Sneak Peek of When the Dead Get Mail: “Flowers from Saturn” and “Interpreting”

Check out this sneak peek of a poem from When the Dead Get Mail, coming in January 2019!

Pre-Ordering ends November 16th. Get yours here!

 

Flowers from Saturn

I paint each of you, love
Neptune’s lesser known dark spot, feel
Pluto’s chill in the corner of my
bedroom, near a thousand asteroid
eyes of the stuffed animals placed inside
a milky way net. The solar system
hangs from my ceiling, plastic
and precisely measured. Sirius glows
green through putty-stuck stars.

Mercury and Mars break my heart.

I search the spackled skies at night for where
my real parents might be, tucked in some
lonely part of the galaxy.

I sneak into the back yard, find Venus
with a stolen telescope, feel home just beyond
my grasp—just this flimsy atmosphere caging me
like an eyelash trapped beneath
a contact lens.

My mother is there. She has to be. She died
in some space dogfight that no one
could win, even though my father tried
to stop her.

He would bring her flowers
from Saturn. I imagine my father loving her
so much that he left me here, unable

to bear her likeness.

 

 

 

Interpreting

I

He clung to her legs,

arms wrapped tightly as roots

choking the ground, and begged

for hicken,

 

can we have it, please,

please,

 

boy drug across the tile

floor of the kitchen, while she stared

into a refrigerator

 

coated with smears of ketchup

and a long, thin Coca Cola

stain that branched out

into the little fridge ridges like

his small, grasping fingers.

 

I’m parvin’.

 

II

 

He don’t know nothin’ ‘bout talkin’.

 

My mother would tell the

raccoon-eyed woman

every night,

the one with the glamour shot hair

who lived behind the bar.

 

My younger brother and I

let our feet dangle

against the rail

that kept the stools from bashing

the clean

polished wood front.

 

He talk real dutchie.

 

We kicked each other beneath the

whiskey-holding overhang,

kicked ‘til our shins bruised.

 

 

III

 

It took me until I was ten to realize

the Dutch were surely all drug addicts—

the song in the car

sang to us, saying

 

pass the dutchie ‘pon the left-hand side—

 

but still I wondered

how you could hold my brother’s

broken speech

in your hands and pass

it along, like gossip, or something

you could tinker with.

 

Our older brother was the one

who finally sat us down

for the talk.

 

You dump the tobacco first

 

and then add everything else,

Ryon said,

rolling it around, tongue lolling

against paper

like our St. Bernard did in the back yard

with the garbage.

 

You gotta get it wet

with spit

so it sticks.

 

You’re good at this.

 

 

IV

 

Back then,

I wanted to help,

 

so I looked at my mother—

square in the eyes—

my feet rooted to the tile floor,

fingers braided

with my brother’s.

 

He wants chicken. He is hungry.

 

It became a talent.

 

I’m good at this.

 

 

V

 

Well howdy, Parvin’

I’m your dad,

our father would say, and

and laugh

and shake

my brother’s hands as tears rolled

down his small face.

 

He is hungry.

 

We fought with swords in the

cramped bedrooms—sticks sharpened

to points, old two

by fours from the dump wrapped

and attached

with vines for hilts.

 

His face glowed with excitement

as he screamed hoard fight!

and came at me,

 

birch tip

aimed to eye,

hands rubbed raw from

poison ivy vines.

 

 

VI

 

We went to fucky hicken

one night

to have some of the Colonel’s finest.

 

I played in my mashed potatoes,

told our parents that

chocolate squirrels

were ice cream and that

I was parving too.

 

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