~after Richard Siken
Leave the gun on the table, this has nothing to do with happiness,
this is when the revolver’s spinning chamber
click click clicks
like the wheel of numbers
on a combination safe. Put the stethoscope over your heart
and listen for the mechanisms locking
into place, because the combination
is an ex-girlfriend’s phone number
long forgotten, like which chamber contains
the live round, and which are the blanks.
Have you ever danced with the Devil
in the pale moonlight? Have you felt the tremor
at the edge of your self, a mapping of the smallest sound
quivering like the shadows of leaves?
Blame your madness on the ellipses of orbits,
then discover that you were wrong,
madness is a genetic defect,
a motorcycle with one wheel,
a motor-unicycle revved until it smokes.
There’s an earthquake every seven seconds,
or maybe I made that up. Perhaps the moon
is breathing, taking us into her lungs (daylight),
and exhaling us like fire, back into the blackness.
Forget everything I just said
and read a science book.
Memorize mathematical equations like poetry
solving problems you can measure,
such as whether or not this body
I believe in the genetic defects that make us unique,
ready to pass change on to the next generation,
with death still an incurable sexually transmitted disease,
that’s just my sense of humor showing,
I’m dealing with my grandfather’s cancer
coming out of remission, working its way
through his body like mercury snakes,
climbing into the left frontal lobe
devouring the eggs of his memory,
while I write a poem
about finding hope in the taste of salt.
I’m washing my hands with cold coffee.
I’m taking showers that leave my skin raw and red,
steam unspooling from my flesh
like ghost tentacles, not fully realized.
I am never rid of the scent of magnolias,
rolling in that yellow field,
plucking an ant from the rim of your ear.
If you said you loved me,
I would remember it,
but you said I was a murderer,
and I remember that instead.
Where do babies come from when the storks are stranded in oil?
Try building a castle out of sludge.
Try setting the ocean on fire.
I’m falling asleep writing this
thinking you’ll fall asleep reading it.
Everyone knows babies are made
French kissing the moon.
That offends the astronauts,
but luckily astronauts don’t read my poems,
because poems aren’t concerned
with geosynchronous satellites
or jet propulsion engines meant to break
the bonds of gravity.
The Devil doesn’t dance. The Devil takes you to the dentist.
The Devil is the dentist. She says swish this around
in your mouth for thirty seconds.
The drill hums like a dial tone
after speaking to someone for the last time,
no one will understand
any of these references.