Regular, Full-Body Fumigations Prevent Nesting Roaches, Panic, and Soul Spots

A shoehorn soap peel sits on the tiled ledge to the
porthole in my tub-shower—glass louvers gut-high

in the wall, so the earth may watch me scouring—
with upturned fins like a mid-stroke manta ray I

twirl and scuff to coax absolving lather (because all
mothers say hygiene heals a gape of wounds), and

I enjoy the soothe of vapor while my nerves are
whipped into a froth and the light separates to

striped piano keys, when for the sixth time today
I’m convinced death’s viscous glaze is plastering

me over; perhaps a salving byproduct is the warm
expurgation of my guilt-stuffed lump of belly fat—

which jiggles when I contort to baptize unmapped
appendages—but the suds usually make me dry-itch.


Man and Sea (with Dog) Wait out a Thunderstorm

He’s splayed under cover of a rainstorm awning
with a spray-on shirt in green weave like tangled kelp—
serif lettering across his tanned breasts has been
parched into an indistinct dither by the hormonal
swings of a foul-mood sun.

And his dog tap-dances with pointed red fox ears
under the gas station windows—tip-tap-
tapping with unclipped claws that mime the practiced knocks of
patent leather stage shoes—the yellow feather of its tail
pursued by a cloud of affection-brown hands:
fluttering wings whose fingers are slivers of washed driftwood,
like what’s under the flakes of peeling blue bow paint on that down-the-road
sailing boat; its overturned hull passes every season in slowness
near the broad, relaxed shoulder of the coast, as it casts
and drags in the sighing vacuums between
stuck RVs that aim themselves like sunbathing snow bears,
angling for a first-time roast of bronze.

The tap shoe pup hits marks to a rolling drum like bullets from God
for the chuckling man who wears the sea on his back; legs figure-eight the piles of
every owned thing stuffed into the paunches of
three plastic grocery bags.

Slanting forms eye the Mesmer roll of numbers clicking;
thread long rubber tubes into the empty bladders of their automobiles—
ears plugged against the music.

Crossroads Memory

Three standing crosses, staggered,
reinforce the salt white scrimmage line of cement curb.

Necks draped in floral strings—
guests in Hawaiian orchid leis attend a beach-side luau.

Rome had famous crucifixions;
my mind reechoes the long death wails of Pict and Gaul.

A traffic light dangles on a cable,
its glossed new body is trimmed in thin reflector yellow—

—no Lazarine resurrection.

full to-go bag

vapors crest, puffing in beaded continents across the wide interior panes
stones of rice grains succumb, mollifying under surges of goading steam

a line of bodies begins between the railings
my sneakers hold their place in the queue

barber pole décor—tabled booths are flecked by gluts of surface crumbs
enameled particle boards bent in gentle L’s pander to the seated form

a number six, no meat, thanks
two spring rolls; duck sauce

the milky hammock of her forearm wobbles gently with each button press
as her tattooed knuckles deposit hominid warmth onto my pocket change

three bills, five coins returned
yes, I’ll wait over there

four thousand years of calligraphic records scratched into tortoise bones
so two girls in school letters can compare complimentary glass-plated palms

a paper bag, folded at one end
on the counter with grease dapples

the wrinkle of a place mat guides a tour through the Han’s astrological zoo
I’m a zodiac rat, groping with plague whiskers for a spill in fat grain sacks

hands shuffleboard my order
I heft its soggy heat like a lantern

a sigh of sober night pulls cool air in turbulent patterns with the yawning exit
I’ll shred my meal like kibbles in paws, dreaming the spine of snaky Great Walls

always whooping

a millennia of longing crafted each
perch in the spiral staircase of my

guarded formulas invoked to spark
dry branch-bark curls into flickering

the connate imperatives of nibbling
anxiety, which gnaw upon the deepened

a bare and violent thirst that can
only be slaked by ardent swallows of

——make mute this crowd of genes;
I am driven deaf by sharp bellows of

chest of crayons

the old wood cask is still there, longer than it is deep, nearly
the size of a music box, with no hinged lid, but one that lifts
off like a sarcophagus top made of rough construction lumber
that’s begun to flake away in chips near uneven edge seams,

butting not quite flush, joined at
imperfect obtuse angles to one

another; it’s coarse-bristle painted with a wan of yellow milk
like banana meat, and sealed by a thin silt of years in Egyptian
style, stamped and inscribed—an unremembered curse been
scrawled in tottering wax—the shorthand for a moniker, gone

decades prostrated in a gully: when
the writing of names was a pagan

ritual aimed to stake permanence on the mundane; inside, a heart
constructed from Crayola nubs and torn sheathing paper, stacked
in rows and lain like lengths of peasants in a mass funeral tomb, who
sailed high into the afterlife—each with a title, from a time when it

was considered benign to call hues
and shades things like flesh tone.