Poem Beginning with a Line Stolen from James Tate
Your face did not rot like the others. When my brother caught you shoplifting
hogs from the stockyards, I taped your mugshot over the top of my glasses
until you blanched like the ragtag flags on the moon. Tonight, television croons
kung-fu & hooligans shoot roman candles from their kitchen to my roof. If door
handles turn to fume, then skin will burn to saddle. What’s your damage, Winona?
In films I watch you croak, but every rewind is another chance for elegy. Love
letters to the dead in my dresser, tied to my chest like a bomb. Calm & cool,
my spaghetti sits like you with a pixie haircut. My stomach: a sunken canoe.
Why do I choose to pick up binoculars & search these lonely suburbs for you?
The delinquent cats skedaddle & Marcy, in her birthday suit, billows in the pool
with 90 proof. Win, I used to heart her like I did you. Those parking lots, those
ski resorts, where we learned every true story about improv. If she told me her
astrology, I could predict the weather. Scorpio? Thunder! Some mornings, while
smoking on the fire escape, I rearrange our screams & thorns until both alpha
& omega are caught naked on the road together. Winona, how often do you mix
metaphors with coke? Did Johnny ever take you snorkeling? Fine, if you want me
to stop avoiding the subject, there’s no assembly required. We can say the unrest
in my chest is hurt, but everyone knows it’s just the fire from my tachycardic heart.