FLOWERS, THE COINS OF THE DEAD, We take on all that is thrown
Flowers, the corn of the dead
We take on all that is thrown
Flowers, cauldrons of death
We take on all that is thrown
Flowers, the call of the death
We take on all that is thrown
Flowers, columns of death
We take on all that is thrown
The link of mustard to egret
The minus and forgiveness of bone
Coin purse, the flower, meander
All is away, to take, donate
Cease and care less to the letter
The flowers of postponement
slinking to yes days of shit and anger
There is rainstorm thump Longer days, shorter fights
A sweater with back-burning buttons
There is rainstorm and man-known complexity
Hostage scenarios thump The dead daubed fluorescent again thump The uniformed and uninformed and beautified
The blue, the blowing, the yet-to-be healed Himberama, the past revolves
Ideals drawn willy-nilly from the box of
The thump on the way to the inside and insiders
The coils, recoils, the insiders left in the cold
The recollected elevation, the rainstorm
Roof tiles, hooves, a mineral-hard memory
of a herd mentality
Himberama Himberama Him-himberama Our light forced rectangular thump again
Go out? Maybe not? Maybe drink at home beside
the silencer. Sketch extra lines on the night horizon
Drink so you are simply out of reach
Stop. Stop. That’s right.
Dream of crinolines, baking apples, your numerable mind
Count and then counterweight the past
Your mind made-up like a bed with hospital corners
Do you savor or sweeten them?
Those spoils of the wonderful and blessed thump I love to carry half-eaten maple cake, business cards with
misleading detail. The fold of an egg, the average family and
the average goodbye. The average six-thirty pick-up
outside work, the average rib-eye, chops galore
I carry smoke
I carry good
I carry vegetable
Hotels that lose a star every year
This is a big and damning city
Even a small-stringed instrument cannot find a home
These are my keys thump These are my personal flowers thump I drink in a house mentioned in pages 23, 29, and 95
I sleep in the house mentioned only on the third-to-last page
I will die in the house mentioned early in the second volume
The thumps remain the same
IT WAS DRIZZLY AND FRIDAY AND THEY WERE POOR, so Yves and his new wife Della decided to dig out the 8mm. The projector—Bell & Howell, heavy and gray with a square-handled top—was passed down from the coat closet, followed by the Thom McCan shoe box, holding its small library of little films, each in a yellow and black cardboard box marked with catchall names like Cabin 1960, Aunt Belle, St. Anne, and such.
“Don’t forget to get that pen,” Yves said. “You can mark the one with your cousin in it.”
Della’s cousin, Pat Farelly, was back in the newspapers as his verdict was due shortly.
“Oh. Gosh right. What if they let him go?” Della brought the box into the living room.
“I don’t think he’s got a chance. Did you see the newspaper? those shackles?” Yves set down the bulky projector, unhasped its pebbly gray clamshell, shucked it. “With his limp on top of that?” The threading wasn’t so tricky, but once that lamp kicked on, it had to keep running or acrid smoke would announce holes burning through the celluloid.
With a china crayon, Della added ‘killer’ to the little carton’s subject line, and set it aside. “Remember how he locked all the doors?” Della always selected the same films, and it wouldn’t be an official movie night without watching Honeymoon, the time the old Falcon got stuck in the snow.
THEY WERE IN EACH OTHER’S PANTS WHEN THE FIRST TWIST OCCURRED: the man wasn’t a protagonist. He was in cahoots with the killer. He, himself, was a killer. Perhaps worse than a killer, because he used likeability and charm to earn trust.
“Oh shit,” Lou said. “Oh shit oh shit.” He shivered as Nancy finished him. His fingers, crushed numb by her waistband, had stopped working. They breathed hard in the stale cab, listening to the film’s muted sound through Lou’s shitty speakers. Their arms crisscrossed into each other’s undone clothing.
Lou rested his head against the seat and let the blood return to his extremities. “Damn, girl,” he said. He hooked his finger, still inside her pants, and Nancy jumped. “Want me to finish you?”
“Nah,” she said.
They pulled away from each other. Nancy rolled down the window, put her arm out, and flicked his mess off her fingers. Pacific wind filled the car. The air felt electrified somehow—simultaneously comforting and buzzing.
Lou sniffed his fingers, still wet with Nancy. She laughed and slapped his hand away from his nostrils.
“Don’t be gross,” she said.
He wiped his hand across his jeans and then reached for the back of her head. They kissed again—sweetly, this time. The passion had run its course. He watched the movie out of the corner of his eye. On the screen, the killer slit a woman’s neck and she screamed, watery.
Nancy moved away from Lou’s lips and rested her chin on his shoulder. She had never liked horror movies, so she stared out the back window.
“You notice that car before?”
Lou turned and looked. The drive-in on the weeknights was their thing because it was usually dead. They could drink, smoke, fool around in the backseat, and not worry about the kids that usually dominated the lot on the weekends. Nothing killed a good buzz like the screams of wild children running between the cars. Tonight had been less populated than usual. The news had predicted rain. There were three other cars in the lot when they arrived. This old, brown Cadillac parked behind their car had not been one of them.
“No,” Lou said.
“I don’t like it.”
“I don’t know.” She paused. “It looks like it’s pretending to sleep.”
DEAR NINE, WHAT’S IT LIKE IN THE AFTERWORLD? Ha ha. Mr. Banks is making me write this. I don’t know why I bother. It’s not like you’re going to read it. Mr. Banks is though, probably, so Hi Mr. Banks! This Assignment is Very Important and not at all Futile.
i miss u
Apparently last week I did not follow the assignment. Mr. Banks was Not Terribly Impressed (his words), and he knows I Can Do Better If I Try (ditto).
