At the drive through
I’m buying chicken nuggets for the dog
On our way home from the vet
The drool is nerves, not hunger.
Paul at the window tells me there’s a backup,
Nine people behind me.
The woman at the second window screams at the Manager
Paul made her repeat her order, has an attitude.
Says she wants him fired.
I just want to go home,
And so does the dog,
And so do the nine people behind me.
The woman, she wants somebody to listen.
Eleven cars now. Almost out to the 196th.
Paul’s got needle marks in his hands
And a rosary around his neck
I don’t want to be homeless, he tells me
I know, I say. I want to apologize but don’t.
You get what you give. You know?
The dog and me, maybe we did. Once.
In the morning, he says
He doesn’t want me to talk to him
Or look at him.
That I smell
like hardboiled eggs.
In the afternoon, he says
He loves me
And can we play Legos.
Thanks for the
blueberry ice cream.
Later, I listen
from the bottom of the stairs as he,
laments to his mother an emptiness
he isn’t yet old enough to name.
Sweet-faced boy, there’s so much to tell you
about waking up alone and
dark corners the same shape and breadth as our missing fathers.
Would that we could find a better nightlight,
one we might carry.
Your poem won’t leave me alone
It’s at 2nd and Pike holding a box of scary teriyaki
It’s behind the Hard Rock smoking a cigarette
It’s outside the bookstore signing your autograph
It’s in the basement of the strip mall modeling sequined ponchos
Why can’t you control your poem
Put it between a notebook full of pressed leaves
Put it on a cocktail napkin folded to prop up a wobbly table
Put it under a pile of things that remind us of them and strike a match
Put it in a pastel-covered anthology no one will buy
Do something about this goddamn poem
Look at the wine stains on its bra
Look at the gravy at the edge of its boxers
Look at what it’s doing to itself
Look at what it’s doing to me
Mountain Goats in Fog
All we ever wanted
Was your sure steady gaze
Wrapped snug in fur and feather.
That shale you stood on
Clatters under our feet.
We’ll still leap; just say the word.