I’ll burn the work. It’s just no good. “It creeps
me out to hear you talk like this”: your life
is drinking. I am deep in toxins. Sleep’s
a promontory gleaming, moon-steeled knife
to slice the seared but bloody muscle of
a dream. The smoke cleaves like a helmet, like
a halo. Tomb and womb. Aroma? Love
and loss, as usual. My muse won’t pysch
me out this time. The weak, the bad—I’ll cut.
And then the luck. Hemp strands of muddled lit.
I’ll braid it like a rope to hang us all.
The buzz? It’s ditch-weed bad. Time was, my gut
preached patience. Now, it screams, “What is this shit?!”
The dawn breaks chill and raw. Like spring. Or fall.
“Male secrecy and women’s need to know:
Remember Bluebeard.” So you say. I see
at least three meanings there. Who cares? Spring snow
and bitter blossoms. Burn that journal, free
the energy. Like masturbation? Worse.
In front of me, a half-full pint of stout,
and Monk is on the stereo, his curse
like mine, but darker, deeper. Primed, he’ll shout
his demons down, let Coltrane raise them up
again. Past lives come spooling out, from dung
beetle to Cleopatra. If I cup
a breast, I might remember verses sung
on burnished barges, drunk enough on life
to hail my exiled muse, make her my wife.
You rub the window clear, scratch your balls.
Coffee’s on. The sky can’t get off
Maybe you’ve made a baby: one star swimmer
is all it takes.
Where’s the ibuprofen?
Where’s the calamine? Where’s that gal
Asleep. Or lolling. Your bourgeois ease.
Your imported cheese.
Your newly manifested
wheeze. If you don’t try to help others, maybe
you will die.
Gauze blocks your thoughts. Painful,
all that thinking. High-school humping, that’s
Crass new term: fuck buddy. You heard
your old friend John has one. Beautiful wife
left him. There’s another term: comfort
women. Bad history there, before your time.
You hear the water running, go back upstairs.
She’s in the shower. You grab your razor. Pause.
The mirror’s fogged.
The harvest moon, my dear, is God’s ass when
we’re coming down from high or buzz with three-
day stubble. Call it love. Reactors’ glow:
your breasts. And I’m a toxic spill. But will
it last? You used to tell me I was closed,
my poetry was constipated: dry-
turd verse. I’ve tried so hard to loosen up,
bolts moaning, hinges whinging. Yes, it’s just
a vision that we’re whole. You’ve got a hole:
thank God for that. Let’s get back in the car
and gobble up more miles. “Play anything
but Dylan . . . . I was joking.” So you say.
We’re crossing borders that the money’s made:
past truck stops, peep shows, toll gates, cop blockades.
Our ever-reimagined love-song, “Life
Is Just a Slow Slow Death,” still radiates
above the interstate, breaks over us in waves.
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in Dime Show Review, The Drunken Llama, and Sick Lit. Tom's website: http://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/