letter from Jonah

I found a shark tooth
and a yearbook
there were fish bones
and some flamingos that they put out in people’s yards

there was a pencil
it was chewed on
I thought about Samson
and tried to pull the fish apart it was useless
I found a boat flare
I waited for the right time
the right time kept from me
I wanted neighbors
I wanted a surf board
I got a dirty magazine
it became boring
the twelfth time around
I wanted television
I got a walkie-talkie
who was obviously
at me                                                                    

on our backs

in our winter clothes
counting the windows
of my father’s house

you ask about the people
who live there now
I say the man, he’s old
the woman, she’s crazy
they’re doing their best to live up to the portraits
crucified to the drywall
the light that bounces off the manicured grass
is light, enough
that the scene could be Rockwellian
could be pornography

I rolodex though the pals who would have now
betrayed me since high school
run their names through a filter of new math
of those that died dumbly,
and those who have since found Jesus Christ and
the equation is even
I don’t even tip the scales
half of me is dead
the other half of me belongs to Jesus

familiar family cars roll up the driveway
with parents
scolding their christened kids
in their holiday sneers
and fiercely parted hair
furious in their accuracies
we are whiskey drunk
and flinch
when the headlights ransack us
the dragnets of their voices
beckon us in
a brother, maybe
hands me a package
with a smirk

I whisper in my wife’s ear that I am somewhere else
up in coney island
there is a painted woman
airbrushing the first coat on a parade float
I am a merman
King Neptune
tossing beads into the sea
skipping bottle tops from the Wonder Wheel
down to the pavement below

last week
a baby boy
we both knew
fell asleep in his crib
and never woke up
and the lines
on our faces
prove we’ve been playing dress-up
with our own daughter
in his tiny sneakers
we’ve been choking down conversations
faking whole holidays
bluffing our hands
you ask
will this year end
you asked that twelve months ago

I pull out the classifieds
in my father’s town
and look up the prices to used motorcycles

negligible creed

the soil is not soft
in my time
I want to create something ugly and something beautiful
and show them to you
and say

is something beautiful

is something ugly

I made them.

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