ppppppwork boots fill to brim
with abandoned rain water
pppppp& orange carp swim the plastic sandbox.
Across the way ppppppif you squint
four window lights form a bright crucifix,
ppppppneedles scatter sidewalk a halo of thorns.
Daddy POW’s been back 30 years
pppppphis nine greyhounds
loop the in-ground pool ppppppscratch a track
ppppppppppppinto the soil’s supple arm.
His adult daughters loom the yard like dull buffalo
ppppppmade of molasses & slurred speech
(must be fetal alcohol —
ppppppdon’t you think?) pppppIt is a strange scene, true —
but has become what is. The one odd thumb. Otherwise,
pppppppthe day is a static sun. Each house wears
the same innocent skirt of grass
ppppppp& crisp white teeth.
Now god forbid the curtains flew open, nipped by a sudden breeze.
Who could unsee the backlit theater of suburban vignettes?
someone ppppppicking out their eyelashes
someone pppppbroken hearted, practicing a knife through wet meat
someone pppppcarving a knife beneath blouse
someone pppppcrying in front of the television set
someone ppppimaking a bottle it’s lover in two different mouths
someone pppppforgetting the fish who are floating in their tank
someone’s pppptongue pppppppbecoming switch
someone’s pppptongue pppppppbecoming glass
someone’s pppptongue ppppppplicking the icing off tiny cakes
someone’s pppptongue ppppppplicking out the ear of infidelity
someone’s pppptongue: pppppiiia song crescendoing
pppppp& the shades snap open like
pppppppppppppppppppa mouth slapped shut.
Pause for a courteous silence before gossip cracks
ppppppploud as an audience clapping for encore
ppppppp& coughs out a storm.
Weather vanes on each identical roof whip like propellers.
The murmurs pile atop themselves, flock into the shape
ppppppof a tornado, then breaks off into limbs, grows feet,
tries to run but only hovers, throws a paper bag over its head
pppppppbut cannot hide.
In the final scene, a man is dragged away in cuffs. Arguably handsome.
ppppppWhat will the audience assume he did?
They’ll agree something crazy. They’ll say you should never trust
pppppppthe ones that seem too normal. They’ll say, makes you wonder
about everyone, doesn’t it? Close the curtain on a woman on her knees.
ppppppHis poor wife, they’ll say. His poor wife. Hispoorwife.
Two Years Into the Hole Called My Loneliness
I used to dream of longhaired daughters
to burn the grief from our bodies, to move
through us like tapeworms, eating the beast
from your blood, what made you spoil.
Instead five officers with shorn heads came
to feed like leeches from my largest wound.
Kicked our bedroom door into two halves.
I am lonely for the way you split me open.
After they took you away, I nearly broke
my beauty imagining a lover I could stand
in bed beside me, until he came faceless,
head wrapped in a crown of dying stars.
Do not ask about the hours I spent with him
sweating until the wind stopped silent.
I do not love him. I’ve never stopped waiting
for you, perched like an injured bird, throatless,
this pretty heart boxed up on the counter,
a hardening pastry becoming stone.
If you stop loving me, don’t say it.
Don’t toss me back to the useless woods
where I once belonged. I ran away to you.
I still want my pleasures simple, sunblind.
I color you as a child would, bright
twin to that mammoth ball of fire filling
the page to each corner, then spilling flames,
burning me up, frightening the trees.
This is the way I’ve learned to measure time:
I will write you until the end of this bottle,
until sleep comes heavy as an ogre to slam
a door on the living, then I will dream
and wake sick with a feeling that everything
I touch will turn to liquid, even the air
pools around the warm pad of my finger.
I will walk through the bars between us
but still won’t be able to hold you solid, hands
loose as waterfalls, wanting but uselessly cruel.