I knew a man who went around the world
renaming everything. The prune became
fingertip, the verb feed became immerse.
I have never seen anything that wasn’t
what it wasn’t. The wind chime announcing
the next thing. Some pull away from pleasure
dropping blinds, taking off their high heels
and lip stick, kissing the air like a greasy
hamburger stays on the lips. After the full belly
the empty belly. Thus the cycle of hungry
not hungry, thus what we want is not always
what we need. There will never be another pyramid
but we have so many. Never another Van Gogh
but there are caves where dead buffalo
still walk, large as a child’s idea of kings,
small men blown in charcoal holding spears
or playing drums, a village on fire, maybe
the moon like the underside of a coin
left on the eyes of an emperor. And if
that’s not enough. If we diminish from
too much hunger, we will eat hunger
too. We will call it bright blessing,
gazelles roaming freely over the country
of our bodies no word or song could contain.
My god has always been a question
getting smaller every day. When I die,
I hope it will be the size of a mosquito’s dream.
Until it is easier to imagine war with bombs of cotton
candy. Until the herds of buffalo become sick
of licking the same tumbleweed.
Phil says some nights I am a girl
with a frog in one hand and knife in the other.
A child in a book who turns a dandelion into
sugar. All that something turned something
else. Then. And then. And then what’s left
is the voodoo man pinned inside you
where so much depends on the physics of rivers,
the theory and practice of shattering. Clusters of
dead animals in little piles on a playground
where once there was no forest and once
a dead man kissed the back of someone’s hand
like it was the best he could do, hoping for rain,
something to give our nothing lives something
that could fall and later ascend, soul-like, as
nothing. Give me that fogged up heaven,
those mountains breaking down like a man
wrapped in snakes repenting for everything
he hasn’t done. Give me a coffin and an ideology to fill it.
Flowers in the infirmary, moths shooting out our sleeves.
The dead are a river we’ll step in once. I am painting
a red string along the wall and calling it
my country. A bird’s foot, a small X
in god’s registry. Somewhere we are somewhere
else. Turning the pages of the book about how lovely
sometimes it is to be scattered, old boat in storm,
a name written on a fogged-up mirror. My glow
fish. My triumphant. Oh my sweet sweet boy.
Recall the lesson: you could live a thousand years
and if you do it wrong, each one will matter less
than a whale song at Sea World or what I said
one morning at the zoo to a very distinguished
penguin or what I said to the empty open eyes
of the dead stranger I found. The dream is always sad
no matter the country. It’s all wrong and then it’s all wrong
again: the audience on stage and the actors
clapping at the dark, a thirty-year old pitching a perfect game
to drunk children. Say you want a different story.
The boot never falls and you’re making a home
where the baseballs fly over the fence and land in the backyard
of heaven, flower-adjacent. Where they say there is no grief
in an empty pocket. I once placed a call to nowhere
and my dead friend picked up. He told me
to love the smallest thing. Dr. Skipper, Royal Crown, American
Busch. Throats of flowers opened into baby
raptors. Lovely to think someone, even now, is singing
it’s a nice day to start again. Heaven is a Place on Earth.
If you have an empty pocket, you have nothing to lose.