The Pickle Shelves

this bomb shelter is packed with corpses, jars
of heads line the walls as if waiting
to be used as some sort of accompaniment
to mutant fresh vegetables picked from radioactive soil
in some post-apocalyptic orgy to celebrate
an anniversary of the end of it all.
white eyes stare calmly

out through the glass, watching nothing, dreaming
of nothing, just waiting for the day when the metal lids
will be uncorked, the contents of the jars overturned onto
gigantic platters held by grubby hands
for the salted flesh to be poked at with tarnished fork tines
for inevitable consumption. until then

the heads will sit on these shelves, undisturbed
wrinkled skin filling out, growing smooth in the brine
swelling to fit the confines of their jars
like old sponges left in the sink for too long.

Scales and Cataracts

I have spent too many days offended by my eyes
they do, they do offend me. The morning sun is the beginning of my offensive day
the voyage outside into the world where I am even more
offended and peeved. I have thought long and hard about what
needs to be done to deal with the daily visions of daily reality
and I keep coming back to the Bible, and I don’t like thinking about the Bible.

Too much of my day is spent watching parts of my body doing
offensive things, boring things, tedious things. Useless things.
Would it be more proper to blind myself to these things or just stop doing them?
Would it make more sense to keep my eyes and remove instead

the fingers that spend too much time typing tedium at work
the feet that carry me nowhere important
the body that insists on falling further into disrepair? Where in the Bible
does it say I should remove my toes so that the pain makes me consider
whether where I’m walking to is worth the agony
where does it say I should remove the tips of my fingers
so that every word I type seems that much more important, every word scrawled
on a loose napkin seems like that much more an idea worth capturing

Why does it always have to come back to my eyes?

Conversations Deferred

I tell myself that he won’t be able to find me in China
and so I sign up for language classes, learn all about tea
watch goofy romantic movies about Chinese girls and ghosts
wear long skirts to hide my enormous feet. I tell myself

that things will be better when I’m in China, that somewhere
in those cloud-topped mountains I see pictured
in cheap Chinese fans and calligraphy scrolls, I will find some cave
where I can hunker down, like a monk, and no one
will know I’m there, not even him.

I Search the Mirror for Tragedy

flesh moves toward you as if summoned, and here, far from
fairy tale castles and big screen love
I am waiting by the telephone, in the dark—
one last pastel-colored cocktail and she is yours

she will be. she glides through the walls of
thinking, lying here, rotting from hollow places
I am begging for just one last bite from you for
ever, or just tonight, whatever you decide my role will be
in the days before I become a rotting corpse
plow me under.

waiting by the telephone, in the dark, in
far away, I know exactly what you are
in our bed, I am always waiting for you
you’ve finally caught her, across the room, promises
I am in our bed, always waiting for you.


I watched you sleep for nearly five minutes
stood just inside your room for nearly five minutes
before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
and slipped out the door, defying
detection. your bare back

was open to anyone and everyone coming in, bareback
riders slip in through the cracks of hotel security all the time, defying
even little girl sanctity. yesterday, I dreamt of your death
the big sister duties I’d imposed upon myself stuck in
my head, driving me crazy.