He says ‘I don’t get it, why are you still a virgin at 24?’
He says ‘I don’t believe you, I’ve seen you walk, virgins don’t walk like that’
He says, ‘That ain’t natural, people are supposed to fuck.’
He asks ‘Why though? No offence though.’
I ask ‘When was your first time?’
He says ‘I was 12’
He says ‘I know what you’re thinking, that’s too young.’
I look at his knuckles, he has two good hands.
He says ‘She was older than me.’
I ask ‘How old?’
And he says ‘It’s better that the girl is older, that’s how I learnt all things I know’
He licks his lips.
I ask again ‘How old?’
He says ‘I could use one finger to make you sob’
I think of my brother in prison and I can’t remember his face.
I ask again ‘How old?’
He says ‘Boys become men in the laps of women, you know?’
I think of my mothers faced lined with her bad choices in men.
He says ‘If you were mine you wouldn’t get away with this shit, I’d eat you for hours, I’d gut you like fruit.’
I think of my cousins circumcision, how she feels like a mermaid, not human from the waist down.
He says ‘I’d look after you, you know?’
I laugh, I ask for the last time ‘How old?’
He says ’34.’
He says ‘She was beautiful though and I know what you’re thinking but it’s not like that, I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man. No one could ever hurt me’.
It must be coming, mustn't it? Churches
and saloons are filled with decent humans.
A mother wants to feed her daughter,
fathers to buy their children things that break.
People laugh, all over the world, people laugh.
We were born to laugh, and we know how to be sad;
we dislike injustice and cancer,
and are not unaware of our terrible errors.
A man wants to love his wife.
His wife wants him to carry something.
We're capable of empathy, and intense moments of joy.
Sure, some of us are venal, but not most.
There's always a punchbowl, somewhere,
in which floats a...
Life's a bullet, that fast, and the sweeter for it.
It's the same everywhere: Slovenia, India,
Pakistan, Suriname—people like to pray,
or they don't,
or they like to fill a blue plastic pool
in the back yard with a hose
and watch their children splash.
Or sit in cafes, or at table with family.
And if a long train of cattle cars passes
along West Ridge
it's only the cattle from East Ridge going to the abattoir.
The unbroken world is coming,
(it must be coming!), I heard a choir,
there were clouds, there was dust,
I heard it in the streets, I heard it
announced by loudhailers
mounted on trucks.
What if everything
were revealed: where I was
last night. You, etc. The rain
is coming down like salad.
My sister's hair
reminds me of my sister
so much I can't
stop looking. Who am I
to have arms? On the plane
one short dream:
a baby so small
it wasn't even human,
just a bouquet
of light with wise
cellular eyes. If losing me
is the worst thing to happen,
your life is still a good life.