development of
developments newly minted and moated,
after I’ve viewed the documentary which is become
Katrina and called in my pledge
New Orleans air is on me like infatuation
and against my will I keep tuning my TV
south where the V’d belly hair
of the construction crew foreman is frontally
trancing me and drunk on the expanse
of my own goodwill and the charming
footage of the breakfast nook
in the newly refurbished
B & B where former blues greats swallow
the shirred eggs
of volunteers from Pismo Beach
and the tender eye of the camera caresses
each bruised face rendering them poignant,
then droll, I moonwalk by proxy
across Jackson Square,
lens-close to locals who say they are grateful,
yes for whatever I have done.
Celan Sighting in Ohio
Along the wire an alphabet of crows taps out
He’s coming, they say as
the throat-strong god descends.
These days he’s terror-spent — his bent-grain
halo skewed and shredded.
These days he’s poignant as a stillborn,
back belled beneath ash and limbs,
beneath poems like cigarettes
stubbed out in cemeteries.
Oarless man stirring frozen waters.
Fearing still the ant hill.
The death hill.
Celan Sits on a Park Bench
What touches him then
is a long blue finger,
and the crows opining,
and the pull of the museum’s narcotic paintings.
He still believes that emptiness can
assume a shape, but here
in Ohio, under our vague and vacuous sun
nothing stirs in his pool of silence.
There is only language descending
and rising at once
and the red ants circling his ankles
as if humor is a keen-edged idea.