HAMLET SEEKS TO AVOID, ALL THAT DEATH
Published in Fence
I leave the inn at dawn.
The sky is streaked perch.
The air is dream-injured.
My boots crunch the frozen pavement, teeth against stale cereal.
Its a hop, skip and a walk to the lake.
The augur is strapped to my back.
I carry a bowling bag filled with cash.
My breath kindles a face, someone to speak at.
The sodium lamps are layered with flyers that have bled each into each, so that it
seems McGruff the crime dog is lost and holding a yard sale.
These side streets suffer from inhalant abuse.
The trees are scratches off an inkless nib.
At the foot of a sugar maple, a crow picks at a Chinese food pail from Maoses
The lake ice is onion blue.
I sit at the end of the pier and chew tobacco.
When I feel watched, I slip from the jetty and onto the firn and slip-slide across
the lake like an agonist Baptist.
I feel thick.
Fifty yards out is an isletone scrub pine, sedge brush and a tent made from
plaid blankets and billiard cues.
An ellipsis of black stone limns a fire pit.
Reality is a one slipped between a series of zeros.
Reality baits the best mousetraps.
Build a better mousetrap and outlast your father?
Attached to the tree: skulls with braids.
My guts upbraid.
My mouth is raw potato.
How far have I come?
I sense a crimson lash and look up to find the lake encircled by hundreds of
women in red velour warm-ups pushing three wheeled jogging buggies.
Helium-filled foil stars are attached to each pram.
Each woman holds a golden cord in her left mitten.
Are they snow mirages?
Is this a dash for charity?
For Ophelias memory?
Their flesh stains my facts with serum.
This is X.
I take off the augur, which is like a corkscrew, long as my ulna.
I crank the rotator into the ice until the point hits water.
I slide to the islet.
I light a fire with magazines and newspapers I find in the tent.
My picture is on the front page of The Economist.
The women are a chain of milk, a blur.
The sky is the color of leather under the penitents foot.
Finally its horns emerge.
Finally, some horns.
Next it pops from the hole like a slice of black bread launched from a box toaster.
The toy ogre is dressed in tawdry Nervenkitt.
It carries an ersatz Saks canvas tote.
Its shoes are dada Prada.
Its face is jointed, 2-D, like a frieze like a Byzantine mosaic laid a few wrong tiles.
It smells like auto sex.
Do you have it?
Its voice is that of a rat speaking from the snakes throat.
Are we ready to deal?
I hold the bowling bag out to my fey fiend.
Take it out and count it.
I want to hear it squeal.
After the cash goes in his sack, the ogre fingers an atomizer, removed from a
pocket with its fur-lined fingers.
It waves me over, and it sprays my face.
I smell one of those purple flowers Ophelia adoredthe kind that turns out to be
I feel nothing.
I say, I feel not a thing?
There you go.
Thats why I get the big bucks.
I watch it walk to the dock.
I hang my face over the hole and wait for the gape in the ice to heal.
I bring my knees to my chest and rock.
I shift to all fours and tack to shore,
back to those alarming buds.