The Ordinary Pattern of a Sexton Beetle
The first time he saw you naked,
his lips blew back and a cemetery of children
poured from his tongue. He barked at your breasts
like a lunatic. His heart, remembering its
youthful mechanics, ka-thumped like an unstuck gear.
When I walked in on the two of you, I thought:
Look at how he grips her waist,
like a crook holding a television.
The newspapers ran photos of your small shoes,
waiting by a pile of dirt. The detectives
let me collect the parts I knew to be yours,
the crowned ribcage. The perfumed
wrists of fading stars.
After forty-one years, eager journalists
and would-be brides still cram into his cell.
They take pictures of themselves at witty angles,
standing beside him standing beside a life-sized
hole in the ground. Every night, before bed,
he removes his top hat and speaks to the stones
in the ceiling:
Do you see this? This hole I have dug?
I can throw anyone I want into it.
Where the Sister Steps in and Bakes the Man into a Cake
I knew it the moment I met him:
his hands were damp as cellars
and he had the breath of a shoe salesman.
I saw how women moved around him―
a house of dizzy dolls. An ambulance of need.
Always be suspicious of a man who dismisses every woman:
Oh, her? She’s all cracked up.
That one? I love her like a stepsister.
I only met her once. We were alone for six minutes.
Of course this song was written only for you, I’m not even sure
if that’s my baby.
What I Never Wrote
was how you begged me to keep it.
But you were never home, and I was
but didn’t want to be. And by then
you had become a man smaller than a man.
So I thought it away. I closed my eyes one night
and dreamt it out of me. And the next day, you knocked
on the bathroom door. And you charged in
and I stood and pointed. I said, Look at that.
And you asked, Is that?
And I said, Yes.
And you said, Oh,
and then you
shaved off your beard.
Rachel McKibbens is a 2007 New York Foundation For The Arts Fellow and the author of Pink Elephant (Cypher Books, 2009.) Her poems, short stories and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, The Nervous Breakdown and H_ngm_n. She is currently writing a memoir while holed up in upstate New York with her gigantic family. http://www.rachelmckibbens.com
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