Nobody is loading a shotgun because
the hardware store has accused nobody
of illegal dumping. The cul de sac
is absent of a shape tearing beer cans
in half, a voice swaddled to empty lung
by a winter night,
is this what you want is this what you want
The airedale terrier across the alley
no longer labors in breathing.
Most passerbys begin to wave back,
say to the new neighbor, once
there was a ghost here. For real.
I saw it there. And there.
The rumor is that nobody would sit motionless
in a black sedan overnight during the freeze,
open french doors in the morning as if
they were clearing brush from a trail,
and walk their knife around the block.
The mountain hemlock that lined the sidewalk
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody blamed them anyway.
The houses shawled in yellows and pinks
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody haunted them anyway.
The basement nobody lived in was a mausoleum
the size of a father. The good man who used to live
there was smothered in his sleep during the wildfires.
Some say he lives again, drinks iced tea while mowing,
always looks like he wants to apologize to strangers.
He rolls the garbage out, stands there, listens
to the neighbors walking up and down the stairs.
DIY Wishing Machine
Set aside several empty drawers,
so many of those little coffins,
a whole chest of them.
Unscrew a pair of cymbals from that drum kit
you never bothered learning to play.
The wiring won’t have to be up to code,
but blockade your front door before proceeding.
Fill drawers with those letters and photographs
you refuse to throw away. Contemplate
an eventual stillness for every hand
responsible for making them. Place
drawers stacked inside a dark closet
to let them breathe. Attach positive terminal
to top cymbal, negative to bottom.
Find a cassette recorder that hasn’t
been touched for at least twenty years,
and begin recording over whatever tape
is inside without reviewing it first.
Form a wired connection as follows:
cymbals to recorder to closet.
Lie flat, place head between two cymbals.
Concentrate on the most hidden of all things.
Invisible thing. Colorless thing. Allow
no harshness of the face. Raise your right hand,
and begin the first stroke of an autopsy.
Donate to a tax-deductible charity organization.
Raise your left and build a palace of mirrors.
Do not be alarmed if you hear the sound
of an engine turning over, or a quarry
full of dynamite. There, that point of light,
be distracted by it instead. Your memory
will snow. Watch your footing. One thing
and another are now colored things.
You can now allow yourself to be afraid.
Your liver is failing. Your children will
have a twenty-five percent chance of being born
with a rare congenital disorder. Nobody will ever
raise a toast to you again. Feel this sink in
and harden into the trunk of the body, you beautiful
son of a gun. Goddamn, you’re looking so fine,
you have any plans tonight, sweetness?
Do not turn yourself down or stand yourself up.
Politely reschedule if necessary. Raise
your left leg; make note of the prophecy
that arrives to mind later. Raise your right,
and ignore this instruction. Something’s here
or just beginning to hear. Thinking thing.
Wishing thing. Marry your genitals to beauty.
Keep in time with the lub-lub, lub-lub that now
heaves into the cymbals. Dwell here. Move everything
from your apartment into this space. Tidy up.
Wait for a shortness of breath, and then speak.
Speaking to the Lady of the Lake at the Koi Pond in Moscow City Park, Idaho (2:30 AM)
Moths can smell the kind of drunk that likes
through the baking streetlamps
and the figure rising from the water
says lend me a mirror
i say no because you’re going to say
this is a dead mother thing
like every other dead mother
thing i fill drawers with: binoculars,
pocket magnifying glass from a sewing kit,
widowed spectacles; which, if you wear,
do feel removed somehow
says let me initiate your sojourn
or whatever it is
you need women to do
i say i’m not looking for healing
i’m not going to try and heal you
says none taken
i say my secrets are limited to
knowing the moths must be
cold tonight and
it’s slowing them down.
says you make jokes in the morning
i say yeah
says you’re very intent on staying out of that drawer
i say stranger things are happening
says tell me about it
and brushes her hair with a heron’s beak
i think about cold wings going colder
and my favorite doorways
the ones i had to stop in
to reach back, take the temperature
of the threshold
i say do you mind if i crash here
says i want to hear a joke in the morning
i say me too
and lean into my coat collar
drifting, but thinking
a moth walks into a bar
and can smell the wander on itself.
Nat(e) Fisher is a poet, musician, and educator from rural southern Illinois. He graduated with his MFA in Poetry from the University of Idaho-Moscow in 2016 and currently teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Photo: Wil Amani