And the book says the fruit balloons to life
with not just its ripening but the rot too
A carton of figs
of which a dark stain persists
on the wall of that hotel
on the Lower East Side
where they house the shittiest Warhols,
A smell you left, like mint, in the hallway.
Entire photo albums, felt markered names:
The night your bags were glaciers
The night they fractured over the floor,
The night when they were finally gone—
All of it written before you’d arrived—
Didactic exchanges on the loverly heart,
Darkness unfolding over my face—
Here lies the Idiot Moon.
Here rest: a thrift shop Mary,
a flower I have no name for,
a bevy of crashes—and here, if you’d look,
a portrait of the Big Guy himself
reversed once in silence back onto the wall.
His punishment for ogling completed.
How happy they look in their pictures, the dead,
—crummy dads, bratty kids, Christ painted
in stupid styles—how uncompromisingly alive
do they look in the pictures.
I smile now
fake and red-lipped into the mirror
and then it distends. There is nothing
to be done.
The flower took to the lowground, skully
with age where it fell.
Some drywall too, has made it, in flakes
to the carpet. The hole there cartoonish
in its impression of a hand.
I open the book and it tells me what to say.
THIS IS WHERE I MAKE MY STAND
To say this and feel it in the bowels, the book says.
And I guess I’m just an American this way. I’d always
rather take a pill than read,
prefer to inflate my hallowéd head
with bus stop indiscretions, sacred
quarterback ratings—a break
any break—from the elemenopee
this merciless accounting
I find myself doing.
I would like to take this opportunity
if I could
to stop breathing.
Or maybe now: a real live
like you were always dreaming.
Conjuring then, like you are wont to do
presumably still, I wouldn’t know.
Alike in its flight
to the dreaming you’d done,
in the pink bed you made us.
Like we did together
in the pink rain that day,
and the pink sound you gave me with the purple sky above,
and the trains breaking up behind the bay doors—
Purple and pink were our colors: like a gas explosion,
like a flower, dressed up like a playset. Then,
as things go, petals scattered on the floor.
It is this way too when the bombs
are actual. Though it’s muscle unraveled
in al-Bayda or wherever, minarets who shiver apart
in the street.
Not me on the carpet.
Not some dumb flower. Nod, dumb flower!
An orchid let’s call you.
An orchid, a gift from the dirt to the dirt.
See, God gave us two great big eyes for darting,
two ears for piercing, and only one heart
which he called Phylomina.
A cavernous mouth, the Lord gave us
for Legion to stream from.
She tells this
to the tattooed children in lock-up.
“Don’t give me that tabernacle hoo-haw, Delores.”
“Don’t keep these kids in the dark, Dick”
It is nothing but time—I know!—that tightens
over our wounds: cobwebs blooming
in the corners of rooms,
Same goes for the dripping
like bats of the tits.
And I say I guess I’d piss
on anyone who asked, but what I want
is something sadder now: silly breasts glassy
with teardrops beneath me
and no fucking laughter
only my face pointed dumbly at another,
Any kind of silent wiling away
of at least one day, with whosoever might
beseech back for me now
in their own impenetrable dark
Or a copy of the album I learned to smoke to,
Then when that doesn’t work, a movie
that once made me cry.
See, I’d like a nice arc shot from the camera,
A crayongreen field
and a Windows XP sky
and then maybe a lens flare I guess.
Consider the whole thing an exercise in losing.
Consider the fat-handed baby cocooned in my chest.
Joshua Kleinberg has lived in Florida, Ohio, Montana and Seattle. He is a barback in Brooklyn and co-curator of Banquet Reading Series."