They have two noses; six eyes in the arch of each foot.
They never tire of blinking down at the Americans—
our surfboards, machine guns, our dancing hamsters.
The way we shower every day, then rub more oil into our skin.
One notes There is no end to the number of things
they can hydrogenate. One checks the spaces in bubble wrap
to see if we store useful things inside. Every April
two men create a thing; then the fruit flies start dying.
By each November one man has a button, and four thousand men
have the job of making sure he does not push the button.
One notes There is no end to the number of buttons.
One visits a hundred random bedrooms. His third ear
records that Oh, God is still popular. He notes a rise
in couples sleeping side by side, holding hands tightly.
He calls this the Red Rover, Red Rover Position.
Four are assigned to the homeless and ten to schoolteachers,
who tend to jump from bridges more often. The one
in charge of soldiers sketches the long beard of Mr. Maupin,
who swore he wouldn't shave until his son came home.
Mr. Maupin sleeps in a blue recliner, still in his fishing vest:
one pocket stuffed with lures, the other with laminated
baseball cards of his son Matt's face. The backsides
show an angel, all cookie-cutter wings and halo,
yellow ribbons for hair. She declares Not one left behind.
The angel sighs and goes to sip whiskey with the angel
of telemarketers. Every night they watch lights dance
across thousands of blue screens as if, they note, constellations.
Every night they listen to the click of our million keyboards,
toasting the sound American souls make as they collide.
My Los Alamos
My soybeans for your silo,
My pitcher for your infielder,
My roller skates for your cherry bomb,
My first date for your Dairy Queen.
My chute for your ladder,
My coyote for your anvil,
My Chevy for your Mustang,
My Nancy for your Sherlock.
My cops for your robbers,
My secret for your coat lining,
My equation for your explosion,
My grandfather for your enemy.
My motherhood for your mother.
My childhood for your child,
My boy for your girl,
My girl for your girl.
My tongue for your knees,
My breast for your tonsils,
My belly for your big toe,
My feet for your elbows.
My underground for your flight.
My uniform for your atom bomb,
My piece for your war,
My peace for your war.
My dance for your Siberia,
My flowers for your tundra,
My flour for your silo,
My hand for your forgiveness,
My hand for your forgiveness,
My hand for your forgetting,
My first date for your Dairy Queen,
My thinking a fist could forget.
Leaving you was a matter of walking away, I thought,
then walking further. His grease, teeth, his wolf breath: I took him in.
What if there was wine? There was wine. What if there was vodka?
It wasn't that much wine. What if he had a gun?
There was no gun. I took him in and trotted back to you, obedient,
holding this sin like a dead bird in my mouth, dropping it at your feet,
this gift. Now make the bitch of me, my love:
Turn loose my eyes, let my jaw drop. My tongue, a leash on the bad mutt.
These marble knuckles, fatty and loud. Punch the sweat
from my collarbone—rainwater off a cheap awning, blood untunneling.
Evict me. I am stubborn with tenants no one will miss.
I am a basement of dumb boiler parts, sometimes mistaken for a plan.
I am down to my last lightbulb, landlord pounding at the door
with your fists, your voice: Even fireproof buildings have their escapes.
Even the tame dogs dream of biting clear to the bone.