My neighbor drinks too much.
He shoots squirrels in his back
yard and he misses a lot,
tearing up chunks of pebbles
and fresh mown lawn. Then he
shouts across the yard at me:
Biggest goddamn rat I’ve ever seen!
Al drove truck from Tuy Hoa
to Nha Trang, highway one, eleven
months out and back, the shooting gallery.
Then he came home hard, already an old
man, so he could beg for work in his fat
Katie’s a combat nurse,
she works the emergency room, weekends,
at Holy Spirit. Al takes it easy, feet up,
front of the flatscreen with his football
in HD, the dog and his cold Yuengling.
Dead bottles line up like body bags
in the sink, rats scurry under the deck
out back. Al couldn’t sleep a wink those days,
sweating amphetamines and beer at sunrise
on the South China Sea, slipping into the long
haul, gear by gear, through the putrid air.
All those rats everywhere, the sawed-off pump
up on the front seat, Old Jim Beam, proud
as a paratrooper on the dash board, and a not
a goddamn thing a good man could do about any of it.
In the eyes of the goat we discover
an apartment overlooking the sea
not far from Barcelona. Like drawing
water from an ancient well not far
from here, or to walk through the dream
of a dying woman who reinvents herself
in your memories. The camera used to be
my friend, but now I look like my father
at a bad time in his life. Photographers
don’t understand these things; they focus
on light and shadow, texture and ambience,
they prefer a good mood to a complex
situation, like 21 grams, the weight they
say the body looses after death.
In other words, the weight of the human
soul. The human brain weighs 1.5 kilograms,
but I prefer to write while listening
to the music of Arvo Pärt.
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