3/ Sweet Transformation – after Whitman
The feeble/glorious arms of men,
handing burdens over,
passing on, away. Muscle is the
soul sprung to life, the
secret vice, the hard seed in the crux
of the sunflower.
I rest my cheek on a bicep: Jacob
and his stone pillow.
The cool crook of an elbow
cradles me like a womb, a room
where I can twist the sheets
and almost die.
It’s the last man who’ll
carry me the farthest, whose
flesh I leave my own flesh to.
Let us both burst into sweat,
let us rain flames on grief
and smoke ourselves a dark new
glory. A blindness jarring.
Just one more step, one
more embrace. When you leave
my body at the door, both skin
and bone become the painted wood,
the blue, the hinge, the knob
that revolves around the sun.
4/ Sweet Oblivion – after Sexton
It’s a red convertible, no doubt,
sleek chrome bumpers, whitewalls,
horn that wails like a woman
going down for the third time
in one luscious night. Skid marks
in the suburbs, tish, smoke rings
lapping at the rear view mirror.
30 miles to the gallon,
cruise control, a radio
that Nat King Cole lives in.
Watch how the curb crumbles
when you pull away. Look at red
blurring, like bleeding
internally from a dozen
different wounds. Feel the way
speed turns your heart inside out, pain
snapped up by the wind. Next stop
NYC, Broadway torn into
little glittery pieces.
Going so far and fast, the poem
can’t hold on to a single word,
naked as the road’s shoulder, as
those split white lines running down
the middle of every distance.
You could take a ride with God
in this, watch his head blow off
as you break the scream barrier.