Close Your Eyes
My how the rooster on the roof legislates
our depression then forgets to watch for mangoes
falling from heaven onto his uncombed head.
My sister, at the asylum, is often mistaken
for a chandelier. I lied. Her hair in my hands.
Her body still at home. The house beneath us,
rancid, from ranting. The knives we hold
to each other’s throats. The bees, collected
from a white cup full of rum and coke, rest
like drunk and sated uncles in the palm
of my sister’s hand. Close your eyes, she says
to Mother. I have a present. I say nothing.
My mouth, uncollected and silent as rope.
Boy Removing Fleas
—after Ter Borch: Boy Removing Fleas from a Dog by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Even the trees must perform sorrow. Look,
now they are performing the performance
of sorrow. Like Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance,
because a boy falls from a great height—
white legs, green splash, wax wings—
everything must suffer by proxy. Even the Old
Masters understood they, too, would fray
beneath the teeth and belch of a blue maggot,
that a sister cannot be saved from an itch, turned
over like a black dog, cured with a lit match,
the fleas scattering into the threads of an autumn
lawn. Her itch must run and run and run.
But a boy must try, burn what he can. Burn. Burn.
Six Months After the Asylum
My sister is a rake. The leaves impaled
upon her tines quiver. It’s the Christian
inside her that believes in the season
of hangings. Where does prayer begin?
I seem to have misplaced my ladder.
I’m at the bottom of a pool and can’t swim.
Apollo, Neruda, and Not Yet—
Your brother in the red car, the gun to his mouth,
The caravan of afternoon suburbia blipping by:
Cracked windshield, pop fly, the wet wet of autumn
In Houston: tendrils of a hydrangea waiting
For the first frost—sometimes, we need a reason
To die and sometimes we need only an excuse:
A lover and then nothing like a lover: a car keyed:
The doors rusting in the salt and swagger of a bay:
Whales lose their direction in winter, they say:
Who will identify the body: the mortician asked
Is he white: whale-white: we said black-white: as in
There was a boat his grandfather came over on;
It was black; everyone said he looked white
Until he pulled back his lips, showed them his gums.