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Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine

David Dodd Lee

Curvature of the Spine

It wasn’t all that long ago I watched a guy drink himself
to death he really died   pissed all over himself first   all over the couch
later I saw the box cutter in the sink   I wish I could have saved him
that same week I saw a giant swallowtail come up from Florida banking like
a boat through the Dakota-like plains west of Galesburg
and I knew I was a little bit singing / dying each minute   my hands
clutching the wheel of the mower she was the angel of death that butterfly
And then my hands on the girl   who dreamed and dreamed while I kissed her
I watched her circulate in her clothes   Then I start thinking
I’m not capable of thinking   I’m just beating the wind with my nuts
I tell you from there things get foggy   like many arrows whistling
through rain   a confluence of vanishing points   As a child I lived near a hollow
scooped out in the dunes   I watched the dying alewives
float under my balls while the hair sprouted around my
nipples and my spine grew long as a vine strangling a phone pole
As long as I can remember the trees
clung to the cliffs of sand   Nothing begins with me   Nothing stays the same
Nothing gropes its way home   Those days and now These   snap dragons
and tulips   marigolds   I ate a basket of purple beans last night
grew them in the damp arbor sun of the late afternoon
when you throw them in boiling water they turn green
it’s a miracle of alchemy   they were crunchy because I was so hungry
I went to buy my lover a goldfish   I think of minnows shifting
over a moonlit bed   I think of hot water cutting grease off a knife
I clotheslined a bastard once   he was holding a beer in a cup
it was a long time ago   there was an old wood stove smoking in the corner
of a room   it was full of burning hickory
the ground outside was littered with fresh dogwood petals
I reached my fingers out for a second because I thought it was snowing
I left the fish in its bag   he didn’t die but almost
Tom   she said   Rick?   the T.V. was airing a show about weather
All I could see was a shutter torn off a house and blown
across an empty street   one lamp was on   I got
out of there quickly   I started thinking about my life   the way it sometimes
sparkled like a blue gill caught in the sun or grew dark
like the rain in a yard full of lumber and bricks   I could see my breath
I peeled off a culvert   I listened to the hum of a street light
it kept getting later and later   I walked all night
At dawn I saw that giant swallowtail slowly fanning her black wings
in my driveway like a candle burning in an empty church

Jacket 19 — October 2002  Contents page
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