The Quick

Taking my knife to the sharpener

I had to ask my brother

how do I take a knife

to the sharpener

one chance not to ruin

the flesh of this tuna I wanted

to separate the head

and dissolve the eye into

powder on my tongue I said

something about a fire worried

about dying in a fire in this club

with these people she said

“Where I come from that isn’t funny”

meaning Rhode Island

but we were in a rented house

on the Oregon Coast

my teeth coated in the dark

with anti-fungal ointment

the label warned CALL


did I was redirected

to the nearest call center

the operator asked

where I was in Maine

outside the Pacific recycled

its emergency she said

“Be calm, hon, you’re not

even the first one today

if you die today

it won’t be from this”

was her promise

breaking over a marsh

where cranes showed off

standing on one leg to touch

their toes or talons or whatever

a man walked by reeking

of gasoline and as he passed

the gasoline stayed

a woman stepped backwards

from her porch seeking

a stable place to lean the ladder

she climbed swinging

one leg over the gutter

to disappear

think of it this way:

throughout history the horse

has been an emblem of speed

even on occasion an emblem

of flight and to travel

with any quickness at all

meant trust in an animal

velocity which always arrives

with its cousin

a vision of sudden death

though when it comes to that

all anyone will talk about is the bees.