So today’s assignment is to write about the last time I saw you. The last time I saw you you were bone gray ash. We took you to the field behind the Marshalls and we let you go. Cage said in some cultures people mixed the ashes into a soup and ate them. Meggie said that was bullshit. Your mom told everyone to shut the crap up and then we all laughed so hard, and it was really inappropriate and the man from your aunt’s church turned red and told us we were being disrespectful but we weren’t really, because I don’t think you would have minded. Then the priest guy said a few words that were all churchy and serious and your aunt cried but only her. The rest of us were cried out, I guess.
Better Mr. Banks?
u always said u would come back and haunt us
r u there?
Today I’m writing in cursive because it takes longer. I don’t like this class but I like math class even less, so I’m going to draw this out for as long as I can. Did you know there is such a thing as imaginary numbers? I mean what the fuck? Like regular numbers weren’t confusing enough already? Look at the loops in my Ls. Lllll. I haven’t used cursive since like 4th grade. Only when I have to sign my name on birthday checks.
School is boring without you. It’s more than boring. It’s horrible. In Home Ec we’re not allowed to cook for a while because someone turned the oven on to “clean” instead of “bake” when we were making the apple cobbler and it just sort of melted and smoked all over the inside of the stove. Now we have to take a written safety test before we are allowed to use any equipment. They moved all the seats around so there’s no gap where you used to sit. Same in English.
what was it like?
Mr. Banks said since I chose not to do last week’s assignment (again) and instead use foul language and procrastinating mechanisms I have to do two this week. I told him these were my private words and he shouldn’t be reading them but he said that’s not what this class is about and I can do that on my own time.
This week we are all writing a letter about a happy memory. Remember when Cage and Meggie and you and me went to the lake and Meggie pushed Cage off the dock before he was ready and he sort of lost his swimsuit and we all saw his butt? Mr. Banks is not going to like this memory. I don’t think Mr. Banks wants to hear about butts.
But after the butt incident we went to Shirley’s and we had ice cream. You picked the bubble gum out of yours and put it on a napkin like an eight year old and we were all grossed out but afterwards you had a big wad of gum to chew and what did the rest of us have?
Last week we were supposed to be writing a letter to your family. I didn’t really want to do it, so I guess that’s why I used those “procrastination mechanisms.” My mom sent your mom a card with a really beautiful painting of a little cabin on the front, next to the water. It’s really peaceful looking and it reminds me of the lake. Of our lake. I think she’s really going to like it. My mom wrote something inside that I wasn’t allowed to read. Grown Up Talk Only.
This letter is getting long because I am really nervous to write to your mom, but I guess it’s time to bite the big one and get started.
Dear Mrs. Bishop: Nine was/is my best friend and I miss her so much. You were/are like my second mom. I’m supposed to share a memory of you and Nine so here goes:
When we were little and we had sleepovers Nine used to have bad nightmares. She said your house was haunted. One time I woke up and she wasn’t there and I heard this weird rumbling noise. I went out into the kitchen and she was at the counter drinking hot chocolate and you were waving a vacuum around, sucking up the ghosts. It was really nice.
i heard a noise
are u there?
AND WE’RE RUNNING RACING RUNNING the powder-man behind us but our tails flick too fast for his eye. Game, this is a game but terror spikes up my spine-like-snapped-liquid and I’m laughing little squeaks and ragged wheezes, my fellow fox. How up we’ve been stitched in this place of fur and ears and whiskers, how forgotten our selves have been, as if it’s really our bodies this dead canine’s using.
But who were you really, in the before? Before this game of borrowed skin? I forget everything; all slips from my mind as this fox-body slips from the wavering line of light drawn neatly as war on the ground. I can still taste you on my tiny-spiked tongue. I can still feel your calluses furring me all over. You I can still remember turning my knees backwards and my skin to graying red. Game. This is a game and you’re behind me, teasing my eyes around, letting me feel competitive.
The hunter draws behind him the cloak of dark.
You can run yourself gone past where the hard line of shadow chases us, but me I’ll turn, I’ll end him and win, I’ll hide behind the tree no shadow can cross, and when the man smelling like powder comes—I leap upon him, all his plaid and metal and I’m not game for this game anymore. Him I remember. He comes flashing back like a gun, he who tore you from me in that before, his ripping of your life away, all his subtle yanking of the years out from under us, some of which we ran together, most of them we didn’t or did, jaggedly.
And him I’m sinking my teeth into now, tasting the mettle of his blood and feeling the way he bucks beneath. I’ll stop him forever so you can keep on running, my love, the wind combing back your ancient gray into the red of my memory.
MY FATHER IS THE LAST CUBAN MILITANT. Raul Castro is shaking his ass to hip hop,
And my father is still wearing his black beret, and green fatigues.
The cafés are jammed with clean-shaven youths
Whose heads are gel addicts, and bodies crave
The sexy stroke of European soccer jerseys.
A blind woman wants to discuss Rembrandt and Van Gogh with him,
And he doesn’t even want to believe that the lips that gently kiss
His swollen feet under the covers is Christ pranking him.
The Americans will bomb us one day; I’ll hide in the jungle.
The Europeans will have orgies on our beaches; I’ll pretend I’m blind.
I have a limited edition Makarov PM and a Mayakovsky poem,
I’ll fight the war being advertised for the last 50 years.