In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
THE QUIET WORLD
The Badger is the thirteenth astrological sign.
My sign. The one the other signs evicted: unanimously.
So what? ! Think I want to read about my future
in the newspaper next to the comics?
My third grade teacher told me I had no future.
I run through snow and turn around
just to make sure I’ve got a past.
My life’s a chandelier dropped from an airplane.
I graduated first in my class from alibi school.
There ought to be a healthy family cage at the zoo,
or an open field, where I can lose my mother
as many times as I need.
When I get bored, I call the cops, tell them
there’s a pervert peeking in my window!
then I slip on a flimsy nightgown, go outside,
press my face against the glass and wait…
This makes me proud to be an American
where drunk drivers ought to wear necklaces
made from the spines of children they’ve run over.
I remember my face being invented
through a windshield.
All the wounds stitched with horsehair
So the scars galloped across my forehead.
I remember the hymns cherubs sang
in my bloodstream. The way even my shadow ached
when the chubby infants stopped.
I remember wishing I could be boiled like water
and made pure again. Desire
so real it could be outlined in chalk.
My eyes were the color of palm trees
in a hurricane. I’d wake up
and my id would start the day without me.
Somewhere a junkie fixes the hole in his arm
and a racing car zips around my halo.
A good God is hard to find.
Each morning I look in the mirror
and say promise me something
don’t do the things I’ve done.