I’ve been thinking about what love is for.
Not the dramatic part where he gathers
until he is as purposeful inside her
as an electric storm. Not when he breaks
into a thanks so bright it leaves her split
like a tree. (How we all jolt back, our picnic
ten shades lighter, our hands clapped over awe
that is too big for our mouths, our raw hearts
more tender now that they’re a little burned.)
No, not the connecting and charring part.
(After all, nothing we like to call lightning
stays very long among the branches.)
But the two of them, afterwards, tasting
the electricity. Nibbling the charge
on the ions. When her soul has already
risked coming to meet him at the wide open
window of her skin. When what is left
of his body still feels huge, and he sits draped
in his fine, long coat of animal muscles
but uses all this strength to be human
and almost imperceptible. They curl up,
make their bodies the same size, draw promises
in one another’s juices. “You,” they say.
I love it when they say that.
Would that they could give a solid reason.
Sometimes they even refuse to try. They make jokes
while cinching their laces- “I’ll call soon,”
“You are so sweet.” The rank sugar of his breath
doesn’t summarize the world for her. “Not you,” they say.
And nothing bad has happened. They just turn
the doorknob that has been shining in their hands
the whole time, walk out, and continue to die.
Same as the rest of us. So maybe love
is a form of crying. Of finishing
what autumn leaves always start and turning
a brilliant color before we drift down.
Name one living thing that doesn’t
somehow bloom. None of them get to choose
the right conditions. Think of fire, of orchids.
She’s already up the street when he feels
his body pale, close, and become insufficient.
“If you go,” he says out the door, “I go too.”
There is no one like him, but she has no hope
of ever proving it. Instead she stays up
pressing old secrets into his skin and asking
if it hurts. He sets her on top of himself
so he can’t leave without her and confesses
to feeling as if he almost matters,
as if he no longer disappears
as soon as he connects with something
receptive on the ground. She says she will
split in half for him a million times.
They bring flowers and carpet and children
into the act, stand by one another’s side
for years. They refuse to move, ever. They act
as if they’ve found the only hospitable
spot on earth. I love it when they do that.
Initially…he didn’t. Chaco stayed in bed dreaming.
In his dreams Grandpa Fred was still alive and taking him
to get ice cream or flu shots. That went on for six and a half
months. Finally. One morning Chaco was in the bathroom.
Pissing. When Chaco returned to his bedroom his king size
canopy bed was gone. Chaco thought he was dreaming.
He pinched himself. “Ow, that hurt. Damn it,” Chaco said.
Then. An angel that looked a helluva lot like Painter Bob
appeared. “Whoa. What the hey boy?” Chaco asked.
He was rendered inarticulate by the surreal situation.
“Don’t be scared, Chaco. I’m completely benevolent and mellow.”
Painter Bob the angel the vision whatever the fuck he was
took Chaco on a magical flight around the world. Chaco saw
freshly hatched alligators blinking their new little eyes
in Louisiana. Chaco saw tired speed ravaged women giving
lap dances in Nevada. Chaco saw frustrated actors on unemployment
giving themselves pep talks and enemas in Los Angeles.
Chaco saw fat sloppy tourists gawking at the Pyramids in Egypt,
farting and picking their noses, knowing there was no way in hell
they could compete with all of that. After the tour Painter Bob
The Benevolent treated Chaco to a taco and an imported Mexican beer
in Santa Fe. The name of the cafe was Coyotes Locos.
“Chaco, how will you live the rest of your days?”
Chaco looked around at the adobe art galleries and rubbed
his goatee. “Well, I guess for starters I’ll start having sex
again,” Chaco replied. Painter Bob The Curious gave Chaco a hug
then flew off in search of his next assignment.
Endless aisles. Scary shiny floor. Grotesque baby dolls
stacked to the bug smeared ceiling.
With a push of a button the dolls bawl for affirmation.
The house talent, a former peep show starlet named Meridia,
tantalizes seekers on the intercom.
“Buy one bag of taco nuggets, get one free. Looking for
something snazzy to wear to the barbecue?
Zebra stripe Spandex ho dresses on clearance
in Wild Woman World, to the left of Teen Tart Turf,
directly behind Forlorn Fat Ass Camouflage.”
Free fucking samples!
Sliced kiwi and brie on Wheat Squares.
A sincere non-denominational Christian counselor
stands in front of the razors singing Queen’s
“Don’t Try Suicide” on a marked down karaoke machine.
The best things in Treasure Mart are hard to find.
Raspberry flavored anal lube, a magical elixir
guaranteed to stave off ennui,
cluttered on the wrong shelf
with Baby Einstein teething toys
and small press poetry books
left by mischievous elves high on
energy drinks and Sharpies.
Issues of Big Natural Tits in disarray.
No cameras and the employees are all hungover.
An inept pirate’s