Stuck in the back-bone, the barbed hook hurts. Please
help me, I say. I phone someone. I'm being
attacked, I say. Someone's taking photos
of me. Someone else is piercing my ribs
with an outsized fishing hook, trying to
hoist me like a circus geek. Elsewhere,
people are looking away, are drinking
Champagne or Chardonnay or whatever gah.
They're not looking. They're not seeing. Donwanna.
Watch them sniff when they come around here.
Where they live, no two bedrooms share the same
sheets, beds go unslept-in, nothing under
500 K, nothing shared, nothing touches
anything else. Peas here. Swordfish there.
Delicacies. Real estate. My ribs hurt
from being targeted. Their talk trails off.
Wine glasses appear in their lives like the
reverse of bruises, like gemstones, like
something they've been awarded. I dial again.
No one answers. Donwanna. Maybe they're
off-roading in their safe, new vehicles,
maybe they're strolling under the green
linden leaves contemplating investments.
I am a man called horse to them, strung up
and out. I ask them if they hear the curses,
if they remember the kid from High School
who died while tilting a vending machine,
who died defending himself with a brick.
What do they tell their hairdressers? Nothing
and everything. (Look! It's not like it meant
anything, they say. Main Street was gorgeous,
they say. The sunset stirred my cocktail, it
smelled like cedar trees, I was helpless
to resist it, they say.) What do they know?
What do they know of helpless? Of bruises
blueblack over the bones from being knocked
down Grouse Mountain? How helpless they are
to admire the new necklace of diamonds,
to master the ski runs lit up at dusk.
Look at me, I say, look at where this fishhook
catches my ribcage. (No one is looking.)
Look at where my side becomes gills, blood-red,
deep as fake rubies, as snake-berry stains
on white jeans, red mouth gawping for air,
gawping for help by the dumpsters behind
Wholefoods. (No one comes.) Broken gin bottles,
hear me! Send word to Doctor Vardaman:
I am a swordfish at last; I am hooked.
Lying on my side, I am drowning
in air, one fisheye trained on the skyline,
the diamond-like rings of sunlight glinting
off the new towers, striking like tiny
crystals ripping the tissue inside me.
Is it curtains? Do I want Korean food?
In the realm of lowest common denominators,
dying ranks very high; Kim-chi less so.
Well well well, look who isn't practicing
his violin tonight. Look who's getting his
picture taken, whose phone is evidence.
It's nothing new. A woman holding a white
wine glass turns her head and sees a raven
eating swordfish straight from the recycle bin.
I leap from the water. She alights on the branch.
What is the sum of 8 and 9:
It's your turn! Move into the poem. Renovate it. Knock down its walls. Put your spin on it. Make it your own.