Lives of the Mortals - Dean Young
Sad humans. You start out grasping
at something you can't see
and stay that way. It doesn't matter
if you're made of cardboard and glitter
or celestial exhale, you've been out in the rain
too long. You try to protect your sister
and she shacks up with Queequeg. You try
to protect your son and he takes up hang-
gliding but he's no butterfly,
he plummets, he does not hover.
Here's one who's married the daughter
of the Used Car King but he's only
a lesser god, maybe able to knock
off a couple bucks. Poor people,
that's all the godhood they'll ever get.
Maybe they can restart their hearts
but they'll be dead soon anyway,
the next batch crashing into stationary objects,
tattooing forever on their chests,
sitting beside the drained hotel pools
writing letters they'll never send.
My ankle hurts. I can't program my VCR.
Oh, my friend, I have lied to you.
It's only the minor wounds alcohol
can purify. If only they weren't mostly
water like carrots, dirty-tasting.
An arm goes through a neck-hole.
What's that falling from the window?
Some of them think they'll wake recon-
stituted in heaven, their hieratic
perms intact. Some think they'll be re-
cycled so don't step on that bug,
it could be Aunt Mike.
If only they were butterflies,
at least they'd have a flight plan.
If only his father survived.
If only her top rope had been secured.
And that's all the further that sentence goes,
a dependent clause with nothing to depend on,
a ladder with nothing to prop against
which are a form of emptiness