Tonight I called my mother a failure. It is then that I realize that poems cannot contain whole memories or relationships.
Only that it reminds me that tonight is also the night I was struck by a drunk driver on my college campus my sophomore year.
How Leah Foreman, my drunk driver, haunts me more than my mothers credit card debt. In writing these lines it is now that I find utter terror when my bank account reflects 0.01 cents and utter joy when it reflects -2,148.66 dollars.
I want to give up like my mother has and give 35 years of my life to Kart Foods. How they will fire me before I can claim pension.
And because you only mute the television,
I want to give up like my father has and never love anyone after the suicide of my first and only son. How for over a decade I have banished myself to sleeping on the couch as punishment. I will never feel the warmth of another person.
How I wonder and chuckle and think that just maybe Leah Foreman hasn’t given up.
You keep diagnosing yourself with articles that you read on social media. It’s anxiety because of your out-going personality. It’s trauma from your days as a victim in the third grade. A bully named Jimmy. How he only pushed you in the mud. Once. It ruined your favorite coat. I’m over it. I want you to be over it. Unfollow the whole damn thing.
We’re not in love because I tell you to your face. But you cannot fathom emotions without the use of emojis.
You’re stunned in silence. Phone still in hand. I see it. I watch you as you watch yourself. The true pull to not glance over at the screen.
You falter. You fail.
And you’re not worth it.
Because I want love. The kind you can’t read about on social media. I’ll unfriend you, because I know you can’t unfriend me.
& when I drove my car into the driveway I didn't get out for a long while.
Written in the Fall of 2009
And I knew my father would hear my sputtering 95’ Subaru
breaking to a stop, because he sleeps on the couch,
and whenever something was happening outside
he would be that neighbor pulling back
the pillow case that covers the front door window and peer out.
But tonight he didn’t, so I sat there longer.
& I tapped on the steering wheel remembering
that it was during dinner that you threw your plate on the wall
because mother mentioned that it is winter and that our house is cold.
But our roof is shit and we have possums crashing in through the attic. And it is
funny because you are a roofer.
And after I refuse to leave in this weather, you slap me and force me through the door anyway.
But before I could leave, I have to shovel the driveway. And there you are—
watching through the pillow case.
& I took my time driving,
before ending on Dundee Road at Walgreens
where I purchased your Marlboro Menthol 100 Lights.
I told the cashier “For my brother.” But I have no brother anymore—
just his old room and just this singular overpriced item that is double bagged.
But here I am, inhaling your fumes, because my window is frozen
and the ash tray is full of your crushed filters.
I key the door, because the porch light is broken as well.
Now it’s past 3 am and you will be awake in an hour to go to work.
& when I enter
there you are, sleeping—
with the television on.
And because you’re my father and I love you
I take your glasses off
and place them next to your ashtray.
In Which I Find Myself Reeling Outside of Independence, Iowa
I work at Petland.
In the fish department I am sitting high up on a ladder aqua-scaping. It is only kind of movie sad for I want to melt my whole arm, but only up to the sleeve, far beyond the knowings of surface tension. It is only satisfying to know that I will make very little mess while rearranging the sunken ruins of Colosseum’s and plastic pirate ships. As I move from tank to tank, I am unbattle torn like a gladiator or a Magellan. Yet, I just want to be those things inside of tanks and dip my whole being down beneath the substrate. A sand bed where I could be buried by the weight of supposedly life healing water. And if I had gills too, I’d breathe another dollar that I owe to ‘the man.’ The hand that feeds me flakes of other ground up dream meal. There would be a child poking my glass shouting why I wasn’t moving fast enough. I am a piece of substrate sinking deeper and deeper. Find me in the back.
Yesterday I found a word that rhymed with orange. But I’m not going to tell you the word that rhymes with orange.
You’ll have to guess and count on all ten fingers, toes too, the word that rhymes with orange. All I know is
that it is an ancient word. Ancient beyond Mayans and civilizations before those Mayans. It may have been my teacher or my neighbor or a movie that told me that we have forgotten others words too. We have forgotten the words that rhyme with the words that we have forgotten.
Or we may have just forgotten their true meaning– beyond any knowingness. Perhaps we forgot about the people too. The people who made up those words. The person who made up the word that rhymes with orange. Forgot the very details about how to
grow our own food. I didn’t know where an orange even came from until the eight grade. I didn’t find them in trees, but in test tubes and centrifuges.
The word that rhymes with orange sounds heavy. Squishy sometimes. With a slight leap in the middle. It sounds slow. And somehow sad. But nobody can tell me why oranges come from test tubes.
Yesterday I found a word that rhymes with orange. But I’m not going to tell you the word that rhymes with orange. Because you’ll just forget.