Shall We Be Merry?


You can call them boots on the ground

but I’ll still say leather houses filled

more with sand than bone, but big fat

deal—I’m sleeping in late having those puckered

dreams that catch in me like Wal-Mart bags

in the trees. I’ll point out that the fluttering

shape in the elm is the same as our DNA

on the hottest days of July, and you’ll nod.

You’ll kiss my hand and start to cry. Tell me

that you wish none of this would have happened.

My eyes, oh my pinhole pupiled eyes, I’ll wail.

So stare into them and tell me what you see
in there. I know my head is a basement

filled with shadows sitting around a table

yelling Yahtzee! and plucking at the light

that pools in the corner of my eyes

with busted up pool cues. If they catch you

peeking in tell them I’d like my tools back
and a four-egg omelet like the one I’m eating

in each memory I have of Keenan. In each

he touches a spoon to his nose at the breakfast table

and tells me that the oven nearly swallowed

me whole the night before. That it was one

of the funniest things he’s ever seen, but some-

how, at the same time, it makes him want

to weep. Jason stands behind him

strumming a guitar and it is on fire. It is

smoking. I guess that sums up what’s happening

on the flickering screen in there. Look again

and it’s the sequel. Man screws his own hand

into a phone pole, gets mad and then screws

everything around him until everything, everything

is dead. So we passed all of the time we had

shaking incontinent in the backyard

and reaching out for things that keep

moving right on by, leaving us to stand

in line getting more bovine and poorer

until the weight of our cataracts tug

on us like the pull the man who stood

in the locker room of my college felt. Tennis

shoes tied around, and dangling from his brain-

like scrotum until security chased him away.

I guess my position on this scorched and windless

day is more about sitting outside

staring at the rat in the orange

tree than saying howdy governor

to the asshole that lives across the way.

If it means I don’t get the extra chicken

skin, even if it means I go to hell, I have

found a way to be at peace with this. Welcome,

I say, put it in the hole chief, please place

all of your belongings in this here duffle bag

and get on the fucking floor.  Check one,

check two. Hold the mirror below
the nostrils, and do the kind of math

you can’t get wrong. Four plus four

equals a white sheet large enough

to cover a football field packed shoulder

to shoulder with the dead. Next, try

multiplication and painkillers. Some

of us are having heart attacks right now.







You wake behind a wheel. You wake riding a horse. You wake on your back in a field while above you stars whir. The wheel is slick. The horse is soft. The stars are too many to count. You rest your head on the wheel. You rest your head on the horse’s neck. The stars seem to pull your head up and you rise. Whatever the wheel is controlling has not stopped moving. Each time the horse gallops your jaw snaps together. You name each star George—pointing and turning and pointing—until you are disoriented and you can’t tell one George from the next. There are too many Georges. It is a car you are driving. It is raining when you look up. Finally you are stopped, but it is a ditch you have stopped in. The horse, on the other hand, will not stop. Many ditches you have leapt over or down into and then back up. Here, too, in the ditch it is raining. There are spiders on your eyelids, you think, as your stomach rises into your throat. And there are so many brilliant Georges above you—the rain coming down, the stars fizzing in the sky, leaves pinwheeling off of the elms—it is no longer just your stomach rising. It is everything going red red red as you turn inside out.