I Am Dionysus Fresh Out of Rehab
i admit it i’ve never seen a falling star
that isn’t a metaphor. i miss each flicker the way you skirt a train
just in time to pillage what’s left behind: crushed coins
tucked for luck, to flip or plink a tip. whether wishes squeezed
from zinc or blunders looped in home movies, my highs
are contagious as bee stings, so i catch what i can keep.
if Ganymede's story is one of divinity, i am Dionysus fresh
out of rehab—worshippers bent before me with robes reduced to rags,
my thyrsus strewn in some storm drain i can’t reach, honey
crystallized white as a bone wrapped in wilted ivy. Ganny is well-versed
in refusal with a wink, snickering while i fail to snatch
my lonely wand among the grate’s graveyard growing vines & rust.
is there a wrong way to pronounce mock
tail? Ganny seems to relish sketching stories with scorn
each time i try to order. when there are no gods left
to serve, i will serve myself. once, i loved a woman whose crown
now floods the night sky, or so i’m told. i’ve been searching for her
ring of stars to light my way home since my chalice turned green
but i’m stuck still on barstools, kneeling in back alleys
where i tempt myself with even the dust motes that refuse to land.
i’ve granted hands that gave gold to everything
in reach, but what’s the use in any trove when a lover’s mercy
glitters but won’t glow? hell, even immortality
has its limits. born cutting my own teeth on curbs, i’ve never seen
heads actually roll, so i flip the severed crown
flattened in my pocket quick to kiss
my palm before it bounces through the rusted grate
where a glint simmers & i squint to glimpse
a dim spark. a scorched stone. a dying star.
with his producer holding him up, Charlie Parker records “Lover Man” drunk off a quart of whiskey & all the birds find their way home
wake up, beloved. beloved, wake up.
the car alarms are singing again, the white bell
-birds & thrushes tantamount to harmony.
it’s a song i’ve known well, creeping
through my lips like a jewel thief.
i don’t know what to do alone
with all this incredulity, small as a fist
balled in a baby’s mouth. beloved,
you have a brand new face again & i can only afford one
act of kindness toward strangers a day.
i wake at midnight when the vultures arrive to accept
the gristle that slips through God’s fingers. a fine day
for a day full of breakdowns. i will leave behind
earthly matters, slink into my crocodile suit
not of cotton-polyester blend but an actual crocodile
scales bouncing light like mirrors, bona fide diamond
-shaped snout terrifying children along west 4th street.
my zipper is in plain sight. why doesn’t anyone
pull it? it strikes me
i am never this alone when i’m alone.
in a swamp where stones skip
without the pitch of human hands
an Egyptian plover feasts on what’s leftover
in a crocodile’s teeth, a cleansing of past harm
more quid pro quo than mercy. beloved,
my heart is taking up too much space
in my ribs again. it’s the devil
that loves me, a love
as funny as real love. beloved,
the bakery truck is outside again, flour
blooming in the street like a flock, its grace
almost measurable. beloved,
the birds are back again, perched everywhere
within earshot, sopranos synced & sharpened
like frayed wires freshly twined. beloved,
i found my face, clean as the shower drain
in a monastery. i’ve shed enough scales
music like loose change fills our pockets
we can fool any parking meter. let’s tear down
good cheer from the halls
of our high schools, wear shapeless
sheets & haunt open houses, get stuck
on a winning streak, fly someplace
we deserve each other.