Our summers were spent in the New South, autumn in
the biosphere, winter in a woodstove sand sullying
the hologram, blessing via a twenty-nine cent stamp.
Bleeding through my beloved stocking cap. At the camp
they hired a bloodhound to find my brother but because
the days were cartoons then their sleuth walked on his
back legs, wore a long raincoat and barked with a Bronx pull.
But he was aloof and rarely spoke at all, it was like dealing
with a real dog, responding as he did only to food and booze,
unable to clean the gunk from his own eyes. It’s not as if he was
crying. I’m fearful of what he thought of me when I was
laughing. Sworn statement, ink pad. Maybe he’s never lost
a brother like mine. The pop machine in the lobby ate my second-
to-last, and last, dollar bills, that’s what started me crying. My lessons
almost never get learned. Some people pass out from lack
of sugar, some too much. Some heroin withdrawal, some smacked
in the head with a police stick. Someone’s mother held my head
in her palm and dabbed my brow with the damp strands of a mop
and who could have planned that? My keys a trembling kitten under
the Coke machine, the red glow a falling all over my coat, all over
everyone’s coat. I have many hopes. Urgent: open at once.
One of them is thinking of becoming a nurse in the Third World.
One of them is sinking in the graveyard near my first wife’s house.
Nobody new’s gone down since 1920, it’s like people have renounced
death there, they’re done with that shit. All they do now is start
up cover bands, tracing the outline of each other’s hearts
with fat, innocent fingers, invisible aortas on every thinned white t-shirt.
You’ll find them fishing off the pier using nostalgic cane poles
just as the sun, in sinking low, shines forth its silvery cold
notes. I have many coats and everyone loves to wear them.
Joey can have his dreams, I’ll hound the defiled hem
of the deep. What do you need to sleep? I barely believe
in God but Kathy and I have begun to pray for what you need.
“New York just isn’t your town,” the cop whispered with his hand,
but when I see the picture of my brother standing on the hood
of his derby car I realize it’s worth it. We look at it together,
we hold it under our faces so we can drop tears all over
his face and hold him real close and have feelings we never knew
existed. Could you sign right here, Sir? Blink if you can hear me,
Sir. But I never did mind the dying, it was the funeral home I couldn’t stand.