Phone Call

Drunken momentum buoys us blindly
on whiplash winds into uncharted territory
lands of strange calendars, blank white pages
tracking time in tractless geography
the ring of the messenger, howling
electric storm along the wire
a still-life mannequin hand
inches above the telephone
frozen in perpetuity
terror hammer
beats the bell
eastbound sun scorches oceanward windows
fingers twitch into motion
and snatch the receiver to the ear
blood inspiralling to the beat’s increase
unhinged sorrow on the line
a wail barely contained behind the wavering voice
a voice burned, never to be forgotten
until it is passed along, released
only when pulled like a thorn from a paw
from the cold meat of my brain
and given emotional word, renewed
to haunt another, but for now
it is mine, and it is either odd or sad
that for me, I hardly remember her
but that call – the sound of agonized grief
betrayed yet again by mortality
our brief stay in this place
where our days line up on a numbered grid,
militantly regulated
too much to bear in the full technological world
of high resolution digital maps
where every tree and gloomy alley
stands exposed and nothing is strange, black or mystery
except those frightening roads inward
that lifetimes must be spent blocking off, shoring up,
erasing, dynamiting bridges into personal history
it’s where it all leads, ultimately
to that phone call and that voice
speaking: overdose, needles, blackened spoons
all the ingredients needed to burn
the atlas of the world complete
leaving for us, ashes and wonder –
wondering over our inability to see the signs
to read the track marks
on the veiny trail
on the wilderness road to
a head in the kitchen trash
panicked, sunk and wretched
in her final need to vomit the treacheries of her past
like a malignant fetus growing at the expense of her
ever-diminishing soul,
granting release, a last unsteady breath like a song
dropping the phone, letting it dangle there
from the wall – busy signal screaming
until even it gives up everything to silence


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