I lie in bed trying to make sense of success,
a drooping bloodhound without a path to sense
sniffs out the scarlet letter, drip dripping
a perfect dot to dot, a crossword on paper stacks
of equations and formulas bled from my flesh.
I rise with a mind addled with night, grieve as I pull on the pantsuit
shuffle through work, fly upstate with 2.80 to my name
I pace myself to greet a man hardened by life, by strife
yet there is no mirror in sight, and I fear how much we look alike
my father never did conceal the slant of his smile,
the writhing between fight and flight embrace in his cognac eyes.
He dreams of the war, he cocks his antique rifle
the insignia of death whispers sweetly in my ear
missed by an inch to make a point, I miss it:
The rush of my muddy feet, the cabin’s creaking,
not the sound to make my lungs ache holding my breath
imagine the judgement awaiting heavily approaching footsteps
it was the softness of the wooden brush, its bristles
the firmness of my grandma’s hands, her lucidity
as she spoke of meeting her final lover on the beach in ‘82
rustic marriage of my grandparents, their kept innocence
a home weathered by floods and cracks, miscarriage and death.
Missed me by an inch, God I wish it hit.
The days I had the least of faith kept my love in a jar,
where the coldest of Michigan winters couldn’t freeze it
knee deep in snow, warmth sucked dry, sleeping in my car
I had the most humanity then—
the night before I turned 28
won’t you turn the clock back
to the time I scoffed at moving to L.A?
I mistook desperation as motivation,
a stray dog swaddled by bright lights
howling off-pitch on stages coveted by loiterers and freaks
tucking myself to sleep with scratched off lottery tickets
I can hear the gloating in my father’s voice:
Look at the disappointment I knew you’d always become.
Take me back to when I knew nothing of this chemical rush,
a stranger to the faceless woman’s steely touch, metal nails digging in
head lolling as I try to utter my name, realize I’ve begun to forget.
Bullet missed me by an inch, but this time I’ll make sure it hits.