Dear teenager in the Kill Yourself t-shirt,

First of all, don’t tell me what to do.
Don’t listen to music that requires throat lozenges,
Don’t draw all over your goddamn converses,
Don’t run in the hallways,
Don’t skip breakfast,
Don’t drag your feet,
Don’t forget to floss,
Don’t

Just change your fucking shirt.
I’m a shitty adult
and I’ve crossed paths
with a guy named Puppy
on more than one occasion
in the past month.

I do recommend flossing at regular intervals, however.

Fledglings

I love the way the birds blossom
Into the sky like a whirring symphony.

We've learned from them the thrill of being airborne
The yin and yang of pressure.

But we haven't learned

To listen with our bones
To migrate on the winds

And not let electricity get to us

Or drink the water when the wind blows
The branch after the rain

“There’s only one thing I fear, and that’s God.”

I couldn’t expect you,

while I waited sweltering by the window of an Uptown po’boy shop,

to have a nihilistic revelation right there

between the humming soda cooler and the counter.

 

You did admit that you were stupid,

but implored your fellow po’boy patron

as you cracked open your second root beer

to “read the book”

after practicing your sermon about Isaiah

on that foot-tapping construction worker.

 

You had a childlike eagerness that made be believe

that you had indeed been reborn sometime

seven or eight years ago after waking up

in your own whiskey vomit

and going to church still-drunk

without your wife even telling you to.

 

The words trickling out of your meek-at-last mouth

“He still loves me. He forgives me,”

each time injecting your conscience

with a shot of righteousness.

 

So you read the first and only book you’ve ever read,

after being hardened by damp New Orleans after dark

for two whole decades,

heartened at the way that book

butterflies out in front of you with all of the answers

printed neatly in columns

punctuated by a Word every so often

a Word that you float on,

The Thing that loves you the most,

and that you fear the most.

On Sundays

Your fingertips move up my spine
Whispers slip through parted lips
And finally our hips align.

Supine Sundays limbs entwined
Hours mix with moving hips
Your hands take trips along my spine.

I’ll drink yours and you’ll taste mine
Our tongues eclipse
our lips align.

In wrinkled sheets we’ve built our shrine
A trace of salt upon our lips
A swell of heat ellipsing spines.

With twilight comes a sip of wine
Sunday slips
Our hips align.

Tightened grips
And waltzing hips
A shock of heat moves up my spine
And once again our lips align.

Jesus

I will not return
Until the last sword is sheathed
And the last slave unshackled,
Until the last drop of vitriol
Leaves the lips
Of the last false prophet.

I will not come back
Until the last bomb falls
And the last bullet flies,
Until the last bruise on the face
Of the last victim heals,
And the last splash of acid
Soaks the last child bride.

Before you revere me,
Love each other.
Before you close your eyes in prayer,
Open your hearts.
Before you beg forgiveness from God,
Forgive your brothers.

When the sun turns black
And the sea foams red,
It will be with the soot and blood
You have created.

When my oncologist saw me smoking

Every other time she’d seen me, my feet were in the stirrups. She’d felt the plush of my midsection and she’d groped my tits in search of lumps before finally retreating down to my nether regions to crank me open and swab and biopsy and inspect the inside of me. She knew about my sexual history, my menstrual cycle, and the cantaloupe-sized tumor that her colleague had plucked out of me along with my ovary. She knew what hormones ran through my veins. But only when I saw her in public through the plume of carcinogens that had just left my lungs – only then did my face grow hot, my stomach churn, my heart double-dutch around my intestines. Only then did I feel naked.

September

They see us in multitudes, you know.

The flies that mimic our dance

and visit through the porthole that brings us September -

Eighty million times the same image,

divorced from the brutish coherence

that turns the tango into an accident

on a parquet floor.

We’re a shaky weeklong waltz tapped out on cobblestone.

Bless Again the Water

I hope you weren’t insulted
by the five dollar bill that appeared
in your suitcase while you bathed in the sink.

When you came back and asked who did it,
I couldn’t confess.

The way your skin was draped over your bones -
I wanted to iron it out.
I wanted to wash your stained glass eyes
And prune the years off of your gnarled fingers.

I wanted to restore the frescoes of your faith,
And bless again the water
that you were baptized in.

On Becoming a Heathen

You’ll pry open the cupboard
timidly, so that no one else can hear.
You’ll find a thought once untouched
and then another
ad infinitum.

You’ll find everything you need
to reinvent the Universe
from scratch.

You’ll want to wake the others up
for a midnight snack -
and perhaps one last supper -
but they’ll be asleep
in the garden
shrouded by the mist
of the Lotus flowers.

So you’ll take it in solitude,
hunched over the breakfast table
flicking casually through
human history,
no longer making excuses for the ink
that will collect on your finger like a mountain
snowcapped with every speck of Hell’s ashes.

La Petite Mort

You’ll never let me again, will you?
Last time
(it will not be the last)
you dangled me over the edge of Hell
of wild Hell
a Hell that bloomed
and withered
sine and cosine,
Where my words were mangled
and my pleas muffled into senseless echoes
by your searching hands
and interrupted by your lesson.

Next time it will be your Hell –
the floor of Geneva
the second circle.
Between convulsions you’ll once more tell me to
“say when”
But this time I won’t do it i will not
I will not whimper permission for you to let me go
to let me go to let me fall
to let me
die.

When the cosmos begin to erupt
and the seas begin to boil
and the storms of the apocalypse light up
behind our closed eyelids –
I’ll ignore your incantations.
I will not fall
but instead will hover above
and puppeteer you
on the floor of Geneva
“When?”
Never.