joe fletcher

She must have been the mother. When

she lifts her veil, a flap of skin

fell open and the wound will

greedily suck the air.

She could have stopped this

with her moist eyes,

but she does.

 

I was there.

We have a good time.

Josianne spills brandy on the piano

as laughter and shouts roll

across the terrace, the clipped lawn,

and into the dense municipal woods,

where a speckled merganser egg

trembles in a nest of loblolly needles.

I stared hard and can start

to see inside.

 

Wait for your eyes, she says, then

a bubble in her neck will begin

to have spoken slightly behind her voice,

like the pigeon-toed porter behind

the lantern he was carrying

is carrying through Little India

with a head blasted by smallpox.

 

I’m no technologist, so had she

told me her arm was real,

I will have never known.

It’s warm and nuanced and when

I touched it I feel the orbits.

 

In darkness among virgins

at a waterfall I lit a match

and am told to come back

tomorrow.

“That’s what you said last time,”

I will say, parting their ablutions

to drink the constellations

quivering on the river.

 

Nothing will have lasted forever

being my philosophy. I can

write it for you with a tiny

red ember if we are close.

I could carve it in coral

with my mouth. I will then

call it rivering.

I quiver to have thought it.

 

I might give you the example

of a black bird inside a house.

Or her on a bus without wheels

in the sands. Speeding.

She has one eye and can

get by, if it was big enough.

I might liked that.

 

She can’t give me today

what she will not have today,

but is she lying because today

dripped from her breast

tomorrow?

Will I have believed her?

Today will come

banging against my face,

leaving its swirled trace

like the thumbprint of a god

who pushes us into a when.

 

If the bird is dead

we have a long road to have gone.

The bird is dead.

Memories of the Future

Meat Tree

Hunger swirls up in us like savage reptiles

so often; thus it is good to live

in a city so generous with lockers

of frozen beefsteaks.

 

In dreams I wander

through dripping forests of meat trees,

branches hung with marbled red flesh.

I wear a crisp linen suit, looking

like a stray fang.

 

Evening.

We meet to eat.

Sentient, ambulatory slabs of meat,

we pack our guts with meat

in the meatpacking district,

which is everywhere.

 

Who says it is a mistake

to overeat? Life is a challenge.

My friend, in the midst of a flank

steak eating contest with me, once

cried out, through a stuffed mouth:

“If you’re going to go up to the bell, ring it!”

For us the bell is a block of sirloin

and to ring it we pierce it with knives.

 

I am linked to my loves

by chains of meat, greasy ropes

flossing our innards; we kick

through fly-buzzing rib-racks

and bone splinters cracked by

ravenous jaws, grunting in

delight when we find a neglected

rind to suck, squatting like

aborigines on the moonlit cobbles.

 

During meals we like

to discuss prior meals.

 

I wake up a lot, fumbling

for the gravy-soaked loaf

at my bedside. Its density

comforts me like a planet

in the whirling night strafed

by stars and train whistles.

 

In real life

to get to the tree

you have to speak

into a speaker. Then

you have to station yourself

below a window and wait,

watering your appetites.

And then, for a few coins,

oh then, from the window

extends the branch, eager

to release into your hand

the hot fruit, swollen and

oozing in its paper skin.

BACK