"revisions" - Douglas Ahimsa Merchant



from the cedars wet with salt-wind,
you see a scene of famine
when you were young, you believed in sunflowers
now the sea lions down by the docks
are trying like hell to mount you
the fire is damp, like a streetlight
and your memories boil in your head

on the strand, there’s a dead dog barking,  
the umbilical cord of some sailor,
the dark driftwood of a life
but all you see is Coney Island,
spinning in the sand like a chainsaw
as the fog comes over you again

the rectangular light beats through the blinds
like a barcode,
splashed across glistening hills
you can’t help but look
there’s a woman with nothing in her eyes,
a flimsy excuse for a hard-on
like an elephant in sight of the Alps,
a black cat stands frozen in the door

on the filthy walls, a farce of a trial
as if to every bullshit there is a season
a time to gather excuses
there’s a ceiling to everything, you might have said
instead you painted that swan,
gasping on the floor
like a reptile in a broken land
all you left, in the end,
was the chalklines

doodling in your notebook,
you couldn’t taste your own ideology
the one your father beat into your mother
the one that drove your grandma to hang herself
the one you’d wrestled all the decades of your life
I said I’d fight on the beaches
amongst the rotted plums of regret,
between the lions of sedimentary fate,
under the falling arrows of doubt
I said I’d rattle this nation like a snake
I said I believed in you like some people believe in America
you said you had dark thoughts

you took to pounding hand drums in the morning,
your fingers flat and seizing
when the future choked on our dreams,
you refused to watch them die
you didn’t want a funeral
you wanted an abortion

but you can’t move into the past like that,
like it was a grapevine

when you broke the lightbulb in your fist,
the samurai came in droves,
riding persuasive headlights of fear
glinting with blood, and profit,
and motions for summary judgement
they asked for more hallucinations
so through the electrified fence of your bright teeth,
you said  what they said  you had to say

I stood like a cypress, waist-deep in the wind
while the banshees danced like flies
banging gavels of oblivion
on the cauldron of your uprooted mind
that’s why I cracked

the force that drives us apart splits our rafters,
stops our hearts
pulls the hairs from our heads
turns us white with memory
scatters the stars into exile

the force that turns information into noise
drives the root through the sewer pipe
turns crystals to dust
turns neurons to worms
that’s what I was fighting
not you
 
as the sun flees to the vagrant west,
birds sing from their bath in my tequila
it’s that time of day
I sit with memories of seashells and jails
tulips, equivocations,
buffalo shit and rainbows
a geyser of Monterey seagulls
a photograph of myself pissing into the Great Salt Lake
and your aging skin on a Mexican beach

 as I drink it all boils away
all that’s left is that swan,
struck dead in desert fog
on the road that winds up to the orphanage

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