Among the Many

My failed fish poem — its cabana-clothed creatures
in bold stripes and yellow bull’s-eyes
like a zoot-suited underground,
My failed lament for the woman dumping her trash
off the side of the road, finding in the rain-slick ravine
my friend’s body, half his face blown off,
My failed elegy for my aunt, whose head ticked
like a frightened clock, for the lidless green eyeballs
she swallowed for breakfast, dinner, lunch,
My failed dog poem, prison poem, mass grave
and sparrow poem —

Those little prayers without wings, no blood —

Those electric blue bodies with yellow lips and fins,
those red prison stripes freely swimming in and out,
That woman finding my friend’s one shocked eye staring up
through egg shells and bacon rinds like the land itself
having waited all night for her trash bags
to hit the ground and burst into a shriek,
My aunt with her sand paper laugh and shot liver —

Draft after draft, the words pile up,
till what’s beyond words gets smothered, crushed —

My lost dog poem, prison poem, mass grave,
sparrow poem —

May they exist somewhere uncrumpled, —
each fallen bird, each glaring skull and chained body
somewhere found and counted,
in that place where nothing is wasted.

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