in memoriam, David Dormstein (1963-1988)

10. My mother is weeping over my grave.
She places a pink rose petal on my name.
She kisses my name.
The petal sticks to her lips for an instant.
She washes the stone and the stone darkens.
I see the stupidity of everything.

9. Tonight, on television, red water cascades from a fountain’s
crying mouth.
Snow geese fly in circles above the site of the crash.
Elvis makes good as a stock-car driver.

8. The point is to get from one place to another.
All our lives, that’s it.
Squiggly tubes and tissue, ambitions, trivia, lunch boxes,
clothing, desires, underwear, misunderstandings, all
from one place to another.

7. I was a student of history.
I see now even the stupidity of history.
A revolution describes a perfect circle.
Man is born free but everywhere is in chain stores.
Those that don’t know their fathers are condemned to be them.

6. I am now a student of SEMTEX.
It has taught me everything again, in a brand new way.
I bathe in SEMTEX, filling my bathtub with it, christening
the hard yellow plastic rubber ducks of childhood.
I eat SEMTEX, which is surprisingly tasty, especially with
raspberries in the morning.
SEMTEX is my pillow when I’m weary, my drink when I’m thirsty.
It’s my mail at noon and my love at night.

5. When I got to Scotland, the air was damp and cold, the men
busy with shortwaves.
I must say the investigators treated us very, very well.
You’ll get no complaints from me.
The entire bunch was first-rate, it was.
It was much worse for them than it was for us.
(Some of us still had shallowy breath, pulsing.)
The looks on their faces.

4. On Broadway at midnight, the bus driver exhales his last fare.
He darkens his destination sign and nails pedal to floor.
He wants to fly home.
He thinks about his wife’s fine fingernails in bed.
He hasn’t given me a thought.
I’m not saying I’m hurt, but.

3. The florist’s flowers bleed.
The drunkard’s ulcers bleed.
The balance sheet bleeds.
The boxer bleeds.
The tape bleeds.
The paint bleeds.
The woman, she bleeds, baby.

2. Take one dumb horse’s life, for instance.
Standing so smooth and easy in the field, waiting for the stud,
nibbling at Kentucky bluegrass under soft skies.
Why is she not flying to battle, head erect and ears up?
Why is she not under the Conquistador?
The Confederate?
The Roman?

1. We are all born dead.
The early morning edition is dumped off the truck and swung
onto the stand with the sad promise of tomorrow’s head.
A certain amount of living is done, somewhere between sea
turtle and blue-footed booby.
The woman inside the bank feeds the machines.
The door of the past swings in, not out.
My mother can’t sleep, and she walks downstairs, and she turns
on the set, and she takes her pill and she wets herself.