Alabama

Alabama

Bone houses and rust
where the water is green
and the grass is brown,
and the man in the homemade clothes
you slept beside all night.

The clothes are man made,
clumsy white stitches stitching
dark fabric, seams
on the outside, and everything
he owns sewn with the same
uncareful hand.

The houses with blind eyes
and too many nails, and the man
snoring all night beside you,
and now it is daytime.
Now there is a crane
in a pond of green sludge.
The sun is making
the brown grass look gold,
and the homemade man is offering
you a raisin bun.

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Bonaventure Cemetery – Savannah

One hundred acres of dead,
and my feet aching.
Trees one hundred feet tall
and one hundred years old,
and the years these dead had lived
carved into stones beneath
their names and dissolving in the rain.
How can we tell we are dead
if our hair is still growing?
How can we go on living
when we know it won’t be forever?

I ate handfuls of sunflower seeds
out of a black grocery bag,
watching the way we forget
our dead and feeling
ridiculous while cars drove by
me, all of us looking at the stones
we would one day dissolve under
and feeling our hair
grow out of our heads
slower than the trees were tall.

Savannah

Waking in a new place with your feet
still on the ground, train-cramped,
sun rising and feeling
you’ve earned the 10°C
wind on your skin after leaving
a New York snowstorm,
three feet of slush, and your boots
still drying, the broken boots
you will later accidentally
super-glue your hair to
in a Best Western hotel washroom,
trying to glue the sole
back onto its body.

New York

New York City, holes
for shoes, sleep-drunk
and stumbling through slush
up to your neck, and this
is the movie of your life,
and this is your life.

The glass is ice and the ice
is melting. Your boots
will never be mended.
This is the dream, and this
is your life. The clouds are full
of snow and needles,
but the train is coming,
and soon you will wake
in the warmth.

Newark

Newark

On a Newark station platform,

waiting for the train
to New York City,
the only sound is the light
against the rails and
a man speaking to God
on an imaginary telephone.
His voice slides across metal
and comes to us,
the dream we once all had:
I saw a picture of you in a bathing suit, God.
you looked just like us.

Buried


Amber had just gotten ink put under her skin,
And we were drunk on gin martinis in a bar in Brooklyn
And a man with a voice of tinfoil
Was telling us how the bar was haunted
They found bones in the basement
Buried beside a gold ring
And a statue of something unspeakable
What was the statue of? We wanted to know
But the man wouldn’t say

Amber showed him her new tattoo
Wrapped in plastic for protection
And we stared at the way the ink bled into her

What will our bodies look like after we die?
Will the ink we put into our skin still be on us?
Where will we go when we are no longer here?

But the man wouldn’t say
And our martinis were running low
Amber and me and the man
The bones under the floorboards
And the ink under our skin
The ring and the statue of something unspeakable
And everything else that was buried
And waiting to make itself known.

Staten Island Land of Dead Angels

Staten Island Land of Dead Angels

Staten Island land of dead angels and the post offices are always closed. I walked up streets and down street, and every cardboard box had a price tag, and every emerald house had a price tag, and all the price tags said one hundred billion dollars. Everything said one hundred billion dollars but an angel with his chest caved in and wings made out of paperclips and dirt. He spoke to me in a language I somehow knew although I’d never heard when I was awake, and when I woke, I was on the Staten Island ferry and the Statue of Liberty was staring at me like I’d never find a home.

Alternate Life as a Flight Attendant

In your alternate life, you speak French and are a flight attendant.
In your alternate life, you have a boyfriend named Trevor, and Trevor has a golden retriever who is also named Trevor.
In your alternate life, you are a man and you are gay.
In your alternate life, the Rocky Mountains look like pictures of mountains from the 1970’s.
In your alternate life, you keep your eyes on the mountains while listening to the in-flight announcements and miming putting on a lifejacket for two-hundred unimpressed passengers.
In your alternate life, your name is Trevor and your boyfriend’s name is Trevor and your dog’s name is Trevor.
In your alternate life you are pushing a cart full of light refreshments down a narrow aisle.
In your alternate life, you think about Trevor at home, and for a second your boyfriend Trevor and your dog Trevor are one.
In your alternate life, a baby is crying and someone is asking if you can’t please do something about it.
In your alternate life, you have to look at people and smile at them even when they don’t deserve to be smiled at.
In your alternate life, you and Trevor your boyfriend take Trevor the dog to the dog park by the beach on your days off.
In your alternate life, the plane is preparing to land and you’re almost home.

When We Got to the Edge of the Ocean

we tasted it.  Two kids from the middle
of Canada and the water that tastes
like salt, water that tastes like ocean
when we thought it would taste like tears.
We’d spent our lives searching
for sea and finding parking
lots instead, gulls chewing up garbage
on the parched pavements of our childhood,
and the way even the sky looked wet
when we finally made it to water.
One sheet of endlessness
on top of another sheet of endlessness,
we looked at the sky and waited for it
to swallow us.  And waited for it
to spit us out.  And waited to turn
to sea glass with our edges turned flat.

Walking Home in the Rain

For Laurel

We must always remember this moment in The Meadows, an ocean away from where we are from, walking home with this light rain on us and the way the grey sky makes the pink trees pop.  You wearing mittens and eating ice cream and me in my toque, alternating between bites of warm baguette and cold brie cheese.

We want always to remember, to be this young and this beautiful, walking with our hands full to the home we built for ourselves.  We do not know how to get to where we are going.  We do not know where we’re supposed to be.  We know only that our life here is temporary, you with your ice cream, me with my baguette, walking home in the rain.