SORRY I FORGOT TO TELL YOU EARLIER
Stoned, I found her in an alley
not far from Topps on 34th.
Why she ran away from the abbey
I didnt find out until months later.
Smiling wildly while curled next to a dumpster
in a corner, she was
more alive than me, a heretic nun
masturbating with a dildo of innuendoes.
What the fuck is this? I mumbled
to myself, watching her come
and then, sobbing, withdraw into shadows
cast by dogs with certaintys insolence dripping
from their ears.
Against her will, I dragged her to her feet and pulled her
around the corner to the automat
on 8th Ave., where she consumed
three helpings of macaroni and cheese.
When Louie, Topps bartender, came in
and wanted to know who she was, she snapped,
The only woman our Savior ever laid!
Laughing, Louie asked, Did he like it?
I took her home and fucked her, frightened
of all the things I once believed.
When she left six months later
I went with her.
A week afterwards in Dayton, she entered
a McDonalds to take a leak
Wherever Jesus is these days, hes probably
crying for Carlotta to come back.
Every day at first light, the trees
outside the window materialize,
while I slip into wrinkled clothes and old boots
and proceed, with a sense of pleasant isolation
like eating berries in a pasture no one knows is there,
to the garage where I remove the garden spade
from its hook, grab a small plastic bag
from the workbench drawer, then traipse a mile
to Limestone Rd. where I always find,
within a few hundred feet of where I stand,
some roadkill rabbit, squirrel, raccoon or cat
which I scoop up with the spade and dump
into the bag, then head home, where,
after frying what Ive caught in butter and diced onion,
I eat my meal, after which I prepare to write
of love and other things too subtle
to decipher without first having satisfied my appetite
by downing those enigmas
of meat and blood, which I
eventually vomit in the basement sink, then use
as mortar for these poems, these
little word-houses in disrepair, their doors long-ago kicked in
by cops looking for the cunt junkie
whose death is the only voice I hear.
YOU WILL MAKE ME WEEP SOON
Like a collection of the illusions you created,
the embalmed body, posed perfectly on its pillows,
is the ventriloquist whose mouth stays closed, no matter what.
I think I can hear him thinking, Aunt Emily says,
suckered as usual by any hint of mystery.
But I cant think, dont you know that? I reply, realizing
Im the guy in the box.
Alive, I wanted something, a purity of passion, so invented it
but screwed up the inventing, and this is what I got.
Now, after all these days or years, do I hear rain falling
on the Front St. tracks, or is that you weeping daintily
in a room with glass doors that look out on everything?
I wonder if Mr. Grace owns all of Indias neem trees yet
or what the last paleontologist will do, lowered
into one of Cripple Creeks oldest mines, hunting
in rock and carbon for a hint
of the falcons wings beginnings, or the origins
of state militiamen burning miners children in a tent
erected on a knoll so holy no known language is now spoken there.
You see, even dead, what Im best at
is being one of your diversions, wily enough
to ask prophetic questions without parting my lips.
I hope I entertained you.
I hope my poems were fun sex-toys from which you got good use.
This is what my epitaph should state:
Once he was alive. Now hes not.
IF YOU WANT, GO
If you want, go.
First, though, climb
the maple outside my window.
Look at me through the glass, writing words that
like the blood between your legs
floods thickly into existence, soaking
your tampon and leaking everywhere
if you dont watch out. Notice how
I eat the hyacinth yanked from the Etruscan vase, as if,
a geneticist in my research lab,
Ive found a way to make plants taste like lamb.
See also how I stare at this photo of a Holy Mother statue:
from the shoulders down, her torso is a set of double doors
and when I pull them open, the cosmos that we live in
unfolds to infinity inside.
Dont stay now, go; Im just an older man
too close to death to divert you with my obsessions.
I want to sit here with the Virgins
torso open on my lap,
examining her spleen and liver, and also
overseeing you in there
as you try, scooting this way and that,
the outer limits of the Virgins
see, there you are,
a tiny pretty thing so full of life
that you make the Virgin giggle,
the way you run about so child-like.
Everything is in there:
the baby Amy killed then threw in the dumpster,
the forsythia branch quaking under the cardinals weight,
the police in riot gear marching toward
not thought itself, but anywhere thought travels.
Hold my hand,
I want to run with you
its spring the smell of April teargas and daffodils
later, like deer, well eat the meadows clover
except I know you wont be there
NIGHT LESSONS: AN AESTHETICS OF HISTORY AND LOVE
If my no-good father was on the other side,
he wouldve drunk gin and raped every bride he saw,
Uncle Bill lectured about Pearl Harbor, making sense
like philosophers do, by mangling the subject.
Later, when he got drunker, he blurted,
I dont like it, you gettin fuckin looped like this,
to which I gave a response I no longer remember.
It was late and raining when we left,
the river pounding the jetty near the elevator factory.
Whatever else wasnt true, this was:
flour-caked rolling pins lay on counters in apartments
whose senselessness took you further than order could.
Dirty gutter water soaked our ankles
as we splashed toward coffee in a diner
where the waitress told us Blums wife had died the day before of cancer.
Bill didnt care.
You just remember this, he instructed, then pointed
toward the rain-battered window, through which
nobody could see a thing, except
the rain itself, the density of its billowing, the way
it smashed the unseen with a violence that we loved.
By this time, my Uncle Bill sobbing, and the waitress
asking him to come around the corner to her flat,
no one knew what was going
on, so many things
happening at once.
Robert Bohm. 2001.