A collection of distinctly dark poems by a distinct master of the genre. 128 pages
“How Conrad Came Back”
Two knocks on the door. My father let him in.
Conrad wanted to talk about his trip,
but his tongue kept on sliding out of his mouth.
I told him to push it back. Hard. He did.
And the tongue was hinged back in.
He said there was too much to eat out there.
Thanks to Mrs. Kelly’s surgical skills, he looked too human
and how the girls swooned and sometimes followed him home.
My mother insisted he get some rest.
His skin flaps were starting to slough off.
I quickly wiped away the blood, and I discovered that his flesh
was like sugared sun. I remembered what Grampa said: We were
all yellow inside. That wrong shade of yellow—the color of the gods.
I smiled at the memory. “We’ll fix that later,” I said to Conrad.
He nodded. His chest gaped open at the motion of his head.
I saw something ticking inside. It was not his heart.
“The First Stranger”
He was not claiming to be the messiah.
“Think of me as a door-to-door salesman,”
he said, “with things to offer—most of them
are things you do not need.”
He smiled. His faded
jeans, wrinkled; his face,
shaved clean, reeked
of gasoline when he leaned closer.
I opened the door,
let him in.
He came from another place, insisted
that he could tweak our eyes so we could
see much better. I believed him;
he had brought my next-door neighbor
back to life.
“You are beautiful creatures,” he went on,
“only limited. But I can help you with your vision,
make you see things beyond your visible range.”
And he did. It only hurt when he grazed
the optic nerves. He said that pain was all right,
that it could not exist in the memory,
that it was just there for the moment.
He told me to open my eyes, and all I saw
was darkness. “You blinded me,”
I said. “No,” he said, chuckled.
“Look closely. There are certain colors
interspersed with the black.”
Filmy, mottled swatches shifted
across the blackness.
All the colors were unfamiliar,
unnatural yet they looked as if
they had always existed.
And, oh, how the darkness sang
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