What the Living Know
~after Anne Sexton
Suicide has a special language,
a church of broken bells, of rusted chalice.
The body holds an ocean of anguish,
dammed by skin, the brief lover’s kiss.
Life is a circle of boring routines,
getting stuck in traffic, deciding what to eat.
A bottle of pills for what it all means,
razor veins, unzip this suit of ugly meat.
Nothing is beautiful. There is no god.
Your loved ones aren’t waiting by some pearly gate.
Just throwing bones to rabid dogs,
feeding the starved from an empty plate.
My church is bourbon bottle clinking to glass,
my soul is the word you read in your mind,
something to help these morbid seconds pass
before the silk of the coffin is lined.
the good guy dies or doesn’t die,
I’ve never put a penis in my mouth
a friend is an enemy who might switch sides
just before the main character is killed,
even a blue sky is in constant motion
despite all obstacles, the plucky guy wins her heart,
it’s awkward having slept through an orgy
if there’s a time limit, the hero will bend it
like Neo’s spoon, saving the day with seconds to spare,
even geophysicists can’t predict earthquakes
or whose marriage will last
longer than a come stain in carpet,
most heroes will die offscreen
This morning I observed a single black ant navigating the landscape
of what must be miles and miles of inch-wide square white tiles
across this hotel bathroom floor, a journey that makes the ant
seem as if it is floating a mere centimeter above the ground,
some cosmic aberration of laws, or maybe a dark hardening
of viscosity in the gelatinous matter of my eyes.
Unlike the dead cockroach curled to infinite rest
upon its back, set to worship an expanse of carouseling sky,
tiny legs poised in unending prayer to a world it no longer needs,
brown and black exoskeleton reflecting bright dots of sun
between two stepping stones that become its unmarked grave,
I’m outliving the roaches here.
I’m soaking up vodka like a crumpled napkin
dropped into a shot glass, unfurling with weight
that will evaporate and leave me parched
yet open and welcoming new tastes
on this, my osmosis skin.
Nothing changes except everything every second
atomic displacement makes touch an illusion
so imagine yourself as a collection of marbles
wading through an ocean of different colored marbles
everything held together and constantly flying apart
like a perpetual motion machine throwing rods
through the hood or the clock face or a rain cloud
kicking hail stones around like lottery balls
adding layer upon layer of onion-like ice
until too heavy for wind
and supernovas occur once a century in our sky
the light outrunning everything except neutrinos
which the universe gives a head start
because energy always needs a place to go
and humanity is a hail stone gaining weight in the clouds.
Jay Sizemore hates it when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared here or there. He has had a lot of time to change his mind about everything he ever wanted. Currently, he lives in Nashville, Tn with his wife, though he often wonders if he is really alive or just changing forms.