LETTER TO SO-AND-SO FROM WHEREVER
Hey, what you said to me was inappropriate—
explicit graffiti scrawled on a temple wall
barked as slam poetry at the funeral
of an orphaned 9-year-old leukemia victim….
But perhaps you’re not to blame—
lately I’ve been intolerant of everything:
my empty, empty mailbox,
the voiceless planets, even my own skeleton,
whose grin I find galling.
I’ve considered punching out my own teeth
and mailing them to you—your city
which has never been bombed.
It’s chilly here, not that you care
where I am, or how chaos theory gurgles
in my kitchen sink—how the rickety towers
of plates could crush me. You couldn’t
imagine where I am
if I shoved a globe down your throat
and the globe settled in your womb
and next spring you gave birth to a geography whiz.
Hint: no coconut trees, no igloos.
Hint: interstates strung like attic cobwebs
between the city’s poles.
I’m somewhere in the middle, a place
as middling and boring as you found me—
my disinterest in eco-feminism,
in sweaty bus rides to the Capitol,
in vegan tirades, in weed.
I want to call you the hippest
dirty names, but I’ve been idling
in a non-specific mood.
The good news is, I kind of like this
non-specific glowering in your direction.
The bad news is, it’s moral—
I mean as a dilemma—
to ask my students to knock off
their bloody over-generalizing.
Their sleepy spittle will be the end of civilization!
Their children will be little amorphous blobs!
But gin-soaked at noon,
I told them what you said to me,
and they gasped, so I gave them all A’s.
Their collective gasp sounded like atoms
splitting, but without the mushroom cloud and fire
and shadows blasted into temple walls.
There are no temple walls here,
despite the many temples.
I can’t explain how this works,
but I can’t explain lots of things:
how your cat will live to be 100
like my senile, broken-hipped great-grandmother,
how vowels drop like pinballs
from your flapping tongue, drop
straight through the Earth….
I turned what you said to me into haiku.
Having no pastoral Japanese river handy,
I floated them along a gutter
pregnant with rainwater.
I turned what you said to me into origami
sparrows, then crumpled them
because they were too specific,
and in that crumpling I heard your voice—
like a bird’s, wings crushed—whistling
above my crumpled, crumpled city.