skinny atlas

i dare not speak on
lake skaneateles
the silence
is for me

and the clean water
and
the birds chirping
are for me

i don’t want to
think about
the muscle men
of wichita

or the land lords
or the
hit-men

but i do make noise
and i do think of them

and i vomit and
vomit bile
the entire time

all over the
eagle’s nest

muddying the
blue water

all over ed and marie’s
pretty little cabin

as i become the soul of skinny atlas himself

straightening my spine
and readying
to shoulder this
globe forevermore

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NIAGARA

for those who toil
and think to build
onward, to the foot of niagara
where one shouldn’t go (but wants to)
a billion pounds of water crushing down
be it for the sharing of ideas
and these planks of wood
i am baptized by the gods of america
uncertain and raw, in my natural
state

fever dream-girl (or: the queasy disgusted stomach of a lost man reading letters from former lovers in a box of regrets)

i kept those letters you wrote to me
for twelve years in order to
read them today
when i finally cared to wonder
what you had to say
and i’m not sure why

i try not to cry as i hold
love letters written from my
fever dream-girl as i begin
to wake and wipe my eyes to
realize that you were real
all along

i bury disgust in my queasy stomach
my selfish, selfish queasy stomach
that i was born with such hunger
for the tender loving words
of a girl of maybe fifteen

i devoured you in waking dreams
but you were as real as me
and wrote love letters that shake
now in the hands of a man
and i’m not sure why

it is not enough, i know
there are lessons to learn, i know
in between the lines
of the young girls
who once loved me
and i will learn them

1 of 1 million

oh thank god for the twenty four seven
when you’re gone i can’t live with myself
the sunflowers i can’t even see on the horizon
i bet they’re not fucking real anyway

oh, renee

gonna write you a million lines just to
fill up the dead spaces i
didn’t even realize they were there
like a little boy left in the car

oh, renee

take me way o’er the rolling hills
i keep my heart beating for you

on a riverside in wichita

my fireworks travel across your nerves twixt your freckles like the constellations

our feet are in the reflection of the sky and dance cross the surface of the ar-kansas river

let’s get married. can we get married? i want to get married; to you.

modern man breathing

you are a stretched out stock image in a powerpoint slide
your gait is the struggling of a worm on drying concrete
your breath is the rot of fish clogging a dam
your voice is a diesel engine whirring through the night
your smile is two particles colliding in the vacuum of space
your mind is made of ice yet dreams of being iron
your heart is the laws of the universe, unreasonable and pointless

growing a neurotic plant

i am a stupid fucking farmer

who will not check for toxic soil

or find a place with the right light and rain

to grow in

upright and happy

but just stare at and

scream directly into the sun
“what you will, will be!”

so that the plants grow crooked

and neurotic.

i dream that the morbid fields

come alive at once

grow vividly wicked

tangle me and choke me out

and let things go back

but even the most crooked stalks

don’t know that it might be

worse for them that way;

it is worse for them anyway

it is worse

is random?

o, god of numbers
and infinite variables
why have you forsaken us?

are we not your children
that live together
in this lonesome hatred?

with all your many arms
you do not cradle
but hold us down

we add and subtract raindrops
and guess at how long they fell
in the meantime

forgive me, the crooked and wingless
and small and unheard
that i am the poorest of your numbers
and i do not overstand

a hand with a thumb

you make them clap or they will eat you

the white ones found on monkey island

i’ve no memory of being thrown overboard

but being washed ashore here

hear the incessant clapping and loud snores

make joke

get food

reach for banana

get scrap

i could kill all of them or none

and nothing would assuage my loneliness

pick your teeth with my sun-bleached bones.

it’s a beautiful friday afternoon

you would love today

and this song i just heard

oh, you’d never believe

the cubicle i live in

is it selfish or profound
for the unfairness to weigh on me?

that i can only share things
with a bastardized memory
of you?

oh my god,

the agony of

being excluded from

every day,

going forward (outside of my mind)

for you

are dead

i beg that it would save
a single tear

in the lonely moments before
you left

for you to know that
your friends will cry

during minutes that
you won’t see.

