When you blow
your nose it’s like
going off, you know? And then
everybody knows, from the
corner store to
Room 109 in the hospital,
you’ve been crying.
God knows I don’t wanna make
but I ain’t got much else to do,
except collect and preserve things: coffee
grounds and change, bus transfers, and
moist Ziploc bags, Super 7 lotto tickets.
And certain things, like tears, well,
you should keep to yourself.
Everyone here knows
prepared to drink too much, are future-
obsessed, always talking about
their time, coming. Not like some folk—
waiting for Jesus is enough.
But not even Jesus would just sit around,
you’re fond of saying.
Through Mum’s curtainless window,
trees do nothing but sag brown tears,
dry in my hand when I
try to touch them. You laugh,
say, “You’re a funny one,”
kiss my cheek,
would I take you out of here,
stop carrying so many dry tears?
“You’ve got to lay it all out,” you said,
“Everything on a card, baby.”
“She’s a gambling kinda lady,”
whenever I mention seeing you in town,
at work where you
shovel men into hazy graves.
“A poker habit. Not your kind, boy.”
But I know your kind. My kind.
Certain things I keep to myself.
You will wait out the stars,
plug into faithless psychic hotlines and
newspaper horoscopes, a daily cross-
information: “Expect a bad-luck
stretch, gossipy co-workers, a secret
revealed.” Ten years of a life
defined by Wal-Mart,
the perimeter of aisle shadows.
“Don’t press your luck,” is all I know
to say to
you these days, though you do not hear,
are empty going in
and out of elevators, my arms, and
dreams that shift on tectonic plates.
Like everyone else here, you shift
between award shows
and murders, union strikes and spring.
And the stars, they don’t move—
just sometimes, disappear.