No one ever explained the difference to me
Between casualty and fatality.
I know someone dies in one
But not necessarily the other,
But I don’t know which,
Like a racist joke about
Public transit people only
Laugh at after looking around the
Guest-list at a dinner party.
The bomb in Omaha today had multiple
Said the NPR reporter,
And I don’t know how sad to be.
So I go around quietly,
With my baking pan
Out on the kitchen counter,
Waiting to be of service,
Deciding whether to make me a treat, or wait.
We made love in the woods,
Like two drunk teenagers,
And while walking out,
She heard a
A body, or a boar?
But in fact two fish—
On the watery surface,
Before it turned to thrashing, submergence,
And this is
And removal of yourself.
The joining and un-joining
In a place conducive to the
The one million fish eggs you will leave,
This is separate.
The heron emerging from
The flooded river, flying over our
Heads into the gray sky as you reach
For my hand,
As we walk to town,
This is separate, too.
On a park bench,
I felt a hand on my shoulder
And turned around to see
No one there.
So I dumped my popcorn and
Drove to the bank, where an ATM
Refused me cash like
A soda jerk
Pulls back the smoky glass
After too many Cherry Cokes, and
Later, checking my inbox
A “please-do-not-respond” email
Popped up, noting the days, weeks,
Since I’ve visited a website for jeans,
How much they missed me.
And I paused,
Like being told
Windows won’t open
In the building when fire rages
After someone throws a filing cabinet
With a thud against the glass,
Because some of my best friends are corporations,
And I’d rather be listening to Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love”
With a woman wearing Hollister, drinking coffee
On a stool, leafing through a catalog of fluffy puppies,
Like baby huskies, “Buskies!” she’d call them with a laugh,
As she filled up my fucking cup.
Some of my friends
Have just been making sounds into the floor fan of life,
But when I walked out of jail
A company made me a sandwich.
When I flew to Texas and a little red pick-up
I found dry sneakers.
And when a man who left the seminary
Told me across a diner booth
The problem with
The way it claims everything’s finite,
As only possible once
And pointed to his chest,
Which I thought meant his Northface jacket,
I cocked my head,
Because I didn’t understand what he didn’t understand.
So instead I told him I had once
Developed a personal relationship
With my ATM, and when
I entered a parking lot strip mall,
Plastic card between my teeth
I thought I saw Christ
(But really only a woman in a
Statue of Liberty costume,
Waving at passerby,
Advertising a tax collection business).
But like a wild animal
Races blindly through an office,
I navigated to the ATM,
Spinning out cash,
I heard its wheels break
And saw how much it’d given me,
Without asking for anything in return,
How it shook the various metallic pieces of my heart
Like a brass ornament glittering in the wind.
And I collapsed, wondering,
How many people had I stepped
On today without so much as recognition?
How many times had someone met me with beaded
Perspiration only just wiped from their brow?
We are all so in need of each other’s good vision.
So as the blank box
Spit out cash,
I offered it my eminence,
For it was
Who holds out a sticker saying,
And though I may not agree,
With the mother or the father
Standing on the curb
About who kills whom,
I will take it anyway,
In reverence to the child,
Who is, after all,