Ryan Collins

*

[YOU ARE A DANGER TO YOURSELF & TO OTHERS—]

You are a danger to yourself & to others—
Singing in the shower has not improved
Your voice.  Practice does not make
Perfect, only permanent—chiseled into
A definite form from a protoplasmic block.

We tangle our lines & get tangled up in blue,
In certain songs that pale once-rosy cheeks
Of fathers spending Father’s Day staring
Into the deep end of bourbons on the rocks,
Trying to keep steady eyes on the shape of
The shape we’re in, our knees knocked
Weak to a stutter.  We slur & stumble away,
New American—arms out, hands wobbling
Through darkness.  The B sides of our best
Stories unfold into maps & miraculous songs.

*

AFTER AMERICAN BABYLON

New American, harpooned & chained,
_____ be melodious & unchained from your father’s spires.
Be spiral stairs rounding toward the lord
_____ until the atmosphere runs out of your lungs.

New American, where are your hinges?
You’re unhinged, shoveling furiously downward,
_____ to unearth hinges buried in your grandmother’s
_____ _____ flower garden when you were small.

New American, nothing of you is small or easily
_____ nailed to your sideways head, or shoulders,
_____ _____ or knees & toes.  It’s a game

___you never win, New American, but one you can’t stop
_____ playing.  You measure out piles of want
_____ _____ with the edge of your hand.

New American, point yourself to the four winds,
_____ your eyelids nailed open & overwhelmed, unable
___to overcome the barrier between your head & shoulders.

You are not a mountain, New American.  We are mountains.

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