it has poisoned its own roots

what infertile soil
could grow such twisted shocks?

and with such plain days as
this to grow!

i too grow, but confused
as i sit and think

it has poisoned its
own roots!

like an invasive weed
on a new island

tarry i, still
among the pathways

yet ingrained
in my fibers

i’d not tend to these abominations
by choice!

they say nothing
but a dead star

lies
round the horizon

they are wrong
though

cuz i can see
it shining

restlessness (and please don’t let go)

i eat even when i’m not hungry
and i want you to suffer

you’ll kill yourself if
you don’t change
but you’re always changing
and you’ll always die

the balance will always be
as constant as passing energy
off onto everything you touch
and oh what you’ll do with
all of your power

enough to notice
not enough to care

let your mind trip you up
the path is just a wheel
anyway
and you’ll try and love,
love
the rush of drugs swirling round
your bones

but i’m always hungry
there could always be more

all these sharp cubes are boring
let’s go back to the
sphere

your unlucky heart

while standing in
the shade a strong
hand took you

and although

i would share
a million sunlit
hours with you

at that moment

i was so weak
i could not even
look your way

i ran

and i ran
and felt remorseful
but never did i cry

which is just what weak men do

standing in the doorway
with the light bouncing
off kitchen linoleum

i lock eyes with Lal
it’s an eerily quiet
afternoon in wichita

i turn as i smell
a hint of freedom
in the air

i spend a moment with
what is left of you
inside me

it’s an awkward moment
because i am ashamed
and i finally cry

for you

rainbow swimming badges

rainbow swimming badges
and sunlit freckles

passionate glances
during reveille

tiny pebbles skip across
a glacial lake
in backwoods michigan

(won’t you keep me,
broken memory?)

the sun never sets just
the same
as on a kayak race
to an island
that you never seem to reach

take on heat and
pay in sweat

long for the cold so
you can help build
another cabin

learn of kindling
and the fire

(you can only do this once
you are going to fuck this up)

shrug it off
take it hard

watch butterfly
migrations.

devilry

i dreamed i was an ohian farmer
thinkin affront a mechanical breeze
my taut muscles and hard callouses
rotting within my hands and shoulders
and gasping for air like old flames

i sat atop a great machine
like a giant chugging black tar
emitting a putrid smell and noise
among otherwise silent fields
from each coast, a million giants wide

we each had taken plots of land
and bought guns, and put up walls
flattened hills and forests
squeezed the dirt while crying and praying
it was a crime of passion

and i was paid a healthy salary
it was insured against poor production
to grown corn, and nothing more
we let a lot go sour in the silos
but the government man never cared
long as our ballots fell to him each year

my son died from pancreatic cancer
he had worked the land every day since
he was strong enough to lift a till
and as good as any man
at pulling richness from the soil

i was told it was two years
since a sickness had changed his basic chemistry
and i thought on how the devil convinced men
that it was will power that kept them alive
but i saw the red ink ledger lines at the end

and all debts will be reined in

lift off

the shower’s a warm blanket
but the cold lives in my spine
if only i could see
then i wouldn’t be so blind

tell me i’m not fine
tell me not to cry

the president’s a virus
and my family is the host
they pull all of their pants down
to get lashed by the holy ghost

castigate my mind
tell me that i lie

my father is a rapist
and my mother cries all day
the sun dances in the window
but has nothing much to say

i’m starting to unwind
i’ve nothing but the time

let up
lift off

weeping at the visage of our glorious leader

be wary those that are born
into this prison
and straighten your spine
and look forward
for all eyes belong
to the great gods of hell
who filled walls
with your dead brethren
and covered them in
the faces of their family

eat love and pray
under their holiness, I say
although
it may pick at your soul
to do so
the sun will shine on
endlessly
but men can
block your view.

estelle

a summer dream
we speak of love
in birdsong

do not poison
the air with your
“sentences”

do not focus your
“attention”

i would work a lifetime
for 5 minutes more

with her