Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Mosquitoes

But that was the year we had an Indian Summer through November and our apartment was overrun by mosquitoes. They came in through the windows at night because we didn't have screens and we didn't have air conditioning. In the evening they were invisible to us. Our only proof that we were there was whining next to our ears and the raised red welts. We would sit on the couch sweating with our shirts off and feel them devour us. Or when we would go to sleep they would leave bites where we weren't covered, on our necks or our shoulders. Michael got a bite on his eyelid. In the mornings when they were fat and slow with our blood we would go on a rampage, crushing them with books against the wall, leaving the guts spattered there as if in warning against the others. They would sit still as we lined up the rolled magazine inches above them. They didn't care. They had already left their mark on us.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Reaper

1.
I am the Reaper. I am drunk on sweet berry wine
and here to harvest the souls

of your pets. Dogs and cats mostly.
I was late on the day they were assigning jobs

so I got domestic animals – I fish the soul of Simba
the crustacean out of the toilet

or claim Boris the terrier,
run over by his owner in the driveway.

2.
In death, as in life - your animals are playful
and irreverent, nipping at the angels

and slobbering out the window
of the carriage of death.

I come home late for dinner and my wife takes sympathetic note
of the pale indentations on my skeleton

where the ferrets have been knitting their claws.
She kisses the top of my skull and says, “oh, honey,"

and we eat noodles and butter
in front of the television.

3.
When I first started
I would see the faces every night in my dreams,

The lizards that got and trapped
behind the furnace in the basement,

the old dogs, guileless, and with silver fur
around their eyes.

I thought it was to be permanent.
I thought these ghosts would be a mystical curse of the job

until one night I went to bed stoned
and dreamt that I could breathe underwater.

I lay down on the ocean floor and closed my eyes
and have not dreamt of animals since.

4.
It is twilight at the veterinarian's office when you bring in Mittens,
fourteen and with a bad liver.

I wait in the corner. You put your hand on
her side, and she looks up at you with love

and with understanding. When the doctor takes out the needle,
Mittens does not make a sound.

She will come quietly, I can tell.
I am tired and she is tired. We have had long days.