Daylight Under the Bed
(A Poem for the Year 2014)
Bridget the bartender at Brooks and Browns
on the flip side of the front entrance to the Holiday Inn on
Pattee Street in Missoula, MT told me an old Catholic saying
that goes something like this, "You cannot let the sun set
on being pissed."
This was my failure.
There is a pattern I have worn
in my pillow
with bad days.
There is a street lamp
so sick of shining on pavement,
an impatient plaster cast of kindness
drizzled in the efforts of a greedy moth.
Don't just stand with your hand on the kill switch
watching like a wasted wish.
Turn me off.
I have so much blood
when I wake up
it rumbles under my ears
a stampede of blazing horse rabies
barreling toward my threshold.
Put your head to my plunging chest if you still don't believe
they are constantly coursing
through my hiding spots
they find me
breathing too loud.
I have been pulled out by the ankles.
In these bones
it is my understanding
that whatever suffering is left of me when I die
will translate and travel with me.
On days like today
this is the only reason I stay here. When I go
I do not want to take this beast with me.
Not one more step.
I know better
than to call a thing good or bad.
I won't say that Hell is inappropriate.
These detachment lessons
Who can sleep like this?
These bursts of beast in my blind reactions
and bombing around
the space between pavement
and the night
furious with this life
for being beautiful while I
shake the haunted from my bed sheets,
strip the years away from your vacancy
from being wilted
in the way you walked away.
There is so much blood in me
when I sleep
it pushes against my teeth.
Waterfalls pound the rocks to paste.
like smoked salt and thimble slits.
Did you not see my nails raked back and bloodied?
I worked feverishly for this bed sweat,
boorish and run aground.
you dirty mothers apron
smeared in father attacks and
who laughed and walked backwards
while they watched me try to catch up,
when word got out
I was eyeing the physics of needlepoint,
I was beginning to make astonishing sense.
Their brothers tried sewing my lips shut.
Horsehair and bar breath.
too eager for streetlights
should not be in charge of sutures.
Look at this mess.
I constantly turn my pillow
to feel the cool side
on my neck
so the tar in my lungs will level
pave the way to safety
unfold my forehead
to the victims of my bad behavior.
gone unchecked in my music.
I have been trying to stay composed.
The lyrics to candle spit.
I am a lonely country
waving a landscape of flags
across the consequences of intentional language.
Fireflies in prison jars.
Bald tires on ice.
Guardrails that will not go the distance.
Jungle gym bars. These oily hands.
Missoula got ugly.
Mississippi kiss me.
A howling rush of simians
through the throat of a white man
begging to rearrange privilege
so he can return to fitting in again.
Safety is not my partner.
Comfort did not grow up here
in daylight under the bed.
All the anger I found in your map to kindness.
The groove where I was gutted.
A shovel up of red lights
in a tin can full of roads. My blood
moves so fast
it splits me like a tuning fork
fighter jet threaded through a house fire
rolled in the flicker of an aerosol can.
A blast of boiled foam in the mattress
where my head was supposed to rest.
There was no rest when you lived here.
Warm goes the whistle from a cold metal man.
the floor sweeping, sandwich making,
ocean swimming mother of Bassett Street
on the flip side of the front entrance
to the cathedral in Petaluma, CA
told me an old personal realization once that went
something like this,
"The lesson will be repeated
until it is learned."