Mink Teddy Bear

to exist beyond
the worst
having happened

is not the end
of fear
but a full lap

the kids will
often
bring me things

one brings a mermaid
I take its
temperature

one brings
a transformer
it lights up

another brings
a bear that is so soft
it feels alive

maybe it is alive
we’ll keep
its secret

it hides
in the child’s
arms

slips
behind
the voice

around the breath
beneath
the door

mutating, undulate
along
the air

evading
its end
by

pretending
it’s
not real

When You Travel by Balloon

I worry you will learn something
that takes you away
a balloon you forget
to let go of
or choose not to

I will grab a balloon
and follow, though
in the sky
the wind swirls
without channel

no bones to block it
no blood
maybe they will put
all the reds together
maybe it has to do with the air

it is exhausting trying to plan
my plans, I fear, are me
choice animating thought
a quarter machine
who grabbed me? do I have control

over where I am? is
control like a thought
should I let it go? is it the same?
I swim through the air
in my best clothing

careful to match the color of sky
but it’s different when you’re in it
it’s obvious
it ruins it

don’t go
don’t look at me
don’t go

Domain

if you put a carcass
on the roof, the rats
will get it before
the birds

I do my coughing
on the roof
you do your
proving

you impress the doctor
with a bouquet
I ask stupid questions
that I hope

sound like love
then we go get ice cream
you choose something brilliant
I get chocolate

people celebrate
having finished the maze
never mind
getting out

we’ll start
a new life in it
we’ll get some ice cream
after negative tests

then drive up and down
the one road
covered
in string lights

revving our lack
of ideas
like the start of a new
world until boom

it appears, and
we’re here, this tiny world
with not enough space to
space out

as they float on bars
sit on each other
sink the land
into the sea

Worm-Like

once I let the machines
repair my body
they power washed my stomach
drilled relief
into my tail
one guy spent the entire time
in my jaw, just scraping
they must have missed some
anxiety, I guess – what I
described to my parents as
a knife above my chest
not stabbing, just hovering there
I’ve got it down to my tummy
I’m trying to push it out
I’ve ejected my appendix
anxiety – what I describe now
as a strange fungus
aboard a ship
oh to cut it loose
watch it drift into the cold
never to return
never to wonder if you love me
to devalue your love so
never to make things wrong
because it’s easier
because I know these things by
prescription, or strand
because I blame them
or make them disappear to
appear changed
it’s still here
it’s in the room with us now
one day I will loose my hair
my eyesight
my home planet
one day there will be a voice
the one who keeps anxiety
at all costs
from reaching my hands
the poles
dowels in every pore
tie the rope you tie
around my wrists
nothing can escape when we go

to my Brother’s Spirit

at first, my courage
was naive
it couldn’t have imagined
so it led with that

now my courage
feels old
no longer looking
no longing for something to happen

like Mom said – I knew
there was something
interesting about us
and I felt it

now I couldn’t care less
I want to live
as long as we can
in case we were wrong

Playing Dead

for a possum to play dead effectively
it can’t look too good
evolutionary priority is given
to the ugly – the mottled fur
the hairless face like carrion
the chitinous tail, the smell

if a possum chooses another
she will do so for its longevity
its eligibility based on ugliness
therefore beauty
the young are carried on the stomach

tight against fat hanging
towards the ground, dragging
through ticks and the litter
disgusting, undesirable
reliable

no one comes for the possum
not the hungry, nor the thirsty
the possum does not pretend
to be alive – it is therefore safe
it is ready to drop dead
at any moment

a long, upturned smile
the secret – to live precisely
when you must

Nebulizer

my breath comes running up, alarmed
holding bags

my breath is sinched at the waist
my breath

is afraid to put it all the way in
my breath is unsure of the door

it rolls up a towel to
block the light

it knows footprints by weight
my breath escapes through

the window, and though it lives in me
it looks like a robber

feels like a robber, like
it has something of mine in its pockets

in this way my breath cares about
what others think

other’s thoughts hurt. other’s
thoughts can be controlled

my breath controls them
oxygen – a bundle of stones in the arms

of my breathing, a breathy voice, a
circulatory mind

my breathing is pot without
a drain hole

my breathing is root rot
my breath continues, though I

miss a few here and there
they fly over my head or

over my shoulder. it is a joke, or
salt, my breath, which today

feels like someone else’s. it is not enough
or maybe, it is too much my own

Summer 2020

I feel strongly that
I haven’t done enough

is that today?
always?

humanity beats down
without context

the sun is so hot
it is winter, effectively

a stay-at-home order
a vivid and continunous

temperature
contemptuous integers

I could go back and forth
but I’ve let the dog run

I’ve taken off my shirt
in the early hours

survived a little longer
which is enough

though I know it isn’t
we’ve survived long enough

to know that it isn’t, or
survived past it, or

consumed it
in an act of survival

what a strange threat this is
when those threatened

need more than just their lives
when the monster eats

frivolity, and I reek of it
when our spirits

sneak out at night to touch
our bodies too hot to hold

Fear of Dying

I beg the stars to move –
that is, to have died already
I’m still uncertain of their distance
now more than ever

what would happen if I ate one?
would it kill me? if I sleep
facing the sky, will it breathe me?
if I get bit, will I die?

I am unsure about so much
what does a virus want?
which is the universe
and which is the galaxy?

is it cicadas? or static on
spirit headlamps? or
Denis Johnson’s feverish
kazoo music?

could be just a bug
am I doing the right thing?
where do I place
the needs that could kill me?

Nietzsche’s Sister’s Cat

I wonder if the dog, while
holding its mouth open for the cat
ever has thoughts of crushing it
flash images

like a photo continues
outside its frame, does the dog
see itself continue?
does the cat suspect?

suspect is a strong word
surely the dog is not to blame for
seeing. is seeing thinking?
neither one is doing

until it is done. so the cat is cautious
the dog inviting – its neck
thicker than its head
the skull in plates

built for this relief – sure
the cat will trust the dog one day
only after
it has never happened