from (C)OVID'S METAMORPHOSIS, Book the Second

The Story of Phaeton

The Vulcan death grip
was a myth, but somebody 
had to have the nerve to sit pondering
the dark & decide to knock you

cold.  Refulgence, effulgence, stick
a spike in me: I’m done. I’ve been starstruck,
yes, but only when dazzled 
by the little fish that swam in the wake

of the scorpion’s whirl.  What to do
when the allergic reaction gets worse 
despite the Epipen, throat closing around 
the morsel of tenderness? 

I remember my daddy’s big bright car;
the trunk in particular where I’d make
my bed of a summer night
with a soup bone to gnaw on.

I had no bootstraps because I had no boots.
Tough love turns tender 
when cooked at low heat for 50 odd years.
The connective tissue falls away

like the pinions of the infernal legion.
The mind is its own place 
& can make a heaven of hell, but 
when your locked in 

your own brain it can be easy to forget
that it’s bigger on the inside
& full of dull dreams
like a Greyhound bus. 

When I was a child, I wanted to die
in space like a supernova
or a wounded angel--their vacuum 
eyes slurping up 

the available light like a golden strand
of ramen.  Lift the veil 
to find there’s only two eyeballs
on stalks & a squawking 

drive-in speaker hanging 
from its broken neck 
beside a beige Dodge 
Dart.  Forky beheld 

my flaming hair 
as I fell.

Phaeton’s Sisters Transform’d into Trees

Study your Latin even though the exam
is cancelled.  Catalog the dragonflies
& daffodils.  Pull up your own roots 
then whittle them down until they’re useful

as a toothpick, charming as a barking
dog.  When Big Government sends you some money,
it’s time to build a guillotine or at least
make memes about it.  Karl Marx

stares at Julie Christie’s ass while Chicago burns
again on the horizon like the cherry
of a Galoise back when smoking 
would kill you & not going to the store

for a quart of milk.  

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