Clutched Prize

That jaw must be wearing out by now.
A slow explosion. Swallow the shrapnel.

It lies heavy in the stomach. Wormwood,
whatever that is. Medicine. Desserts.

I remember a child trying to catch
some attention, waiting for a break

that seemed to never come.
I could see the eyes drifting

like water over a rounded rock.
That rock must be gone by now.

I remember a child in the bleachers
trying to catch something.

He waited while the game, which
was for adults, was played.

He waited, chewing the inside
of his cheek sometimes.

He waited, is waiting, jaw aching,
for the slow explosion,

the puff of dust, the clutched prize.
You did it. You did it. I’m so proud.

Weather

If there are greater things to talk about
than how the rain
that rose up from
its hydrous grave
that rallied as
dense thickets
of thunderclouds
that created ozone
where the was none
that sang cannons

is now
being held back
by a few sheets of newspaper

I don’t know
or want to know
about them.

Benefit Cheque

the war came
back from
the far country
a world and a
half away
as a man
as a bayonet
antique
bit of hardware
thought we’d
stopped that
who slipped
a well-rifled
barrel
past his teeth
onto his
tongue
metallic
and a bit bitter
rarely fired
and fired
no-one was surprised
except at the
pop of it
a room and a
half away
not his mother
who had had
she thought
hidden it well
or his wife
a town and a
half away
tangled in
bed-sheets
or the bureaucrat
who came to collect
what remains
not smeared into
the carpet
the mirror
the wallpaper
not lapped
up by the cat
who
benefit cheque
or no benefit cheque
must be
fed

We Forgot The Kettle

We forgot the kettle again. We act
like it’s the first time but it’s not.
It’s a pattern. But how
not to forget things?

I could write a few things down. But I
won’t because I don’t have the time.
Too much work, I say, scurrying
after forgotten things.

They scuttle under furniture. They have
minds of their own, stolen from mine,
the parts that remember the
important stuff.

So now I remember: This video about
Wes Anderson and bilateral symmetry.
What do the letters ECG stand for.
The many side-projects of Efrim Menuck.

And not: Did I turn off the stove.
What is the new PIN for my debit card.
Has the grass been watered or mowed.
Or,

Are you standing in a rainshower
waiting for me to say something
that has grown legs and hidden
behind the refrigerator.

The Scapegoat, Lifted High

The furred field hides bodies beneath.
This is always the way, a story
told in clotted soil tilled
under.

Bronze, never meant to be planted,
struggles to the surface every year.
It is a reminder to be discarded:
Not fit even for ploughshares.

On the empire’s threshing floor
a king’s king stalks the circle.
Chaff enough to blind, but
this is how to make bread.

For a thousand thousand years
no-one asks the question.
Until: How does bread
break a sword?

The scapegoat lifted high answers.
Under the branches of a great tree
we rewrite, so our children
can recite:

This is always the way, a story
told in clotted soil tilled under.
The blood ever flows,
the body ever breaks,

and this is how we
feed the world.

The Story Has Been Told

She strips the nostalgia from it.
The sentimentality has to go, too,
and the melodrama.

What’s left is a
small
polished
jar

that might hold mixed drinks
or ashes.

What’s left is a
wingless bird in a cage
who sings songs so earnest

that the neighbours die.
But she is happy
and that’s what
matters.

The story has been told,
and that’s what
matters.

“I”

The train starts with “I”,
always. The least
interesting way to begin.

“You” who peer say so:
A here that is not here.
A sea that is not a sea.

The hardest mouth
bursting with another
man’s trash–

A few look on furiously
scribbling down
cliches–

These are reachers
whose fingers
“we” call.