Teach Me

The moon can be a knife if you ask it—

you stare and smoke, waiting for heartache

while your skull scratches muscles, wanting out.

A man’s heart always knows when it’s beat.

I doubt I’ll ever know another man

who smokes, drinks, or whores as much as you.

As if those habits weren’t enough you write

because you think there’s still some glamour in it

though you’ve seen the same workshops and stiff shirts as I,

the dried up women years removed from sex

with only verse to keep them warm—and I say

what’s the harm in that, feeling closer to an iced-over clairvoyant

than to you. I’ll teach you to bullshit verse,

if you teach me how to bullshit the world.

And if stars can wretch their bellies out and rest them

on the counter of the local coffee-for-a-dime diner

you can surely learn the way to an academic’s heart.

But it won’t take an academic to know

your tongue belongs in a glass case, hammer

dangling nearby on a string. It won’t take

long for police to come in blue costumes

with ice picks instead of guns, arrest us both.

With cuffs sinister and scissoring into our wrists,

you will ask me who snitched, your face bludgeoned

and bloody, your eye swollen as a plum,

and I will answer poetry. That bitch you call a love.

When you laugh, the pigs will squirm as if tasered in the heart—

A man’s heart knowing when it’s beat.


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