When the poets, grouchy about nothing, try to fuck you, you will know that they too have lost their grace.
That shortness of breath – you still think it’s those cats that have stolen it? Your cough is a winter cough, tuberculer and constant as your cigarettes. You will not always want to be as tough as the boys you think deserve to be legends, nor will your smile flash as boldly as trinkets caught in a Mardi Gras parade.
Maybe then you will believe you can choose not to die violently from asthma or dismemberment by rail car to the blue wail of a saxophone.
In the other place you arrange gingham nightgowns and lingerie over grey kittens that sleep in a Fisher Price shopping cart, back in the sawdust of the last room in some warehouse crammed more with secrets than out of tune pianos.
If you have not run into your soul mate by now, assume him dead.
Go back to the other place, exploding like a rocket of stars.
Away from the other place, the chill sets in early, every puddle an egg of blown glass gone to pieces. In a place that is not the other place, you will learn later that the victims had been giving hand jobs, but when they are first gone, you hear only of the weather.
The poets insist that you stop writing the sorrows. “How can you know so little about the world?”one asks. As if knowing children counted for nothing.
You will begin to wonder if you’d be better off knowing you’d reached the end of your life because perhaps then you would know why there isn’t any music anymore.
Spring will bring trumpets of danger, like certain tendencies to lie to doctors, as if good health consists only of the ability to fool them.
Now is when you must run. Run like you know it’s the taller one who hits softest, like you can see the blade hiding in the little one’s hand. Don’t bother stopping to try broken pay phones.
Follow the smell of chocolate steaming up from factories beneath the ground, and don’t stop for blisters or the poor little crazy things along side the rural highway.
You will recognize the other place when a man shows you the fossil of a rat. There will be more to love about him than his ability to forgive you, but you won’t fall for just any dream boy.
Leave a message for me near the railroad tracks, so when the trail back vanishes behind you, I will know where to look.
But do not be drawn in by the nostalgia of earlier notes, always brimming with apologies that reek of second guessing.
It’s not like you aren’t nearly intelligent enough to pull this off.