the Record Courier, 1978
This yellow page
time, history, me. Standing up,
head tilted, watching a team of kids
build kites and bottle rockets.
A woman cop, event coordinator,
kneels in the grass,
Charlie's Angels feathered hair.
In the picture Dave McCormack
studies his rocket like science.
I remember following that kid
like he was a brother, that coolness
you notice when you're five.
Dave Miracle, thirteen years old
with baby fat, ran my friend over
ten years later. Didn't kill him but
left dents in his skull. his legs
crooked as arced clouds.
The girl with the scary kite,
I don't remember her at all.
Twenty years later this image
captures me. Can't recall
flying that rocket, but remember
this picture, filed away in a bible.
It was two years after a
grapefruit sized tumor was plucked
from under my brain. Didn't expect
anything then but slow reflexes and
mountains of toys.
Twenty years later I would've laughed
if someone said I'd love women,
or be involved with a woman,
or let one unbutton my pants.
And not run away, but enjoy it.
Twenty years later I would've scoffed
if someone said my grandma would die.
Not around to watch gameshows or baseball,
make carrot cake, coffee, pickled eggs.
If someone had said, in one year, we'd plant
my grandma, my uncle and two good friends.
Twenty years after this day.
four months before this poem,
three beers into a warm evening:
Sadness burns in my stomach
I see my small yellow self,
ready to ride that bottle rocket.
Seatbelt fastened. Ready to fly,
ready to fall.
Sinking in my Living Room
A pissed worker in
Cleveland shit in a section
of the water treatment plant.
News says a worker found it
floating along. He's
on the run. City council
calls this terrorism.
I got all kinds of shit
skimming the top of
my sink, bathtub and
dishwater. I live alone.
This crazy guy, Mark,
he was a medic in Vietnam.
His stories make you turn.
Once fished a bloated head
out of the Mekong Delta.
Christmas Eve delicacy in
Warsaw, Poland is Carp.
Morning lines form to buy
the biggest, blackest fish
in the tank. To keep it fresh
until butchering, the carp swims
in the bathtub. Baths come
after dinner, The Carp is alone.
An ambulance sounds but
not for me. Tonight,
I think of things
floating, swimming. Monsters.
Scum in my toilet. Carp
on Death Row, the angry shit,
the waterlogged skull.