The publication date for My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m. is fast approaching (May 5). Despite the pandemic, Indianapolis has been very welcoming. Many thanks to Kevin McKelvey and all the Indianapolis University students at Etchings Press who worked to bring this book to light.
P A L I N O D E ( H A N D S , H O U R S , L I G H T)
Consider the hand, its breadth, its history in mathematics and limitation. 27 bones, two strokes. Distal phalanges spanning gaps. You turn and wave at the winnowed tunnel and the drops feathering the glass. The sinister endures tasks of life; right blesses power and assuages guilt. Presuming inflection, I use both hands to tally the absent. Later as we drive through the checkpoint, our way greased by fluency in the language of coin, heaven’s oblique arch recedes and I praise the passage of hours.
I praise the passage of hours measured in terms unknown to some: beyond two, many. Returning, we see streets guided by lampposts, bent trees and the uneven drizzle of sidewalk mendicants blurring through their days. A hanged man’s dessicated hand (pickled in salt and the urine of man, woman, dog and mare) forms the Hand of Glory, unlocking any portal the bearer desires opened: a direct tool of consciousness. Lacking the fat of a gibbeted felon, I cannot properly light the way.
I cannot properly light the way, but we observe facets in differing terms: the hand, lips, and mouth claim more neural innervation than the rest of the body combined, perhaps a consequence of the primacy of making and sounding. Candles smolder and yield to shadow through dancing hand stories. The wave of acknowledgment, a finger across the lips, the open hand proclaiming innocence, expressing, grasping, creating, constraining, releasing. Extinguishing.
* * *
This first appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos, Issue 11.
My advice? Wear boots, even among the dead.
Our barefoot friend, having separated the rattler’s
head from its body, picked up the six-foot
length to show off, and stepped back onto
the head, which though not alive, still managed
to squeeze venom from the ducts and inject it
through its fangs, into his foot. Consider this
a metaphor, if you must, but don’t belabor
it. This morning I am searching for
connections. The plumber says that when
the overflow is clogged, the sink won’t drain
properly, and I notice similarities between
vision and words and the dryer’s vent — how
twists and hard angles and blurry lint may
confuse the issue, perhaps even start a fire.
And before you say, yes, yes, that’s what
I want, a fire, consider other possibilities,
not to mention consequences. Confuse
one word for another, and you’re an idiot.
Let your finger tap the wrong key, and the
incorrect letter provides a glimpse into
the future, or at least beyond the neighbor’s
closed door, a passage of signals impossible
to predicate. But differences exist: decapitate
poets, and they won’t bite, or at the very least
their venom will infect your nervous system
indirectly. Other advice? Pause before sending,
look before you leap (or step back). Avoid fast
food and politics. Drink good beer. Laugh often,
breathe deeply. Contemplate your footwear.
“Synapses and Other Conjunctions” was written during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was subsequently published in September 2016 at The Blue Nib. Many thanks to Luanne Castle for sponsoring the poem and providing the title.