after Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist
Years have loosened the
threads woven beneath
my forehead and cheeks.
Yet the tang of iron and zinc
Still linger on the roof of my mouth
Like regret begging to be put to paper,
My sick mind thought lead
Would bring me rest but
Lead carried me to where I can never dream
So, I drink the ghost of you
Like scorching spirits
Conjuring small infernos in the back of my throat.
You can’t enjoy a buzz up here,
So I don’t understand
Why we all drink like fish.
Just the other day —
A lady in all white said
When my mother found me,
She held me for eighty-three minutes straight.
I bled in my mother’s arms
Only then did she let those men carry me away.
So every night, for eighty-three minutes straight,
I pluck for her blood harmonies,
Until my fingers paint the strings crimson.
To drown out her cries,
To drown out her screams,
Though I know my hollowed melodies never reach her ears —
I miss the smell of my mother.
Because heaven smells like cheap wine
And chlorine swimming pools.
A more empathic world
My older brother, Ben