I never liked Seattle.
Too many of the homeless
looked like my father.
In Southern California,
there are seventeen faces
shared by everyone
and I couldn’t tell them apart.
Albuquerque and Gallup
filled up my rearview
with insistent new ghosts
who claimed they were relations.
Austin and Dallas
made me lonely
for those I’d never known
and I knew I’d find them
if I stayed too long.
Kansas City has a bad neighborhood
or two or three, they told me at the hotel.
They all felt bad to me.
Chicago laid itself at my feet
and then swept my leg.
I left my bags on an El platform
in December, in rain,
and never went back to get them.
I was robbed in New York City,
by New York City, of all I had left,
so I went home.
Then I was home,
one haunted room full of avalanche drums
and a slim face pinched in the closet door.
I couldn’t wait to go again.
I know my tribe
is waiting for me in bus stations
and airport bars.
We don’t talk much
and we like it just fine that way.
A nod and a flick of the eyelid
is enough to make a stool or a bench
which is where we are
when only we are there.
I’m taking the best bite out of your life,
screams the dirty little tooth.
The myth that either the heart or brain
is paramount keeps the tooth amused
with its throne hidden in plain sight. The tooth
kings itself on your nerve endings
and leaps into the red square. You fall
wincing into the black. I’m taking a bite
out of your life, screams the sharp little tooth
as it sticks you a second time. The old story:
you’d give up a small fortune for relief
from that broken bastard. It’s no game
to go a-hopping in pain around the board
in thrall to the little king. I’m a bite
of your living, screams the shard of a tooth
one last time before you yank and toss it.
It leaves a raw hole. Game over? But you can’t keep
your tongue out of the space.
I still rule you, calls the missing tooth
A claustrophobic trace
in her couture of the day
A fear of walls closing
upon her body
Curtains of cloth
flow and melt
across her thighs
There’s enough room to move
She looks good this way
Not afraid at all of constriction
Her face a door
her eyes keyholes
on two locks
The prairie wind within
coming down from the far mountains
whistles through them
My shirt suddenly too tight
My hair in my own face
I want to run
and not stop until she says I may