The Heartbeat Station
Brother, my softness is
no different from yours
before you lost it to manhood.
I have your face in a fairer shade
—strongest of the ties between us.
Blood flow constricted for years, then
the elastic snapped. Or it went slack.
No one wants his words for dinner
so it’s implied that we take it all back.
I assume you are sorry. You assume
I forgive you. It works out. We do
all the nothing to be done. I remember
riding in your Peugeot on the express
when you used to drop me off at school
on your way to work. You were trying
to fill a father’s shoes, but you were
so young, and I, even younger.
The air between us was more dense then,
the quiet stranger, shatter-prone.
Trailers in your rearview, looming,
then zooming past my window.
You would ask again if my seat belt
was fastened. I felt firmly bound
to the misery of a life. The radio
presenter always broke our silence,
dousing those early mornings
with the foul sameness of news.
And then, to soothe us, he’d play
a pop song, one you didn’t recognise
but, just as you imagined, I did.
Poem with no Sense of Humor
While I am thrown off a wild bull
you are in Disneyland
with your Freddie Mercury moustache.
I am being trampled by hooves and you
are talking about plastic ears
the silliness of them.
Always agreeable as blood on teeth,
I take the time to laugh with you.
Where’s the joke in my pain?
I think of agony, and then
of irony. Interchanging
senses for the sake of small talk.
The body demanding ever less
of the sympathy it needs, the way
my insomnia peaks after consecutive
days of stunted sleep—how now
I glean dreams from domestic life,
scrubbing the Whirlpool oven, the kitchen
sink, a keg of bleach in one hand,
ache in the alternate shoulder.
I learn to keep my soreness to myself, closer
than an enemy. Oh, but I hate to hate!
Well, then, what’s the source of this?
You, Freddie—paying no mind to my news,
never hearing me wail. No,
you found it so funny when I said
I was dying, seeing a new side to the sky.
But I was up on a hill at that moment,
howling at an absent moon, and
I fell, Freddie, off the fucking ladder.