Henry’s List

urban volcanos

_ Henry’s son’s coffin’s wood’s grain had little knots and imperfections in it.

_ The little knots and imperfections were lowered into the ground on a Sunday.

_ Dirt hid them forever.

_ The pastor’s fingers’ sweat stuck pages from flipping chapters and verses and a fly went by.

_ The pastor had a name and everyone else there had a name.

_ Things still needed to be bought at the store.

_ The store stored people who could keep living and who needed their receipt.

_ Henry did not need his receipt or his change.

_ There was a Bible with mustard pages.

_ It had brittle pages. Paper pages.

_ Henry wrote in the margins and added footnotes and scrapped the whole thing and started a new draft.

_ The TV had a voice that synced with the birds who owned the sky outside.

_ Henry emptied his stomach onto his bed on a different Sunday.

_ There was a numbered list.

_ Laundry detergent was seventh. New bedsheets eighth.

_ Henry collected the empty cans that rashed along the train tracks next to his house and crushed the cans with his teeth and licked the rims but didn’t drink what was inside.

_ Lip balm was ninth.

_ Henry’s son’s mother’s house had an alarm system.

_ The alarm sounded like Os being called out in a storm.

_ Henry’s son’s mother’s lover had a dog that had teeth.

_ Antibacterial was tenth.

_ Is.

_ Henry is most alive in the half-awake morning seconds before memory catches up with consciousness.

_ Henry is running and watching things.

_ One of the things is a crushed brown leaf that doesn’t belong to him or anyone else and never will.

_ Henry’s son was eleventh. Henry’s son was eleven.


Till Next Time


There’s a place for mooring on the sunset end of my block where forgiveness can be swapped for a perfect circle. Forgiveness is a schedule I, so narcs gather on block’s periphery where the postindustrial pipe overhang hides them in shadow to make their busts.

Sometimes I dive into the waterlogged places where the concrete’s gotten through and dip and bob as the deals go down, with artificial waves lapping at pavement’s edge and erosion doing its job. There’s room for a gullfamily on one of the rock rafts, and they watch with me.

Here’s how it happens. The dealer puts forgiveness on little acid slips and little acid slips put forgiveness on little tongues and little tongues put forgiveness into little mouths and little mouths put forgiveness down little throats and then the little minds take their cut.

One lady offers everything she has to a circle scalper, but they’re going for five hundo each sans inflation and she got a family to think on and he should be ashamed of hisself for runnin that shit on this block. I kick away my shoes underwater. An unseen fish eats one and saves the other for his fishfamily.

Another guy dismantles his house and offers copper wiring, flaky mortar, withered brick. He says he’ll stack it into a palatial thing for the dealer, but dealer’s not buying. His son camps out in a tent nearby with his muddied feet and seaweed hair and starts every sentence with once upon a time like his daddy taught him to do.

I saw a human being take himself to pieces and give of them for a circle for forgiveness. He diced his ankles into bite-sized cubes and garnished them with powdered kneecap. Kept saying take my patella. His body stopped homeostating around neck level and the dealer turned down the talking head.

Now there’s a line stretching onto building-flanked fire escapes, crumbling mud rooftops, neighbors that are waiting their turn in water up to their necks beside me, baptizing tattered clothes and feeding the gulls the offerings they hope will put them on the dealer’s better side.

And here are the dogs sent in in couplets and quatrains, jaws snapping on denouement and not the type to pet on doggy beaches but here now, narclight sidling in as bodies scatter past and I’m here floating, amniotic as the flotsam gathers in wisps and draws and the dealer closes up shop till next time.


