local nova drafts » New York Life Insurance Company
There is a river that roams through a town.
♫ Roll forever in and out, Nisqually. ♫
♫ Under all your shooting stars. ♫
Nisqually and the tectonics beneath her pulse loiter.
♫ Pour forever, old girl. ♫
♫ Pour until the stars go out. ♫
The sky can enter the sinus then infect to encephalitis.
♫ Pour, pour until you are dry, ♫
♫ until the wind takes up every pummice fish bone. ♫
New York Life insures the workers of a twelve-mile radius
near Holiday Valley’s sunken horses. The architecture
of 1853 contains manual labor. The architecture of 1925
is of a Craftsman house.
A dormer overlooked the epicenter where fission occurred.
The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout.
The dormer is no longer there and its house is gone.
Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.
A contrail preceded the spark, a prelude of daylight at midnight.
Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain,
Like a comet transporting a star; how many payments
must New York Life make from the radius of 12 miles
assuming the beneficiaries were elsewhere at the time–
and the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.
The architecture must be documented. The architecture
on each block, row by row, burnt away.
Low, gentle sloping roofs.
The louvers concealed a fear in a child’s State Fair hands
of balloons slipping free and floating away.
The incandescent balloons like deep sea fish,
roofs darkened on one side by landing military aircraft exhaust,
the shoebox in a closet holding a dictation one feared
would be stolen and exploited by bullies. Leave diaries at home.
At school they will be stolen.
Attics and dormers.
We could see down the street from the window.
The cotton street lamps came on at dusk in fog
and went off in the morning.
There was a house the neighborhood girls
were scared to pass.
One said, look in my eyes and tell me I am lying.
She was there; in the window or on the porch,
the old woman in the backyard when we walked down the alley.
Her eyes were like a cipher. I saw them move as
stones in her windows. They focused on us outside
moving down the alley. The eyes of a prey bird.
Wide eaves above a deep porch with square pillars.
Watching cars go by. Watching a red light flash
on top of a neighborhood radio tower.
In Tacoma we bought caskets at Harkness Furniture and
moved them here to cool. These conditions are silent now.
We had a conversation about the electricity
powering those lights and hospitals,
schools, garages, drive throughs.
If we were put under for surgery and the power went out
the surgery would surely be stopped. But what if we were put under
for abysmal surgery and never quite fell asleep.
But that won’t happen, they could tell. I’m sure myself;
but just imagine, what if the knife is cutting and suction is applied
and you woke up to laceration and pain,
paralyzed with no way to talk.
Worry about this over and over, twisting twine,
bouncing a Yo-Yo off the ground and wondering, what if.
In this town they would laugh at me telling this story.
Exposed roof rafters.
If one were corralled in a crawl space in the attic
where the roofing nails penetrated to stab and cut,
hope there won’t be my fear–
asking again and again, what will you save from the fire
when this place burns down?
What to grab quickly when I let you go.
Fear would take me in a choke hold and expect me to go limp.
Faking an asthma attack is one method of release.
Pulling fear onto your back and lifting upwards would be another,
piercing its spine with the roofing nails.
That is interior sweat and a black leak.
That is fear indoors, in a confined space, nothing that
hasn’t happened before.
But to be trapped in an attic crawl space, beams exposed,
vents letting in dusk air touching each nail–
Fireworks are lit outside twice a year.
There you would sit, shut in the attic crawl space
knowing how moisture was low because the drought is still on.
A bottle rocket could land on the dry roof and set it ablaze.
Alone in the house, banging on wood, unable to spray water
on flames from the outside before they burned through–
Built-in cabinets, nooks, seating, and shelving.
To move away from the house you grew up in;
to go to college or the Army with spectral anticipations
found in photo albums of Polaroids,
of flash powder or campus lamps in fog– legs bending.
To pack for Fort Lewis, take a few cassette tapes,
share the baked goods sent by mom with your brothers.
Eat them at once or they will be thrown away.
To open each kitchen windowsill like a piano,
uncork the olive oil and circle a pan with it one last time–
Hate the thought of growing up, leaving this dry dormer wood,
knowing it will be renovated soon after you leave.
The shelving has bowed under the weight of encyclopedias.
