… and Thirty.

The First Line is the Deepest  
         -- KIM ADDONIZIO

I have been one acquainted with the spatula, 
the slotted, scuffed, Teflon-coated spatula 

that lifts a solitary hamburger from pan to plate, 
acquainted with the vibrator known as the Pocket Rocket 

and the dildo that goes by Tex,   
and I have gone out, a drunken bitch, 

in order to ruin   
what love I was given,   

and also I have measured out   
my life in little pills—Zoloft, 

Restoril, Celexa,   

I have. For I am a poet. And it is my job, my duty 
to know wherein lies the beauty 

of this degraded body, 
or maybe   

it's the degradation in the beautiful body,   
the ugly me 

groping back to my desk to piss 
on perfection, to lay my kiss 

of mortal confusion   
upon the mouth of infinite wisdom. 

My kiss says razors and pain, my kiss says   
America is charged with the madness   

of God. Sundays, too, 
the soldiers get up early, and put on their fatigues in the blue- 

black day. Black milk. Black gold. Texas tea. 
Into the valley of Halliburton rides the infantry— 

Why does one month have to be the cruelest, 
can't they all be equally cruel? I have seen the best 

gamers of your generation, joysticking their M1 tanks through 
the sewage-filled streets. Whose 

world this is I think I know.


The First Line is the Most Depressed

I wandered lonely as a cloud, mouthing
all the platitudes, not ever saying aloud

the angry half thoughts collecting in my blood.
Thus we sat together at one summer’s end, good

friends (at least on paper), and I said "Here
I am, an old man in a dry month," and you reared

up on your hind legs, yelling, "Stop all the clocks,"
and then, "cut off the phone!" I was shocked,

I tell you, and left, and then went down to the ship,
thought I'd blow this town, light out for the territories, shit

happens and then you die, & etc. Ah, rose, harsh
rose, sorrow is my own yard in spring, all marshy

and full of weeds. Better to depart. So call the roller
of big cigars, that mustachioed old baller

with the John Deere cap who shouts "The land
was ours before we were the land's!" And the band

played on. Oh, yes, my Life had stood -- a
Loaded Gun -- long before any of this madness could

fuck me into submission. And I celebrated myself,
and sang to myself, crooning "I've been away from you

a long time," and "I can't sleep at night," all the blues
fit to print. But now the thrill is gone, and memory, too.

That's what happens to a dream deferred -- it goes down
at sea in a leaky boat and you're fucking lucky if you drown.

Suggested soundtrack: John Lee Hooker.