Driving down a side street
firetrucks and ambulances surround
a two-story house with blue shutters.
The smell of smoke rushes through
the windows and permeates the stale air
of the car’s failing air conditioner.
A couple stands, crying
hands on their heads
drawing circles on the asphalt
with their ashy paces.
I turned to my side and found no passenger beside me.
An EMT held his hand for me to stop
and let a car from the other direction pass.
As he motioned me on and I drove away,
I watched the couple slowly drown,
choked and suffocated by the blaring red lights,
regretting memories never made.
“Zofran 4 IV”
“Brevital 40 IV”
“Etomidate 20 IV”
“Succinylcholine 100 IV”
“Zofran, Brevital are in.”
“Is it alright if we place this oxygen mask over your mouth?”
“Sending etomidate now.”
“You’re gonna start feeling sleepy now, okay?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll take great care of you.”
Air swallows my lungs.
Back arches to the crosshatched,
cardboard ceiling above me.
Head wretches over my right shoulder.
Bite holes in the suffocating oxygen.
Fisted kicks and flailing ticks
as time falls to a meandering sludge.
I watch you walk away
in the reflection of the oven,
as Sufjan Stevens sings death hymns
that ricochet against my back. You return
to take out the fish, and I feel
that intentioned gust of heat
caress my face.
I look at the tile like a window.
It’s been a week and six days
since the last treatment,
and I feel it deeply.
It wraps around my arms and legs,
binding them together—it swallows
my vision, damp and dumb and dull.
The pressure is constant
and oppressive. Coddling me
like an infant, it encases my body
and sways me through the minutes.
Dinner is ready.
Three empty chairs
painted and scratched,
leaning and stale,
a fake fireplace to their right.
glows of orange and red
grow and relax in fixed intervals.
glows of orange and red
they spread and spread and spread.
Lightning is faster than thought,
I’ve learned. That bolts can erase
history as well as science-fiction.
And I don’t know whether a thing
that was only ever there for me
existed if I cannot remember it.
So it drowns me in guilt, over
the deaths of things that never
The stain is drying on the coffee table.
Fat baby fingers make first depressions,
and bigger ones grab him by the waist
to lift him away. Meanwhile, little
umber pockmarks craft bitesize scenes
of tragedy: ships swept up by rolling
waves, stranded sailors lamenting
their soon-to-be widows; oscillations
in the grain foretell the thin scratches
of quakes in the crusted earth; lightning
bolts the door of fate shut on sorry souls.
Baby is asleep now, dreaming of sailors
and quakes and lightning and godly
fingers pressing valleys in the sky.
I can feel my future leak
from my mind—not in-
to world or onto paper,
but void. Tarlogged and
sinking, it pools around
my run-rough ankles.
Rising through my thin-
ning capillaries, murky
sap drags me catatonic
and dumb into its half-
paced ocean of weight.
God, I swear—some day
ago, I wanted to live.
He took you to Sweden, you
know the maps too well,
sprawl thin like the ripply
grooves of fingerprints
left on your skin—so much
like yours when you watch
them writhe, in dark hours
and— sleep like sleep-like
fire oh. oh.
oh. oh. oh.
I swallow the seeds in every bite; juice
floats down my chin. I run naked, screaming
toward a nest of honey bees. I relish—
the barbs embed my stomach, my arms,
my face and legs. The venom blitzes
through my blood, screeching in
my arteries. The bees, slower, flutter
around my rage and hope until they
drop—from the air—dead. I make
desperate angels in the corpses
begging every God I can invent
the names of. As the twitching stills
into silence, the Queen shuffles from
her home and, bearing a grief so profound
curls herself gently, her soft and fragile,
into the psalm of my hand. With great
effort, she unsheathes her weapon and
offers it to me with quiet dignity.
Understanding, I accept the blade and
hover it above her wrinkled fur. I wait
for a moment, for last words—
of which I know she has none; still
we breathe out in unison, and I
plunge this through her tensed body
and into mine. She writhes, wraiths—
no complaint, contempt, or spite
Tears and tears on my skin, I cry.
I swallow the seeds in every bite.
God died today. (By God, I mean
Myself, and by today I mean now)
that sun and plant and bed arenot.
God died in a fire today. (By fire
I mean a real fire, big with prickly
fingers) God died today. He really
did and he meant it. God died in
a Fire today. (By fire I mean God
and by fire I mean myself I mean
I mean the fire and by God and
by fire I mean myself and by—no
By God, I mean fire by fire-God
— it’s not
I mean by myself I fire the God
—wait. God good Good god by
Fire I mean wait for me to come
Home I mean by Fire the God is
a Gun and—no, think. The order
Is all wrong I think the Order is
First myself then fingers, the fin-
gers, then fire, then fire, then fire,
then gun, then God, (Oh god.)