|Oct/Nov 2003 • Poetry • Special Feature|
Your last tv appearance
proved your brokenness.
Death already had you
by the ankles. You were already
Your collapsing face locked itself
into my brain cells. More jailtime for you—
if only I could find your skeleton
key. But if I did I'd swallow it down
with a shot of the hard stuff. Then
you'd stake your claim on all
my guts; my belly would bear
your mint. And I don't know
if I'd release you, no matter
how much you'd fuss and kick.
You haven't done your time.
You were the prince of dusk,
the runt-pup of midnight and noon.
Some said you were more
like your father, the night,
but then you'd open your mouth
and dawn after dawn would come rolling
out over the stereo. In my ears,
those burgundy suns would blaze whole,
but now they've all busted
open, bloodying the darkening sky,
but now they've all set.
You were sure of heaven.
You didn't need to open
your eyes to see Jesus moseying
along at your side. You knew
that whenever you'd trip
He'd stifle a laugh before offering
you his holy arm. When I open my eyes,
I don't see a damn thing.
I'd need binoculars—no, a telescope—
to find any proof of heaven.
And maybe then I'd see a hint of
your starling wing, shining
both pearl and ebony;
then maybe I'd hear the thunder-bark
of your voice, scaring all those fool
angels right off their clouds.