by Ian Khadan
Mourning the Lost
You know your former self like a tooth spinning
in its own blood; its clawlike root is another weapon
you’ve lost. You press the cold bullet back into your jawline
as if it were a missing dance step or a mask you use to hide
yourself in the dark. It nestles in the socket and gorges
on your flesh, your gums are a graveyard and nothing
comes from death except the passing of it. Soon too, the pain
multiplies on itself and its blighting gives you nightmares
about dirigibles; they are trying to fly to some other place
through a thick black cloud. And you wake to the same
empty space each new day, reminding yourself in the prodding
of the wound that something alien shelters in your mouth.
After the dirt has firmed around your new tombstone,
your eyes become a culling of want; this, the number 9
unhinged from a telephone, a button snapped from its shirt,
a dark cloud opening up to the warmth of sunlight. All these voids,
you want filled.
The Good Woman
Her heart is rotting. It lives in the refrigerator,
near the opened bottle of wine, next to the butter.
She takes it out to dinner sometimes, mops its dregs
from the linoleum floors with a blue plastic bag
and lathers it over her skin. The landlord is worried.
The rent is on time but the stench is beginning
to travel through the pipes into the hallways. Her co-workers
use the long way around her cubicle and no one sits
next to her on the subway. Some days she cooks
for the poor thing, shoves a bowl full of macaroni
elbows and soy meat across the kitchen table
while it soaks in a glass of Chianti. She plays Sinatra
and laughs the entire time, stops only to let the cigarette
smoke through the window. At night she cradles
it in a peach blanket, pulls it close to her breast.
She squeezes in all the quiet: (the neighbors’ doors
slamming shut, the elevator passing up and down) pretends
this is its pulse.