the rules of brotherhood
Every car on the road tonight
forgoes its blinker for the chance
at godhood and us drivers
are too old to do anything
but stick thorns in our
thumbs, suck slow blood,
and make the music louder.
In a dark car slick with a rain-heavy
sky, we remember the rules
of brotherhood: For the cost
of the silver coating
our tongues, we can buy all the ammunition
we need for that inevitable
conversation about who
is hated more by the past.
Quick answer: yes, but
when we can no longer stand
the silence of realizing
we've been driving this stretch
of wet road for most likely forever,
our eyes will marble into old
Greek statues and our arms
will snap off like keys
in a lock.
train come by, motherfucker
the poet yells
this at his reading, as a train
tumbles by the living room,
shaking the rocks of us. if
you're lucky enough,
you don’t have to be good.
it’s top hat weather
under the tracks, and
a cure is stuck in the mud
beneath the horsecart,
picnicking in the shade of the past,
hidden under the cushions
on stepdaddy’s speedboat
as it floats alone in the river locks.
this is dog-walking sky color water glass lung belly
weather and even the polish woman who
watches to make sure i pull
all the dog shit out of her lawn
wonders why i don’t want kids.
i’m just so disappointed
in the potentiality of them, in their
thousands of letters, their inability
to purpose themselves.
i don’t want their grubbiness
evidenced in the lack of time
for laundry, for jacking off,
for the god damned dishes.
when the computer crashes,
i care like a piece of fruit cares
about going brown.
it’s weather like this we go driving
at night with the windows
down, seat-pissing in a storm
of clacking teeth-lined railways
and the champ-champ of unsnowing
boots. let’s a/c baby, let’s freon frenzy,
let’s animal-out, go poisoning,
get writhing and moaning in the woods.
the forest floor is an orgy
of mammal and shadow, the moon
has no face. in the back
of the car, margot yells at the wolves
to shut the fuck up, but she’s just
one more howl crossing a night
made of ghost feet. it’s headlight weather
and i pop
the trunk. all my old
band’s cds finally
fall out and crash into the road,
and we watch them turn to hooves,
blossom a little stampede. margot asks,
a penny for your thaws? for your
weather alphabet? for your train car centipede
and the movies that ruin words?
i turn off the engine and get all rhetorical
about still moving while in neutral:
do you know what an eyeball is?
i draw her face in its perfect
sepia-tones. we round without
a table, leave no milk for the cat,
and no one can rhyme a fruit bowl
to a chemo wig or play a whole game
of duck, duck, noose. i’m cheeky
because i hurt and no,
don’t worry, it’s totally cool dude,
let’s talk about you being
someday, i’ll get shoved hard
enough to stumble, and gravel
will taste like a fenced-in forest,
with branches growing through
the chainlink, just like the old joke
about the chickens on the roof of the fox
house. cluck cluck, motherfuck.
it’s mammal weather tonight,
a fur-lined fury, and i’m train-
ed to eat eggs with abandon,
but this is breast milk city, soy
bean shoulder shrug, and we’ve got weather
enough to look up
into the sky like a farmer
starting a sentence with it might.
we got stop and go pedals but
nothing for the in-between except
judgment. poor little foals.
let’s issue a recall on gravity,
the kicking out of stools. margot
majored in neck theory, with a minor
in sailor’s knots. i coasted
on brimstone and mountain dew, wrote
a book and moved to salem. witches burn,
bitches worm, and jesus christ ate
ten times as much as any normal man.
sin, sin go away; we can either pray
or kill the devil out of you.
the best part about
an infinite universe is that
everyone’s been aborted somewhere. imagine,
whole worlds free of your bullshit
attitude, johnny. i'm only a radio
station there, turned up in a car on a dark road
through a nameless forest with prairie burn
weather spilled across speartip skies.
you are there and you are there
and the tornados all live in canada
and margot will reach out with her long
healthy fingers and grab the volume knob
while every throat clears
itself of survivable doses of radiation
and shiny new rust and waits
for the part of the song that anyone
would wait forever for,
like a train.
JEFFREY ALLEN is the author of two chapbooks, bone and diamond (H_NGM_N Books 2013) and Simple Universal (Bronze Man Books 2007), and holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His poems, reviews, and interviews can be found in or are forthcoming from Bodega, Forklift Ohio, Handsome, H_NGM_N, RHINO, smoking glue gun, and elsewhere. He serves as the Educational Outreach Coordinator for H_NGM_N Books and Poetry Editor forphantom limb.