You were born in lava and are the god
of the slow burn. It’s tradition to tile
your image above the stove. Your name
is cursed when the rice over-boils or the shank
burns. I light a candle to you and worry
as the wick eats itself, the smoke escapes.
It’s hard to translate how you’re called—
That which Can’t Be Cleaved is close.
Your emblem is the mistletoe. You’re yeast and cancer.
Mothers weening babies sing your song. I place an apple
on your altar and leave it to rot, as is the custom.
You came from a cleft in a cliff side and no one
ever sees you except as a shadow. If a salt spoon
goes missing or the dog runs away, you’re called
to blame. Children make a game of it. Me, I lie
in bed and listen to the scratch of a branch
and wonder if it’s you, with all you took.
Because I have all the prerequisites
for falling apart and am, like a baked
potato shrunk under its pricked skin
fluffy mealy maybe hard-knotted, unknown
suit me unstraightjacketed. Stomp darkness
a way burning dark, not such a quiet
dark I used to get, shadedrawn eyes dreamt
underground, the loudest sigh a rabbit-
move, the brightest sound a mulchy brown
and every joint loosened onions, worms on
mown rye. Hover, sun-sing me tight, sing-stun
crannies to clenches, be crouched for my burst.
I blur fog from peripheries now, full
of spread. I spread and flare up chomping foil.
Sink of dishes wins—easy.
Easier than sleeping through the night.
Easier than matching wordsoundfacemove.
Botox helps. People smile at fallow brows
tight as the frontal cortex wants to clamp.
Nonchalance covers when there’s not a chance.
The chasm of the dishwasher laughs and
laughs at my folly—skittishness to empty
and fill, full, empty, force and effort.
The sarcasm of saucers cuts, cutlery taunts,
and all the deriding bowls in belly-hoots
dangle dares: Stack me!
You haven’t the courage.
Pour on the scalding
water, slam a cabinet knucklewise, barefoot
broken stemware to see what pain looks like.
Bugger this churn of unease, mouse skitters of panic
caught in corners of eyes, uncatchable.
Empty glue traps of Klonopin every
stalking morning and tiny urine pools
the work of twitch-limb leering nights. Reason
says to sleep and that’s why reason is not
to be trusted and then there’s no that’s why
to anything, just a smothered secret
waterwall of worry—engineered not
to be comprehended— and scallywag
doubts tumbling over in iron-bound barrels.