i am not all water
nor does the cue ball sink me
nor the cowboy rope me nor the monk
sit through me.
i am a thousand faces at
the bottom of the bottom’s gravel. the
sea sharpened stones that clink and
i am not all river
not the sand on the tongue’s first someone
or even a falling star.
i am all tooth and nail breaks
that bitter underwater
and a million years of sea-smash
dirt in your eye to dig out.
i am not all nigger:
a black hole crooning in the night
a country song in a deep jukebox
chewed down and rumbling.
so who decides
who belongs here,
which tooth should have been kicked out when.
which hole ought to be filled, this
is what i think:
every city has a country bar.
i am not always so tough when i walk in.
what is rain to the desert
is just another full mouth in some place like portland.
and i wonder if there are niggers here in oregon.
black-out dolls, wet and papery
their mouths full of chalk.
and some of you
don’t go here either
looking for ground to settle
or a place to sit that isn’t soggy and cold. same here.
everything grows damp, eventually.
anything can fall in.
i can put on a bad face, understand.
i can gunload and prostrate. could swallow you whole in any town.
i could keep from throwing the beer bottle, too.
keep from tearing up the green with my teeth.
but can i keep from being silt
from slipping wherever i go
and is everything something to rot
for our eyes to wriggle out of.
but, i am not all guilty.
nor can i be all sea.
this is just
a bone song. one we can both whistle along the skin to
in a skulk drag, down
through the rift.
Originally published in Mead Magazine.
See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.