The poet used to climb the ladder
up the side of a railcar,
his face chalky as if lifted from plaster.
We had conversations in the railyard.
He became my father,
hair tousled like Einstein,
afraid of wild beasts in the halls,
saying Mother lay coiled in their bed,
a python hissing.
A phantom in a black suit,
the poet instructed me that a pervading sense of dread
is merely failure,
that rejection is only a pale cadaver stretched on a silver table.
Its as if you’re lead to a room,
they give you a cigarette,
and then from one of the drawers they extract the corpse,
that sweet, quivery apparition
that once lived in your brain,
now riveted by the florescent lights,
unable to blink.
The poet told me of women shackled in green,
the violent fat of their bodies held prisoner,
of men paralized by hunger,
turned to stone by the curves of bellies and pelvic bones,
transformed to howling dogs in the desert,
sniffing for scorpions,
terrified by the moon.
He told me all the women he found asleep in his bed
were veined marble,
smooth, not breathing, dead,
yet so beautiful,
he fell in love.