How It’ll Happen

Whoever claims that childhood is a happy time, has never been a child

This is how it’ll happen. You’ll catch me peeking over some Penguin on public transit, gathering coins for the homeless who want to fly south for the winter too, and you’ll get off at the next stop. I’ll see your whispering prints erase themselves in the snow as soon as they come.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll be in my inbox, considering that ‘90s email catchphrase and implanting forgiveness into requests from the prince of Nigeria, pills for impotence. It’ll be said and you’ll never read it.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll dab mashed potatoes from your chin like you used to do from mine and hold up your bird elbow so you can touch my face. The bones that threaten your face’s skin will frighten me and you’ll put on a program. Program, not show.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll be rewinding old VHS tapes and catch the time Dad alluded to eating you out later as you watched me scutter down metal slide. It’ll be partially taped over and I’ll stay tuned for a brief word from our sponsors.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll break into the shack the neighbors kept the feral dogs in and wash up. Gather a little rabies foam and scrub it over the places where the light peeks through. I’ll see you through the cracks, but you won’t see me.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll show up with the Halloween costumes that never were and we’ll trick or treat together, decades removed. I’ll change costume after each house and you’ll egg the bastards who slashed our tires that one summer when Dad double-parked.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll be on the toilet swiping through my feed as they pull the tubes out. You’ll have glorious visions then, beautiful visions, and I’ll wonder why my internet’s so slow.

This is how it’ll happen. You’ll give me my answer right before you slip away and it’ll be a clean sweep. Presto change-o. I’ll see you through the foggy bubble world of tears and admire the pattern of the curtain the nurses have propped open because your skin could use the sun. Could’ve used.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll sit down and guzzle some rooibos, use my teeth as leaf filter and write you as I remember. You’ll hate it and maybe even me, but it’ll be there where you aren’t.

This is how it’ll happen. I’ll bend down to earth with the little boy you never met and whisper things he can understand. He’ll wonder why he can’t go home and play and I’ll go to the ground. He’ll join me, his tinyfingers tracing whispering prints that erase themselves in the dirt as soon as they come.


Alone Together

infinite jest

His alone and her alone had several vital differences.

His alone had matted hair, gnarled and tangled knots on sides where stale mattress intaglioed body-shaped initials in all the spots he’d see on bloodshot mornings when the faucet’s water was brown and sluggish and pseudopodded in his hands when he tried to make a cup. His alone laughed too loud at stories on the bus and traced profiles to collate and scan genetic material against known ancestry. His alone talked to the descendants of kings and prophets relegated to stooped bus shelters with overhang too low and fickle sunlight sliced open by 747s. His alone input data to watch blank, expectant white slide to green as voices tintinnabulated and grew calm as the day gathered age. His alone could be counted penny for penny at fortnight’s end and hummed in the quiet spaces he left for himself. His alone had sophisticated charm and allegorical weight; it liked to chew through the garbage can every time he took it out.

Her alone was different.

Her alone kept a four by four by four subterranean circadian rhythm with nightwatch to gather drops in the pots she kept outside. Her alone had all the markings of prolonged captivity and none of the benefits. Her alone contained jaundiced dabs and gamboge heat playing on palimpsested canvas where the figures once were. Her alone had a quiet dignity she’d picked up from racial memory transmuted through pretty little tasks she set for herself: dappling leaf edges with pot contents and reloading seed. Her alone was as virtuosic as it was myopic and she wasn’t about to get it corrected: a wheelchair for the eyes. Her alone donated plates with roses on them and counted tile chips on floors microscopic in stores whose names always ended in apostrophe S. Her alone gathered antebellum stories and ripped them to confetti for festive traditions just begun in place of waiting for a one who might never come.

Their alone was different.

Their alone was parched to cracking and sustained with clever shared sips at terminal hours croaked “…in the morning.” Their alone stole all the blankets and wrapped imaginary infants up in swaddling clothes. Their alone felt the bone underneath, neat and trim little rivets set on fault lines whose time was up and whose place was in the swollen belly with rotundity past seeing and feathered touches laying eczema trails. Their alone was a Nemo it’s a Nemo mommy in silver dollar waiting rooms with shirt tugs and defective physiognomy laid out neatly on clipboard ticks. Their alone was the cry past sound on muffled shoulder and the balloon tummy letting out its air. Their alone was sacrificing sleep for gathering seed at night with the light haloing and motors Dopplering past–silly little umwelts moseying on down. Their alone was fingers grazing past in all that dark, laying new seed to ground and pressing earth down pat.

Just like that.