If you give them Anne Sexton without water

And suddenly I’m scared as fuck.

And suddenly I’m frightened because I can’t come up with a more descriptive word than

fuck.

How does one inhale the ocean of English words and spit out only the ones that writing teachers tell you not to use,

the ones that mean nothing or everything tasteless

or sold in six-packs at the convenience store?

How does one take the dung of rubber goats and wreak from it a stony death chamber on the page, twisting like a mad music box?

When I look up from this travesty

suddenly the wrinkled trees gasp and snicker down on me and scrape air with their green blades;

suddenly the sun is a foot lower in the sky

like butter in a microwave, puddling dry of color and shape and leaving the evaporative whisper: “I’ll be back, in a different form.”

Suddenly the gray smiling woman with her collie and her terrier is very gray and very far away and the leash is a string of entrails that they drag, thirsting to attach it back to the round orange heart she throws across the field, but it lands unclaimed on mud and flowers

(young dandelions, weeds which are darkened a shade

as I step over, motile as I am.)

I know something about butterflies:

the first to bloom

threads her tiptoes at the edge of the tree branch, looking up at the blue stuff that seems endless as a rolling Whitman river

looking down

at the green blades shooting upward from the ground’s head-

scruffy dandruff as it is, it is reachable-

and the first-bloomed butterfly breathes, swan-dives, echoes

down, a certain diamond-hewning down

a toll of silence rings argentine as the ground gluts itself on her cadavre.

And all the other butterflies, watching from the drying-twigs or through the clouded walls of their own cocoons

want to fly to fall that way

if I must explode in failure, they say,

why not paint it in the brilliance of autumn, with the tear-dripping apples thumping in the wings and the brown flicker of a lost deer leaping over a stream bedridden with mossy bile, and slash my signature through with a certain jagged fashionable scar

so that everyone will know who I was

and that I failed most beautifully of all?

These poems swallow passers from the sidewalk, my terror hungers for me to be next.

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One thought on “If you give them Anne Sexton without water

  1. “How does one inhale the ocean of English words and spit out only the ones that writing teachers tell you not to use, the ones that mean nothing or everything tasteless or sold in six-packs at the convenience store?” is a great line. Also “I failed most beautifully of all.” Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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