I Sing the Body Radioactive
It’s horrible how the hormone factory
Still has not come through on the pavilion
They promised to build out back for the limp
& little-hearted managers, for those that goddamit,
Love their freedoms so hard they scream themselves
Purple. The folks who hate their lives with
Every fiber of their being have become thick
As thieves with the wheezers who burn down
Two packs of Parliaments a day because they
Agree that something just ain’t right
With the perfect blue of the sky. Until the edifice
Is complete, the not-feeling contests continue
Taking place over the lunch hour, right beyond
The parking lot on the beach of the manure pond.
There, my colleagues make small talk, bedazzle
Cinderblocks with puffypaint, glitterglue & wrench
American flag stickers from each other’s nipples.
All of them are thrilled, jumping jacking & giddy
Before bobbing headfirst into the old hot tub
That slumps in the muck like the skull of some
Ancient all-mouth monster. They hold their breath
Until blacking out or being declared the winner.
There’s shouting, butt slaps. Sure there is a lot
Of turpentine, ox blood & vaping, but mostly
It is cavernous belly buttons & pendulous neck
Wattles. After they go, I belly crawl from the office,
Snake outback over the pavement & tip toe up the fire
Escape to the roof. All day, I stare at the sun, wonder
If anyone really cares about anything at all anymore.
One day, I forced myself not to look away & it came
To me like a needle in the eye: the climate of cruelty
We live in is rooted in our failure to really know
How to chew through one’s own forearm, to welcome
This gristle & goo into us like a bro-bro. This new
Understanding stunned me frozen. Before long,
A syrupy darkness coated the sky into night. My legs
Vanished in that bottomless black & the bosses’ shouts
Sirened away. Sometime later I woke, still standing,
Sweating beneath the huge moon that floated
Just inches out of my reach. I said hello to it’s blinding
Light, said I hoped things had been good since our last
Visit. The moon shushed me with a flash of light
So bright each particle of dead things that I am made o
Of jangled furiously: Dinosaur, caveman, carcass & dirt,
A gang of monkeys. Lucy. Every follicle on my body
Was still twanging electric as it whispered. Secret
After secret: most of you & me & everyone is
An orphan found in a stall of a high school bathroom
Everyone else is the half of conjoined twins that barely
Survived the cutting. I couldn’t take it all in.
When I came to, blinking into the searing morning
Light I couldn’t remember a thing & a majestic
Graveyard sprawled around me on the roof.
I climbed the tallest mausoleum, tick-tocked my legs
Back & forth over its edge that dropped all the way
To the pavement where I parked my bike.
When I looked down my head spun. I slipped
My tennis shoes off, tracked their plummet until
Hundreds of feet into their twirling freefall
I saw that some heartless bastard had spent all night
Dropping fish from the invisible building that must
Be built on this building. As if it couldn’t get any
Worse, I looked up for some salvation & saw two
Meteorites hurtling groundward. As I thanked all
The crooning angels around me in advance
For sparing me from the smite of the space rocks,
I heard all the parking lot below start to fill with shouts,
The slamming doors’ of the supervisors’ Mercedes.
I stared at them the flaming space rocks almost
The whole way down, looked away just as one mashed
Into the lake of shit. The day suddenly turned
Into a python rending its way out of another python.
I felt lips grazing my ear, blowing tickling air into it.
Into it & the answers from the night before smacked
Me wide eyed. There was only one way I could
Survive the pointless cruelty of this world any
Longer: a survivalist’s assortment of masks—
So many that winter will give way to spring
Before I have to wear one for the second time,
& I saw them all orbiting like flies in the air
Around me: Moses, Chocolate Thunder. Lady
Di, The Mole Man & The Man Mole. The Tramp,
Teddy Roosevelt, Swamp Thing & a Unabomber one
That when whipped inside out make me into
The Toxic Avenger. Elvis. Mother Theresa, Muddy
Waters & Manute Bol. Godzilla & A bleedy looking
Apostle that at first I thought was a Chupacabra.
Iron Man & a Barn Owl, Peach Head & a gigantic
Grinning rat. Richard Nixon & one plain John
Doe motherfucker I couldn’t name. Grape Ape,
The Moon Man, OJ, Elvira & JFK. Old Yeller,
Che & Tiger. Skunk. Block of cheese. Bald eagle.
Dr. J., Honest Abe & Buffalo Bill. A puffy
Marilyn Monroe, Willie Mays & Winnie the Pooh.
Fredrick Douglas, Dr. Kevorkian, MLK & one that
Is one side the Burger King & the Hamburgler
On the other. Willie Nelson, Wig Face & one
Enormous & Anatomically correct vibrating heart
Face with wheezing valves. & they kept coming,
So many masks to count & count, but always more.
Chicken Head. Charles Lindbergh. Lucy Lawless.
Finally, I was able to clamber back down, to slip
Into work where in my cubicle castled with boxes
Of masks, there is no finish to the mindless work,
To the stapling & collating & filing for some great
Administrator outside who’d rather drown in a tub
Of STD water than explain what the real purpose
Of all this work is. Outside, the howls of the bacchanal
Of conspiracists in the crater outside. But here
It is like Groundhog’s Day—each time I walk out
The sliding glad door, I wake & it is night in the bone-
Yard above. Always, I am sickly sheened with slime
That has the tiniest whiff of the sublime, but more so
Stinks like a tunafish sub found months later beneath
A Car seat. I want to know where the night goes so I try
To journey to the other side of the necropolis but
There are shadow hiding animals that follow me two
By two. Dread turns me back before I find its end
If it ever does. Now, the nights are getting cold, freezing
My lips to the plastic lips of the mask. During these
Long walks, I have come to realize that I am not a handsome
Animal but I love with all the grit in my ugly body.
Again & again the night happens & now I am
Pretty much open to anything. Might cut off an ear. Might
Start digging everone up. I can never do enough
But I will never stop—wearing my masks, typing
Up forms. Urging the colleagues in the office
To rise up, to a stare the bright star willowing
In the afternoon sky until they know what kind
Of manimal has burrowed a home inside them.
Just today, I sharpied new shirts for all of us:
In case of emergency, each says, Shatter my nose