“Across the water
a train moves slow against the trees
like the bow of an aching violin.
At my side a child
is begging her mother for milk.
The mother is a broken staircase with fresh paint.
Someday the daughter’s dreams will fall through
and I will turn my chest into an elevator
right before she tells me
For now I say, ‘Listen to that train.
It is full of milk.’
The mother grabs the daughter by the sleeve,
pulls her down the beach.
On the shore the daughter finds a pebble
the color of a wedding gown,
puts it in her mouth,
crookeds her teeth,
is no longer hungry.
I dream I am a prince
or a knight
in shining removable armor.
My love’s last lover is a sword
I keep falling on.
I think too much when I kiss.
If love did not exist
I would be so goddamn sane
my poems would be billboards.
Suburbia would be enough.
I would not have to gut myself to find my spine
crushed into powder
and brushed on her cheekbones.
My hair would not be a hummingbird’s nest.
My mind would not have to move so fast to rest.
I would not be in North Carolina
tearing flowers from the motel flowerpots,
searching for a love-me-not I can drop like a guillotine
on my own gallop chest.
It is incredible what kind of mess I can make
with a nine-hour drive and an unanswered text.
Yes, that is me
crying to the tollbooth man.
‘In the ghost town of our love
there is a player piano
trying to prove it can make music
without being touched.
My fingertips miss her so much.’
He hands me no change.
Tells me there’s a Laundromat down the highway
that is also a bar.
I could make a clean getaway.
I could fall of the wagon and catch
a freight train of insanity straight through this mountain.
I could at the very least wash my clothes
so I could for once in my life know
what it’s like to have control of the spin cycle,
what’s it’s like to know
what the yarn knows of sweaters,
how to hold myself together.
Love, I know it is not sexy to make-out
with someone who so constantly
has their foot in their mouth.
But remember I am also the one who told you
I want to feel you like the lifelines on the palms of Jesus
felt the nails go through.
I want to make popcorn with you, with the lid off.
Yes, that’s sexy alk.
Yes, I’m freaky.
Yes, I heard the bartender say
it is not holy water if it doesn’t burn going down
and you are hot
enough to keep me sober
on a Saturday night on Bourbon Street.
I told her, ‘You have a heart of gold
and I am kneeling in your bloodstream
panning for the only thing that has ever felt like home.’
Across the water a train moves
slow against the trees, and I say, ‘Listen
to that train. Let’s follow it wherever it goes.’”