BUT FOR A LONG TIME—
there you are & wept on carousels & people movers, on trolleys bedecked with christmas lights & spare
change, oh friend, you can hardly blame me now, ostrich-mothered & often buried in sand, grains of sand
coming out of my hair in the shower for weeks, what could i have done but feed you grape popsicles, but
make you paper crowns, so let me be listened to, let down the silks from the rafters, carabineers once
dropped must be discarded, & the fire burnt low & the zebras were sleeping—but i held hands with myself
as we watched the hot colors flashing—i am making it up to you, let the earth be a flat still mirror, & the
telescopes murmur amongst themselves, let me pull the red wagons full of absinthe, unclose your dark
voice, every day i owe you less & less–
IN WHICH EVERYONE DROWNS:
no, this is what happens:
the cosmonaut drowns. either it’s the spy’s fault
or no one’s. the banker wears all black for years,
which also is what he had done before.
he gets off at a bay teeming with baby sea turtles.
and soon after, the spy falls in love and stays behind
at a port that smells like vanilla and rum.
the lion tamer goes back out alone.
she writes a love letter to every untamed lion,
then tears them all up and throws them into the sea,
then builds a tower around herself from bottles she’d meant
to mail the letters in. this takes a long time.
the boat drifts north.
it’s up to you now: possibly the sky turns lilac
as she’d dreamt it would as a child, in dreams where
beautiful anemones stung her in icy waters. perhaps
the glass tower glints furiously in the midnight sun
as she falls asleep. or it could be that polar bears speak lion
and want to be tamed—
IN CASE OF SUDDEN DICTATORSHIP
be ready with conch shells & dark ponies
fit to be senator. be ready with cake in your mouth.
you can be minister of chariots. or, if that’s taken
already, you can be the guy who sits
in the dictator’s chariot & says forget you are only
a man. you can be minister of boots,
both gravity and anti-. you can be minister
of the noh & stand still when you’re dancing.
be ready with maps, with tender cartographies.
be ready with bells on. if the city burns,
wade the war-spoils back into the sea.
take up your electric violin.