It is the crumbs from yesterday's toast scribbling
a poem on the floor, which the ants will read and forget.
It is Van Gogh's irises tangled on a Get Well card
I addressed near the end but never sent.
It is twenty Madonnas by Jan Gossaert on twenty 37 cent
stamps: spider veins of holy halo-fire.
It is the spider in the corner, the eight-eyed Theridion,
who is my doppelganger disguised.
It is the fly I wrote about once in a failed sonnet.
It is Joyce who believed her dead son came back
to her faithfully every year as a fly.
It is a dead friend's book of poems, published
It is the booze and the nightlife's dead batteries.
It is two contact lenses down the drain at a Motel 6
and the almost-spiritual searching.
It is one car's headlights making owl eyes late
at night in the poem's rain.
It is the silent tick of the final nanosecond of the last long hour
of the last short day.
We are made of billboards
and exhaust. We herd traffic,
tend parking meters where
sycamores used to be. We tell
stories of how, all at once,
the starlings fell out of our dusks.
The streetlights blink alive, lit
tulips on painted stems, blotting out
the stars. Rats creep out along the levee,
through the tangle of wild grape,
and the river's shine drags past
the tourist shacks in Old Town.
Then sirens begin, searchlights
climb down., and helicopters
circle like old gods.
The two of us look up-
my mother from her wheelchair, I
from two good feet, carbon
copies of hers
to spot the bird preening
outside in a hospital laurel,
whose crisp music snaps her
from stroke's stupor.
Her own unsteady babble
is a kind of warble
her Broca brain's muddled
The sparrow's song squeezes in
where words no longer fit,
into her heart's blue gnarl,
its baffled nest.