Sunday garage sales in summer,
a box of Zinfandel, lemonade and vodka in the cooler.
I pick up a blue suit I wore a lot in that house
where we lived that had the room we wallpapered with sunflowers.
I didn’t smile much. A sort of broken man
whoring out promises. I was neither charming nor handsome,
a cool lagoon maybe in an awkward brown color,
comfortable enough to bathe in,
but too muddy to want pictures of.
I am much more open now. I have been to the leeches,
taken off the tourniquet, bled the burn of dawns
from my heart into great skies that rest easy on beautiful swimming holes.
After the blood left, there was just bones.
It’s hard to write with clavicles and femurs.
Poetry doesn’t do any starving artist favors,
but I didn’t let it out of my sight. I had nothing to give,
but I guarded that limp life of creative being
like it was Jesus’ tomb.
I mourned, and made wine, and swallowed everything whole.
I got fat on starvation and made more excess for our rummage sales.
Sheets, that I thrashed through,
Choke chains that I used to keep the spirits near,
napkins in case a verse spilled out of me.
All these rosaries and bandages, they come prepared.
I clung to them for months knowing there is nothing that brings the muse closer
then letting her know, ‘you will use what she gives.’
You will make miracle from simple nothing.
You will sit at her bus stop as if every day was Sunday
and you know the buses aren’t running.
You wear blues suits and bake in rooms you wallpapered with sunflowers
and walk along the boardwalk and pretend
you don’t hear yourself in the echo of twig snapping beneath your feet on the forest floor
and your pulse rinses through your body
and the flowers wilt with poverty on their breath,
but you keep the petals and leave them strewn to the muse’s bed
When you sell everything you own on that Sunday
dipping your red cup in a cooler full of Summer Slammers;
she’ll show up
and ask, “how much for the blue maternity dress,”
holding her belly,
letting you know to drink up
the poems are coming
and there will not be time for rest.