of the Writer as a Young Man
is Mother's Day and the young man is not at home
blood vessel in his mother's head falls in
itself. Boxers speak of being "punch drunk"--
body not knowing that the mind has already fallen
it moves of its own accord, unsteady.
hull-opened ship dollied on the fingers of a flagging wind,
comes in from the garden and manages well enough
make it to the marriage bed that gave her three children--
of whom are away. Her body speaks to her husband.
hears only the television. In the arms of canned laughter
falls asleep, smiling, not knowing that she is smiling.
the night, her dreams are wet, black clouds
a red tide rises inside her skull.
is the next day when the young man returns from his trip,
arms hugging hard-sought comic books
will fill the holes in his collection.
house is a ringing chasm he will not see
he adds his new gains to his collection--
after row of hero under mylar:
Age X-Men, Golden Age Flash,
Age this and that, high quality issues
the earliest Captain America--Joe Simon autographed
one far, far in the back of the collection.
is the one the young man loves most, the one that cost him so
he had to borrow from his mother because the seller
that it was only a matter of time before Simon was dead
death always increases the value of common things. (If the
here the young man would not consider showing it to her.)
lies in a hospital bed, almost an hour's drive away,
tongue forgetting how to speak, the left side of her body
up its ability to hold him--even if he would still let her--
her husband clings to a pay phone, dialing home again
again, as the son sprawls across his bed,
one comic book after another. He does not hear the empty house.
does not see the half made sandwich drawing flies on the
bucket of vomit in the mother's room, next to her bed,
telephone receiver overturned in the living room floor.
latest acquisition is the story of Captain America
his sight after a battle with the Red Skull.
is old, but it will outlast the mother. The young man does not
that yesterday was Mother's Day nor does he smell
scent of decay as his comic books--silent, unmoving, smiling
they lie in their tended beds--decay, completely unaware of him.
America Visits the Veterans
if a man has been chopped down
leglessness and lingering, worshiping
the alter of what used to be, he is not without
will to be so incomplete and gnawed--
human--that he cannot unwrap the bandages
his dangling hand and, with groaning
and malice, offer up his middle finger--
being inappropriate since the stump
only two branches in its entirety.
it is definitely the middle finger
he gives to me, shouting: Hey, Captain
now that you've fucked me, pay me!
me my severance so that you can walk away.
Open Letter from the Red Skull
it be that much easier if I went away?
I gave up the vintage wardrobe patterned after the SS
Death? If I disassembled the repulsor rays,
secret submarines I keep beneath arctic waters
in case of rainy days and governmental coups?
if I turned in my standing army? The militia of minute
to march on wherever, whenever, and for whatever
I happen to make up this week? Then what? Peace?
all of humanity's murder plots cease because I give up mine?
I the fountainhead of Evil? Do planes suddenly fly
my retirement? Do guns transmute to flora? Knives
knitting tools? Can Steve Rogers or Stephen Hawking
make such an argument? No. Of course not.
still, even I fall victim to the occasional belief
I am the one and only God of War. So I take some time off.
curl up with a few good books in some quiet corner
some far away castle--windows shut, doors locked,
incoming calls, no internet, no newspapers, hardly even
I call myself a pious monk of peace
I call the world a cogent mathematical formula,
logic circuit that, without me as a conditional,
eventually follow its own path to Truth, to Utopia.
my surprise when, starving, half-mad from loneliness,
emerge from my sabbatical fully confident that without me,
this face, this visage that so much reflects what humanity
afraid of--bloody Death--the world has become warm, wet roses,
I find the Earth still swelling with graves, the sky thick with
gun smoke, every boney face of man trying to hide the
mere millimeters of flesh.
is during these early moments, these heady times
rebirth, that, like any unwanted child, I know
much of yourself you see when you look at me.