[Table of Contents]


Tom Christopher



This time he woke up a cyborg. He remembered his arm on a silver tray, gloves, fingers in his stomach, fingers behind his eyes. They took everything out but it's okay, he now has a job to do. Urgent: soup burning, daughter lunges for window. Urgent: club-footed boy wandered past the highway. Look up, the constellations are a hundred million triangles. Satellites soar by. Inside his head, coils of telephone lines. A few times he's found himself among the aisles of a supermarket, realizing he no longer eats. Only once did he remember the feel of grass on his back, the steaming expanse of your shoulders holding back the night. Now he can see so fast the camera shoots in slow motion: bullets whirr by like grasshoppers; inside your kitchen the tea drips like syrup. I should not be here, he says. He is trying not to look. Under the skin it is all mathematics, he says. Molecules colliding with molecules and the glacier-like heaving of your chest.


If you think you can do any better
here, take this lung, take this heart.
I should warn you, however, there are
moments infected within these cells—
somewhere nested between my cucumber
salad recipe and the word alluvium
is my roommate on the phone, her father
playing Johnny Cash into the receiver,
talking about $10,000 model trains and
she has both hands on the phone and
inside of her chest there is a pile
of dishes tipping. At these moments
you could place your hand on her shoulder
or drive for hours to see turtles kissing
the surface of the water but it's too late,
already a part of your DNA. These days
there will be phones and on the other end
will be people held together with tape.
He is talking now about the perfect green lawn
but actually it is a memory within a memory
and outside there is dancing, good news
from the war on gingivitis. Even clouds
with fire extinguishers to make sure
everything doesn't get out of hand.
She is a crumpled ball of newspaper
in the middle of the floor. I curve around
her back, my cheek cool on the base
of her neck. This is the way of the molecule
which I studied in Coldsprings. The communication
between two shapes curled around each other.
At this size, any sound will blow everything
into smithereens. They say it is true that our
chromosomes shorten daily which means
in years to come we may be free of all this,
or someday the few genes that distinguish
us from a puffer fish will be gone but
that's not surprising anybody.
The other night my skin woke up screaming.
It realized for years it's been sleeping
on piles and piles of bones.


Zeus just vaporized the last walnut tree
in my back yard. Lightning comes
from the ground up which puts
a new spin on Greek mythology.
Electrons leaping from the ground,
flowers leaping from the ground,
but not the groun—a pet store, a sea
anemone. Somehow it helps explain
the heart to see such a hungry, muscled
thing waving behind glass. Everyone
I know has broken up, including
the girl at the pet store. Hugs all
around. Puppies screaming, "Look
at me, look at me." And her, sweeping
up litter, carrying on in that brown shirt.

I have discovered cave drawings
in my aorta, the deer on fire,
spear in clouds, the god
with a bird for a heart. On the porch
we let winter out of bottles,
laugh too loud, too distant.
A pack of hyenas. Giraffes
swaying in the wind. A drumming
we can't explain. Let's take a walk
in the fog, pants plastered
with dew. The branches
bursting with leaves which
reminds me of birds, reminds me
of you. Tonight I would like to stand
in a clearing my palms lifted
upwards without the pine trees
snickering. In the morning

we haul the couch to the curb, spine
broken, Daniel shouting, "Not
yet, it's spring, everything
is coming back to life." So now
we are just standing, our hands full. A car
drives by in slow motion and suddenly
I've got to get back to the pet store,
see all manner of small, furry things
racing in wheels. My bike can hardly
hold me. It is beautiful out. The brown
birds crackle into the sky.



Try as I might, I can never get the biology out of my poetry. Better to just let it run its course. Similarly with relationships. Thus these poems were born and grew and chewed a hole though my new box of Rice Krispies ®. Sometimes it's hard not to feel like some caveman bellowing out into the night. Not really, but nothing I say is ever accurate.