A gazillion stars you said were words,
Wrapped in your arms, the flowers you picked
Strewn out into the relentless universe.
You said you would be home by noon.
You said you were not done working at Walmart’s,
Two women named Diane as cashiers.
You bought a package of cigarettes;
You spoke to the woman who spoke Spanish.
I called my mother on the telephone and she
Wrote down special names;
Specific dates and times related to Vietnam.
She said she didn’t like Vietnam War
Didn’t like the old ghosts living in her closet
And shooed them away.
She said it was long past their time.
She said nothing was more flushed than
The familiar face of rage,
Spilled out lonely and naked on dirt rags.
We bought a couple of washcloths at Walmart,
And everything was coming into place.
Her mind was good, and destiny was not done.
She knocked on the doors of nursing homes,
And told us we couldn’t walk,
Couldn’t talk, find things in a lily of the field.
My mind was made up.
I would work on Broadway. I would sing and act
And freshen myself up to live daily,
My mouth pursed slightly, singing
A bad song.
You said you would come to bed.
You said a lot of things.
You were working on your backswing.
You were pacing up and down the stairs.
The house was old and seemed to swallow people.
The house was old and it seemed to swallow horns.
A gazillion stars you said were words.
Broken and plucking on strings.
The stars are pinpoints of eyes.
They are of the old worlds.
The laughter that is beaten dead.
The man that could not find the time to make others
The calmness of it; the other side of the ice,
The earth that spoke to people who listened,
And sighed quietly as the world slept.