kudzu canyons

last time i drove home the kudzu
was still south of Louisville, flanking
the highway like towering green
soldiers shoulder to shoulder, the road
the floor of a canyon. i’ve been told
it grows an inch a day or two
feet in a week but i bet it could cover
a sleeping woman in a night. you
would think this stretch of highway
was my favorite by how many
times i’ve driven it. the first dozen
i loved watching the vines
on their slow march north, loved
the names of indiana’s most exotic
towns: tippecanoe, prophetstown.
lebanon. this time the kudzu is nearly
to Cincinnati. there’s no taking back
the south now. it’s important to know
when to let something go under,
when there’s nothing to salvage.
what would we even be trying to save?
this will all seem better in a hundred years,
behind panes of glass wiped smooth.
history has a way of making everything
worth looking at again. i say let it all
be swallowed, give someone else
the joy of discovery. i stop at a gas station
outside of farmer city, a real place,
and i am kind to the woman behind the counter.
it is the first time i am soft in weeks.
given enough time, the south
can snarl anyone. sometimes it’s easier
to be kind to strangers. i am driving
again, from one home to another
separated by land quilted with corn,
wheat, alfalfa. how many homes can one
person claim? it is also easier to be cruel
to strangers. how long until the kudzu
covers them all?

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cat funeral

i am pulling the kayak from the lake
when i see it: dead cat, mossy and waterheavy,
body pillowed almost unrecognizable. white paws
stick out from it’s body like a child’s drawing: circle
with four lines. i want a shovel and a piece of quiet
dirt but i also want to give a good wringing, twisting
out the wet until matted but living. my wrists are
not strong enough to wring water from lungs.
i think about the world like this: i am always
the deficit. i can’t pin this accident to a clothesline.
the cat bumps against the rocks and says nothing.

the blue-green algae is blooming poison. it’s the biggest bloom
anyone can remember. the water looks walkable, solid with green.
i think it is the whole lake in mourning for this dead thing, a field
of tiny flowers, the procession moving in ripples. nature knows
how to throw a funeral. the water climbs over my sandals and it’s all
the same. toes water is dead cat water is every water in this big hole.
i can’t help but feel too late. i am not responsible for everything
i could have prevented but it knocks around behind my chest
all the same. i can’t tell which end is the head. it must be hard to die
out in the open.

the wrong hour

i dream about kissing
the throats out of men
i’ve loved. in the dark
they taste like mango
but chew like oats. all
breakfast. i wish for coffee
to wash down the sticky.
i wish they dreamed me
into pieces. maybe they do.

i explain to my now love
how i always seem to find
myself made of hair on tile,
a smear across sheets,
a towel wet at the wrong hour.
it is easier to hurt than be
hurt i say but know
they are the same thing.

walk me around the city
on the same pieces of sidewalk.
when it’s too hot to touch,
use only the flat part of the tongue.
turn me to a salt lick. fuck me
behind glass.

grease on our tongues

there is a reason animals hide themselves to die.
to watch something go out like this, to still look
alive just so still, it is not something we deserve.
i wonder if you keep a dying animal on a leash
how long it will avoid the dying. i try to stay
close, close to this love that is like the last of lotion
on skin. we are still slick with it but can no longer
see it. it is grease on our tongues. i trade long runs
for sprints down the block, slow walk back.
i am scared to get too far away. scared the whole
frame might uproot itself in search of a place to go
out alone. the best places to die are only slightly
bigger than your body. the absences make us louder
but we all have to take breaths sometimes. we both
are children again, passing our fingers through a flame,
so quickly at first then slower, still slower in search
of the burning point.

sugar high

i spend the whole afternoon making cakes
you won’t eat. they all turn trash differently.
the lemon turns dark where it touches air,
the blue-gray of storm clouds. the pumpkin:
frosting turns sour first. the carrot — each bit
of shaved vegetable starts to grow mold,
the rest of the cake remains. i try to read the rot
like tarot. i am not sure what this means for us.
i imagine i am getting better which does
nothing. i imagine you are getting better at handling me
which does worse than nothing. when the mold
overwhelms them, i leave heaps in the front yard.
the city animals ride the sugar high for days,
careening across the telephone wires and falling asleep
wild-eyed under tires. the street in front of our house
is part asphalt part fur. you say the city should clean up
this public death. you feel the dried, flat skins
on your body like punishment. you should have
just eaten the cake. i had to make them,
crowding us out of our small kitchen like artifacts
from a happy life. i am fooling no one. when i stand
on our porch the road screams with a dozen toothy mouths.

distance

i wish your love did not feel as far
away as you are. i am no good
at distance. i am the same size
as my body when it is with yours but
feel smaller. it is amazing how
4,000 miles away everything
becomes you. two boys throw a frisbee
in a field. i order peanut butter ice cream
& mouth warm it. all of the parks
have ping pong tables. a man on the train
has stolen your skin, hair but forgotten
to take the rest. still, i try to touch him
just a little. it is not enough
but it must be. the days are easy. i am full
with the newness. at night i eat dinner
alone with a beer like melted caramel, walk
home like i am trying to find anything
except my bed. a man stands outside
an apartment building with an armful
of flowers in a way you never have, but still
i put his jacket over your shoulders.

spit-smooth

we are sitting around the dining room table trying not to think
about how it is the last time we will. the ceiling hangs over
our eyes like a cloth so we touch hands, cheeks, lick salt
and dirt off each others noses. it tastes too good to be
the last time we all come to rest between my teeth. the mouth
is not made a place to keep things but we have given it
our best. we are worn spit-smooth, good under thumb
and tongue. i have done nothing that matters more than making
this, this object shaped like a good skipping stone built of our bodies,
of my little black dog, a hundred ripe bananas and the way we insist
on brushing our teeth at the same time. i want to draw in each
of us where i can’t imagine us not. it’s hard to lose something
all at once that you gained little by little. though i am not sure
it would be better to lose every piece of this house, this life we built
at the speed we made it. to wake up one morning with a hole
where the stove was. the next day, we undo our laundry and bicker
for the first time. some day the hole will be one of us. no, it is better
like this. there is a joy in seeing how far you can throw even
the afternoon’s best stone.