Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dentata Morbidium

With thumb and forefinger flanking larynx
Feel the essential pulse that
With its quiet promise
Buys us everyone those things most ethereal
Most important, least tangible

Bouquets of time like wild columbine blooming
Sonnets of serenity and space fathomed
Chocolate boxes of surprise and wonder
Rings of love boundless
Feather beds of dreams

Now picture shooting rat poison straight into your neck
Imagine killing all the little children inside you
Each a cell a-dancing
The dance of regenerative life
Killed with the poison of neglect

At the speed of blood a-pumping
Nowhere in the body is far from the brain

But James!
You gulped down death with every swallow
Never mind the candy necklace of myriad pills
The 30-packs of Milwaukee's Best Ice
Never mind the endless chain of hand-rolled unfiltered smokes
Never mind the dope, the coke, the codeine cough syrup
From crooked docs cross the border

Your head was full of bacteria, brother!
Full of madness not intangible nor untreatable
But easily extractable!

Yet from rotten root to gums to blood
The wretched stuff went rampant

No more time like wild columbine
No more sonnets or surprise
No more boundless love nor dreams

Bad teeth killed you dead.

But "Death not ends it," Jim Morrison said
Maybe so
But severed - yes
From me
From us
From all who loved you

From all new friends and opportunities and light
From all I opened up to you
By inviting you into my world
After first descending in yours
Like the film about the gynecologist brothers
One following the other into morphine addiction
Knowing no other way to reach his identical twin
Than to follow him in

Down the rabbit hole

I miss you terrible
Come back!
Return Lazarus James!

Together we will check into Betty Ford
You can run rings of Jamesian logic round the nurses
With your colossal IQ and sardonic dry desert wit
We will fly to Oaxaca
For no other reason than it has a funny name
And on the way to the surfside palapa cantina
We will stop at La Dentista
and shout "Pull them all out!"

A blood bath it will be
But a damn fine affair
Our own oral menstruation
All that evil bacteria
All that single cell madness
Will leap from you
Like a million toxic fleas
From a dog on fire

Suckers for pain
We will rub the salt on our gums
Then knock back fine tequila and
And toothless, proudly suck the limes

Because the only absolute in this life
Is that death separates

So we will drink hearty me James
Because no vice could ever kill
A colossus the likes of you

It took and enemy more insidious
Hiding there in plain sight
Smiling at us
Smiling through the mirror at you
Rotten to the core

Imagine shooting rat poison straight into your gums
Blue chemical toilet treatment

I think of New Zealand poet Janet Frame
A mouth full of dead wood at age twenty
Got her eight years of electroshock hell
She got off easy
You got dead

Dentata morbidium

Or perhaps this is all just bullshit
The imaginings of a deluded poet
And a well-meaning nurse
That really it was your mother who killed you in the end

I'm back in Bisbee now
A year and some months hence
Sitting a stone's throw from One Arizona Street
Where last night I peered in your bedroom window
My palms warm on the flat cold glass
I sat by the the fire pit we made together
Sat on your back stoop
Summoning conflagrations from the storehouse of time

It's all there still
Cleaned up yes
Made nice-nice for the benefit of real estate
But our bonfire energy - ha!
That will never be doused
Let the buyer beware, eh?

My first thought was to buy the place
But you left no will
And your mother who you say despised you
Pinched rich and bitter with empty hunger
That oft comes of too much money
She took it all
The alleged millions left by your father
Still in probate when you died
Right down to your little house

And at one hundred fifty thousand
It's too much for this poor poet
With credit like a napalmed jungle
It might as well be a billion

But I can dream!

Which reminds me
Of the little game I've been playing with myself
Denying the logical source of my recent ear infection
That long dead molar
Too long awaiting the money for root & crown

Tomorrow I will walk into Mexico at Naco
Have Martinez yank it out

They still let you keep your pulled teeth in Mexico
I will keep it then and clean it
Glue it in my art car
On the alter I made just for you

I will give it a name
I will call it James.

- copyright Rick McKinney 2008