Difficult to figure, like a town named "Moore" with a yellow happy face painted on its gunmetal gray water tower and just slightly fewer pregnant high schoolers than Trans Ams and Camaros. That was their hometown. And on a street like the edge of a postage stamp lost behind the coffee pot for months, torn, and ticked with food particles, they lived. Once, I dreamt I was there of my own accord and glad to see the overweight disco queen—my aunt—who taught me how to read when not washing her own children's “foul mouths” out with the pink foaming action of Mr. Bubble. It was always Saturday Night Fever on Queensbury, and The Bee-Gees sang with a flying whine from their seemingly swollen throats while my aunt and I tried desperately to catch the wasp in an old mason jar. It never landed on the record player’s dust-covered dust cover, and when it stung her, I knew she would die. I can't remember whether this dream was before she actually died or not. Definitely after I learned the meaning of "orgasm" and "fellatio" from her nurse's encyclopedia and fancied myself, through that moment of study, older and wiser though confused like I'd just read the directions to becoming a 33rd degree Mason or for making tiramisù. Still, knowledge is everything, no matter when it comes. Like my aunt, a nurse, knew all along the prescription drugs she abused would harden her lungs to the consistency of some water-logged bracket fungus on a tree. Of course, no one knew then her husband, like Hephaestus with his polio limp and affections of wrought iron, would die watching ESPN while sucking the last bits of life from oxygen tubes in his nose and cigarettes out of a green and blue package suggesting the sea. I'll never forget how well-dressed his undertakers were as they straightened the stiffening body to the gurney's horizontal cut, the man in a charcoal suit and dress shirt with cufflinks, the woman in a sheer white blouse that seemed luminescent and left her cleavage tastefully visible. And now their eldest son dreams inside the same clapboard house of becoming lupine while the hungry mouth of a tumor devours his insides. And their youngest son holds down his house's front porch with sacks of aluminum empties. I'd prefer to pronounce the above as "aluminium" just for the sake of distance. We are maternal blood relatives, and try as I might to uncover my special, royal, paternal dispensation from suicide, arson, sodomy, bestiality, and that simple daftness of the jay-walking kind, I cannot. And lately, after certain trying hours with myself or my two-year-old son, I've been thinking of washing my own mouth out with soap, abusing my wife's prescription veterinary products, or sucking on straw, gravel, or my lip until some gist of what seems like life comes out. Then I take a long walk around our property with its edges frayed like those of an old postcard’s from a distant country showing pigs prized for their ability to sniff out truffles from the earth, and I say, "Merde!" three times real loud, and it is done. I belong to no one.
Timothy Bradford Read Bio Author Discusses Poems
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