The shelves are painted white in some rooms,
stained and varnished in others.
Exposed interior beams.
Grandma once said she went to work and grandpa had a surprise
for me to find one day, coming home from work, tired.
He stained and varnished every last beam in the house
to his liking. She didn’t take too fondly to the color and shine at first,
even cried a little, but learned to live with it.
The fears must be documented;
the fears that inhabited each house, each garage,
each school yard blown away.
Fears held by the names included in policies of New York Life.
And these things, one and all, permanently erased.
Nisqually is time in the north and south interstate.
To enlist and enter Fort Lewis,
train and receive many baked gifts– ship to Afghanistan.
A wife is pregnant in her Craftsman house.
Putting on night vision one evening, the chatter of laser beams
arced the sand. Hit on the head by a stone, taken away.
Get the American ones, they’ll pay, they’ll pay out.
Best pay. Don’t get taken. Shoot first. Fire and go out
before getting taken alive.
The sand meat fed in bowls is rat and insect.
Remember old Nisqually when times get hard.
It’s what you’re drinking rivers for in your head,
the time and peace of a river that flows, the bridges that still last
against traffic. A primary conduit. You take out that bridge
and they’ll be set back for weeks. Protect the town, the land,
the very tectonics other companies insure against.
And when torture comes, when beheading is a cough dangled–
when a doll is resting on a bed.
Sit on a blanket and relay the quality of care and food,
the bread, the protein; false sanctities of the opposition’s dreams.
Kill, Kill the Infidels. Know when they are done filming
you will be beheaded. Forget the old fear of failed baths.
Find a way to kill yourself first then worry it won’t be complete–
It may not be finished and they will behead you anyways.
I was once shocked changing a lightbulb above the stairs.
A board was laid across and a ladder positioned.
110 volts didn’t kill but it was magnetic, then threw me.
Or, as clearer memory revises, I merely stepped back.
We once dreamt our teeth were falling out.
I woke with floss in my hand and there was no bear chasing me,
catching up to tackle, pulling me down with several teeth
ripping away half of a cheek, my brow, my chin, the side of my neck
now a simple mollusk.
To watch someone die in their dreams in a Craftsman house
in the Nisqually basin when they are having a nightmare
about tornadoes and running to the basement.
Someone dies in a basement before help comes.
No one heard, no one drove past in the morning and realized.
The mailman didn’t hear. The school bus driver
didn’t notice a child missing.
One clerk wasn’t clocked in at Woolworth’s. The escalator
could shine itself, dislodge stroller wheels on its own.
Teeth were falling out– This dream tangles with hair
in the paws of a black bear, in a crows beak, in the eggs
inside a bird house perched on by an American Crow
pecking into each egg.
I remember the tornado at midnight
that lit up the ground then the sky.
It arrived by a sheet metal comet carrying a star.
The neighborhood was set ablaze and wind blew it away.
Those asleep were x-rayed, made lighter, burned to film.
Their beds disappeared beneath them.
Near the turnip garden and garage a shadow was left
of a human form. The garage was bowled over and disappeared.
One neighbor who worked the night shift saw the flash,
a house bent over,
a grandfather running for his peach tree then was gone.
If I could have just arrived a minute earlier I could have saved him;
throw my body over his, cover his eyes with my palms, whisper
it will pass soon–
I want to be stuck in an elevator with you.
But what of the desert, she said,
what of the high desert where you left yourself and me–
Blown higher to upper deserts. Trams race down to here, no trams
fly up to there. What of my pregnant belly?
She asked, what of the tremors and tornadoes
deep in the pit of my stomach, what of
ancient nail bombs back in the foundry on Wilkeson hill–
How many times did you watch someone die, she asked.
How many times did you watch yourself die?
With my child already dreaming bad dreams in my belly
before C-section. Perhaps he will require C-section, his dreams
are too big for my belly, for the world.
He will be a big-brained boy.
Know how to fly bones at age one.
Know how to spin the carousel in just the right way
for the perfect photo to be taken.
He’ll watch someone die one day.
His dreams are already warming inside;
I’m feeling the bear dream again
in the middle of a tornado. Is this what you left home for?
Ancient war to conjure the rejection of former marrow.
Time to go to work, I’ll write you again later.