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Brain Flares

                1.
Brain flares, shrill voices
   scraps of melody, scorches of memory
   torturous, crowded, pitiless voices, screeches
   in his head, all at once, hot, infected, shrill, soft or loud –
He throws himself in the cold river— they pull him out
   He’s no longer, he can never again be, that man
Her advice—“I wanted to mention
   a few more things for Elise—
Do not let her take too many things
   If she needs two chemises a week, let her bring six
   If she is used to wearing only one, about four will do
   Stockings—six pairs, she only needs two changes of dress
Keep the nice blue one at home it will be ruined
   in the packing, if she has a black petticoat
this will be best for traveling, and then
   she will want just one white underskirt
Too much luggage is inconvenient on a journey”
   Mechanical, blind, we go on
   Still, with her usual decency, uprightness, charm, she adds
   “You know how heavy my heart is
I don’t want to talk of it
   My heart bleeds at once”
                2.
People give, when they give, their own gifts
   The aristocrat admired his brilliance
   But his sarcasm and bad manners “are a disgrace”
   He later said “I leave the world to go the way it pleases
I’m difficult and for that, I have often
   suffered the consequences”
Wild justice, revenge
   When you want it, you really want it
The deepest wounds never heal
   Skin just covers over them in waves
   His comic touch only added a grotesque element
   to the pathos, pain and haze of that sad day
Either learn to develop calluses
   or keep yourself safe at home
We spoke frankly as far as such a thing
   is possible with him
Though they reconciled at their father’s death
   relations between the brothers
   remained entirely superficial
   She wrote “Everyone there assumed I was a normal person
The girls giggling with excitement, the boys proud and manly
   That was rather weird”
                3.
The death count’s wrong, they didn’t live
   Tens of thousands were discharged to die
   Tens of thousands died within the first few months
   Tens of thousands lingered for the first or second year
You understand people too little
   and you trust them too much
She fell in love with fire
   Sick of your ridiculous dreams
Your stupid plans, your empty promises
   Never pretty enough, never really thin
   He painted her portrait, caught the bloom she had
   before the loss of innocence
I know how it feels when you’re in trouble
   and no one’s there
No more edges, you might drown—
   There’s nothing left to cling to
Old men nursing morning beers
   This is where the slaughterhouse was
   The transvestites hung out here, near the sex club
   When she gave up meat she still loved the smell
of the slaughterhouse, the animal blood, its visceral
   wildly cold justice

                4.
“Well I think it looks smart,” she said,
   “That’s the difference between you and me
   Your hair is too long and greasy
   My hair is all done up special
I think it looks smart”
   I thought her sweeter than red lollipops
When she couldn’t move and was waiting to die
   She’d stare at silver balloons outside her window
The wind moves the branches above me
   It bends the leaves
   The sun in the river vibrates in gleams
   of  white light on gray water
As he tells it he always fought harder,
   flew faster, and gambled smarter than anyone else
The balloons were set up outside for her delight
   This house has no woman now
Every lie sickens him more and the longer
   he lives the more they lie to him
   Go out there where no one can help you
   Accept who you are and live
Some things, when you have to ask for them,
   aren’t worth having

-September 27, 2011-