Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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White Dwarves
     for Chris

I want to believe the Aztecs,
that once you eat the heart of a dragon
you can understand animal language.
I want to believe that Andromeda M31
is just a mirage, like love.       
Today someone has been crying
in the house across the street. Someone
is masturbating just up the road
right now. They sound the same

to me. We aren’t that different from the cicadas
or the Century Plant; all we do is die. The sounds
we push out into the universe take their time to arrive.
Just yesterday the radio waves we’ve been shooting
out into space since the ’50s reached the corner
of our galaxy. Somewhere a boy has just reached puberty,  
his bones mimicking the slow stretch of the universe.
When he speaks in his sleep tonight he won’t notice
the small crackling in his voice. A new word is born.
An idea grows old. Time slips its hands in our pockets
and laughs. It happens again: I started by writing

the story ends with your brother Matt
peeling the tabby from the pavement
            the skull crushed
            the spots on its stomach
little constellations

a name

The body

he places it on the sidewalk

can’t look at his date

She says
            I think that’s my cat
            I think that’s my cat
and knows

Then the lightning. Then, the long drive home
where you pass the remains of a car with its passengers
burned to death inside. The year of sleeplessness,
night terrors and waking to women you don’t love,
your ex still possessing your bones. This is an apology.  
Because in Thailand a monk gathers boys
from the sex trade and sells them to miserable
bastards here in the West. Because Kamajors behead RUF soldiers
in Sierra Leone, and RUF cut off Kamajor hands and dicks,
spike them on poles and parade the streets. In China
poachers kill endangered tigers, make Viagra from their bones.
You said we are not here to be happy, and I agree

this is what we do: drink alone at dive bars
reading Bukowski, waiting to die,
or else crying for the woman raped on the reservation
who can’t tell her friends. Once you were so drunk
you pissed on a stranger’s lawn, looking in through the window
at the family. Once a brunette sat down at the table with us
and barked. Where does this lead? That poor woman. If only
the cat didn’t have spots, or she hadn’t seen it lying in the road.
If only her father hadn’t died a week before, and maybe if your brother
had known just what to say.

Yesterday, someone smashed my car window,
but only stole a pair of shoes from the back seat. Yesterday you woke
with a pain in your chest, coughing up black phlegm
and afraid your mother is going blind. Look what we do to ourselves,
slipping a chloroform rag under our noses,
lacing our love with PCP. All we can do is survive,
like the boy found in a Syrian home days after an operation to retrieve corpses
from a massacre. How he hid beneath the bodies of his parents,
how he must have cried the way you did
the night the doctor said your brother would be a vegetable.
After two hits of acid cut with PCP, Matt threw himself through a window. 

This world is beautiful, only because of the massive black hole
pulling all our light into its heart; only because the scrub jay,
witness to its own mortality, sings in alarm for its dead
until it is joined around the body in a prayer only understood
by the ash of the forest, stretching away from its origin.
Like our universe, it will soon collapse.
Let us die dreaming—pretending we will go on forever,
voices large as the Terra Cotta Army in the tomb of Qin Shi Huang.
Let us be the paint that evaporates from their faces.
Let us be that dust.    

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