By the seventh hour the back of my shoulder was beginning to break
crouching and heaving
my hand and your forehead
over the cooler I lifted your necklace out of
before it filled with the hot bile
I hoped wasn’t blood
thick and yellow
your tears viscous down my throat
your small dark body
wet between my legs
dripping out of my arms
onto the plastic floor of the tent
that was becoming just as small and dark
when you poured in
I had nothing to give you but kisses
long and insistent at the base of your neck
we pressed into you
with my hands and her hands and his hands
crowding out shadow
squeezing a sponge
making your stomach my stomach and clean
It had to get violent
this precious care
I rubbed hard against your chest
bone cracking bone
my knuckles clicking off the mounds of your ribs
where I knew it would hurt
and your head still dropped
I slapped your face
it took four of us to be your limbs and vital organs
it was getting light as I let you go
stayed awake to watch your breathing
tiny lungs and fragile air.
& we climbed up the hill behind the old school house
our shoes wrapped in bread bags, stuffed into rubber
boots, swaddled in layers of cotton-polyester blend
for warmth & thrift instead of fashion. The winter sun
glared down at us, threw bolts of bright ice glare, beamed
off the metal slide in the playground. We felt the wind
scrape its teeth across our faces as we trudged
to the highest peak we could find. Plastic sleds in tow,
greased on the bottom with cooking oil until they shined.
At the summit we took turns counting down from five
before we hurled ourselves with great speed to the snow pile
we’d built as a barrier against the highway. We slid so fast,
so often, wore a groove in the snow like a deep trench,
ignored the need to repair our barrier against the possibility
of death. I had one last run left in me before dinner time
& so I threw my body reckless down the pipeline worn
into melt by heat and friction. I was soaring or careening
at the speed of sound, too fast to hear the scream of speed
in my frostbitten ears, the low hum of traffic throbbing,
trucks blaring their angry horns as I skated across the asphalt,
& their brakes squealing, the tires’ chirping cough
leaving a long black streak in the gray pavement,
my sister’s worried face fading into fog, snow falling dry
like ash on her tongue.
Fourteen seasons lived before
the morning water came running
deep over the creek bed. It rained
the first 19 days of July
that year, and didn’t stop.
I built wading pools every summer,
stacked stones in rows. We kept
crawfish there. Trapped them
in murky pools so full of iron
the red never could wash
out of our clothes and hands.
It takes thirty-six feet of storm wash
to teach you the reason
they’re called mobile homes.
We shivered wet beneath
thin blankets. Drank cocoa
from Styrofoam cups while huddled
underneath the Red Cross tent.
I prayed my stone walls would trap
the water like crawfish, found terror
hidden in the falling sounds of rain.
music is a time machine today
yesterday the sky shared with earthlings a rainbow then a moon
today there will not be a moon to find
maybe in Cairo they can sing to the meteors though not here
the sky muddy the layercake light like icing
but back to yesterday holy holy yesterday
i am a machine you are a machine
want to get lunch
when you are searching for the queen
lower the volume lower your raygun
blink wave blink again
don’t wave a second time the sharks
they can smell the blood in your veins but
when they look down all they see is themselves
they think the other sharks are their own reflections
the ocean floor once was a silver mirror that vanished
nothing has been the same since
September 7th 2007
1. flickering light, foggy deli case
2. animal noises behind onion bin
3. clerk with veiny neck never there
4. beer in case is warm and not beer we want. price is reasonable though.
5. even the toilet paper is expired.
November 23rd 2007
1. nothing to cook here for Thanksgiving.
2. lobster ramen almost killed us once.
3. they’re out of beer.
4. meat in deli case is expanding inside it’s shrink wrap. Looks like a processed meat bomb. Sandwich guy has another tear drop tattoo.
March 8th 2008
1. sign on window:
CLOSED NYC BOARD OF HEALTH. PEST WASTE. MOLD. MILDEW. INFECTIOUS DISEASE.
July 10th 2010
1. activity at bodega
2. crew removes deli case
3. removes the desk with register
4. rips up entire floor
5. have a ten minute conversation with worker out on the street while he tries to get me to leave him alone, explaining the situation, saying, “You have no idea how my life has degraded since this bodega has closed. I have to walk up the hill for beer. I have to get lousy sandwiches at the place over by the hospital.
6. rest of crew getting annoyed at worker who is standing there talking to me instead of helping lug the onion bin out.
7. I tell all the workers I love them.
8. they ignore me.
9. they drag out a soda case and one guy rips his hand open on the door, blood everywhere. disconcerting. bad omen.
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