Others Places I’ve Been Tonight

Swamp vines clinging to muddy legs,
singed clothes and a grateful kitty,

did not save me from her wrath.
Try explaining to your girlfriend

you didn’t make an anniversary dinner
because a bog monster tried to drag

you into the muck, and it was only
because of the buck knife she gave you

as a present that you could escape
its deadly embrace, a quicksand grave.

She also doubted that on the way here
I saw a neighbor’s home burning,

a cat mewing from an open window.
Would she have wanted me to abandon

the pet to insensitive firefighters
who showed up with giant white hoses

long after the frame became a skeleton
sitting in the pile of its body’s ashes?

The little beast licked her red cheeks,
I promised to shower after the meal.

She took a call, put on a NASA helmet,
asked a valet to find her space buggy.

A rocket to Mars needed a captain,
what else could she do but try to help?



The day I first noticed nose hairs spiking
below my nostrils I grabbed some scissors
and chewed them till my skin was a bare lawn
with no place for birds to feed, bugs to hide.

Others had seen and said nothing to me.
They snickered while I inhaled old age deeply,
germinating black seeds in my tired lungs,
nurturing weeds with each breath I exhaled.

I worried I would forget to cut them,
pretending they’d gone into remission,
when they were just waiting for me
to ignore my mirror’s dark evidence.

My dad had fuzz all over his body,
silver wormy strands covering red flesh.
Our epidemic came from his father,
who was killed by it twenty years ago.
Sometimes when obituaries caught my eye
before I turned to sports, death almost tripped
off my tongue.  But I looked away, my face
in the window smooth as a sheet of glass.

Each morning I used a trimmer to shave
whiskers from my cavities.  I found more
on my neck and in my traitorous ears.
They grew into their own deadly gardens.

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