The dark grass of a river pool
was hiding eels drawn off to the back eddies I’d lean over
and watch my brother watch for them with a net he held.
I wanted it.
I wanted the long wooden handle of that net
to clasp my fingers around the same way
my older brother plotted to set a single eel
softly against my sleeping eye that night.
What’s a dream? Any ocean, perhaps. Some tendrils
awake in the slumber
to jig my own afternoon’s dull ghosts into
a weigh station turned child’s odium.
Dream rider. Phantom toucher. A bluegill
shitting in the drifts.
The branchy shadows of kids bouncing for
trouble’s cover. A moon’s rising almost wet
as gravity up over the edge of a woods not quite
before the sun wanted down off a ledge of cloud.
What’s anger but losing out to a bit of fear
at the bottom of the tumbler’s syrupy ice?
Ok, so what’s anger tonight—unrooted, loose
as sandy wind on the avenue with my
dog and a Maglite and no owls, under Cassiopeia out over it all?
Hardy har all. I should go ahead and call it as it were:
a decent shred of whatever we’ve marked down
as accessible in the ledger of so-called knowns.
Even that last word there sounding like something a ghost
wants to whisper through the gate at us.
And anyhow, I’m with you in the blood of an orgasm’s
truant thudding. The brain fluid reeling
behind the socket holes of each flooded eye.
And the mind clods off into the sedge grass
I already mistook for those eels in my brother’s borrowed net.
Borrowed? Yeah right. Try stolen.
As it happened, he’d splay out the catch in the gravel
you know what I mean? He was probably eight years old
jabbing at the pebble-sized black river bugs in the tangle
we’d throw cartoon voices at.
I mean, I’m pissed that you probably could’ve gotten
a book out of Bessie Smith’s nation sack alone
or plain trash
or the children that live with their strays to scavenge dumpsters at Wal-Mart.
We had possums living under the floorboards
of the military barracks house in Boulevard.
Then I remember that you and Forrest wrote to us in Athens
when Vic Chestnutt died.
And I carried that thought to the silly little hummingbird
who likes to the hang out in the branches of the dead
orange tree in my yard that I refuse to chop down.
It would seem that memory’s hungover couriers are
doing a number on me today. So, instead of memory, I pawn them
for life—trade out for sirens on Speedway to your
long funny coat at the reading in Tucson and back to Athens, Georgia
for Vic’s weird howl from his wheelchair into the four track.
Same face I’d find in the mirror when I stood up from a nap.
My sweaty t-shirt hanging around my neck like I’d fallen down
just getting myself dressed.
The eyelid’s watery twitch from the hold of another
dead friend in the garage of the late dreamer’s mind.
That afternoon was like any other basically, whereof
I’d wiped ejaculate off my belly with a pillowcase. So
don’t let anybody say I didn’t live either.
And my head pulsed with its afterglow like a blue flame
deep inside the furnace room.
So what do I know in the copy room with Farid?
That love isn’t enough except that it pretty much has to be even though it can’t?
I can almost hear you go, Can’t what?
Bring us back entire
from the blunting of sleep?
And then Jane told me you slid a dream into death after supper. And now?
Now the moon’s shut off. The ivy’s rotted on the snowy bricks
back in Chicago probably.
That was a good long short while ago, I suppose.
And I suppose, too, that my next thought’s just as dumb—
shaped into the form of something like,
Come on. Can’t you stay awake a little while longer?