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first of many death poems

Death Poem with Federally Funded Holiday

Butterfly wings sewn to the buttons on your sweater.  The barbeque smoke comes between me and the trees.   Here, people are ready for their meat.

Who has time for kisses?  Why do I always picture you in a golden canoe, watching your hands, making no discernable effort to stop your drift?

I dream that your face turns into a hairless monkey's -- I dream you can talk again, that you have a good singing voice and are trying out "Oklahoma, OK" one chorus at a time.  I dream that I killed you, that I'm trying not to kill you, that I'm finding out who killed you with the help of a very fat nurse.

Construction paper starfish, smudged indigo, crawl out of the burning tree in the corner. The barbeque flames go too high -- the family circling the grill moans and jumps back, then laughs and claps.  They all have the same curly mud-colored hair, like there was a sale at the wig factory.

I dream your coffin is wedding-colored, that we are all carrying bridal bouquets on the floor above, but we've forgotten who's getting married, or if there's a groom.

The tree above starts to sizzle and smoke.  Flames like sudden pipe cleaners indicate the burn.  You won't lift a goddamn oar or meet my eyes: your golden boat floats by on the beige river.

The hospital reeked of wet diapers and fried unions, made the skin on my arms wince.  

The game I brought you with plastic racehorses wouldn't work -- the spinner kept sticking on "interesting question, try again later."  You apologized for everything, tried to write a poem that rhymed "biopsy" with "try for me".

I have to start writing "thank you"s; I have to start digging and forgetting.

My cup of smoke: dry ice or spirit communication?  The trees are full of dive-bombing dragon flies and ex-communicated sneakers.  I dream you face down on a grassy hill, the sky foaming dark above you; your hands greyish, half-closed.  The shapes the swooping swallows make remind me of scissors, their bellies bright red, yellow.