Courtroom Sonnets

Opening Statement

I only ate steaks. It was Nelly Furtado and Timbaland,
wind flipped through sunroof and washed hair,
Jäger dropped in soda pop. It was iced Dunkin’
and Red Stripe, single bed, educational
strip club trips. It was nail artists and hair stylists
opining on Red Lobster. It was toll roads
and asphalt overpasses flung over churches
of Scientology, steering in time to stay
on sky bridge and not sing inevitability.
It was newspapers piled on a porch. It was
a trawler whose system broke, shrimps’ deaths
commuted to the instant. It was a book about
obsession sent to me I didn’t read.
A $1,000 palm tree on a street that taunted me.



The $1,000 palm tree was an inevitability, Your
Honor, considering the fly. It flew
large as a small bat or a bird, emitted whirs
like a kamikaze dropping a load. It rattled
wings on the back of my palm which veered
the steering one, two, three times
with a speed I didn’t comprehend since
it was factoried for Red Lobster men.
I wasn’t meant to drive a Ford like that, red
with a wheel that twitched at any finger’s
quiver. I checked my legs to ensure
they were secure and fled lest the car
explode. The meeting of the tree and car
was written in the uniform suburban stars.


Presentation of Evidence by the Defense

The writing of the uniform suburban stars
was on a scarlet piece of paper that I lost. I
controlled the car destined for me—gray,
power steering, AC vent for every seat—
vehicle of sensibility. Thus, I turned left
from the right lane as drivers do unless
they’re in St. Pete where roads strum
uniformly straight. When the other car
slammed into me, I checked. I was complete.
As she and I exchanged necessities, a bicyclist
appeared, helmeted Tinkerbell, bestowed
a Xerox on a crimson sheet, a poem
he said would rescue me. I didn’t read it.
Dear Judge, that’s why I missed the secret.


Final Motions

The judge of my most missing secret
gifted me a tome by a man who’d died,
poems on being a man, being white,
being from our country’s seceding side.
My body was not equipped for reading.
My body was busy growing intolerant of
whole milk and sliced white bread, foods
that coiled and roiled my interior.
I gulped and chewed toward physical
change. When the giver became judge,
I returned the book, closed, dust cover
glinting. These nights I hear unread verses
in my sleep. A dead man reciting a book
I didn’t read. Me, afraid to open lids and look.

Peculiar Ailments of the Body

At night I think about what happens after. Where the body goes. When you return this body, I think you are to make a list of all the strange wears and tears it has weathered. Perhaps an instructional record for engineers on how to mend this sheath for the next user. Or for research on how to improve our bodies, so that the next models will not experience the same ailments.

Excerpt from Days of Distraction

They gave me a card with a cat meowing Goodbye on its cover. Inside, names and short notes. We’ll miss you terribly! Good luck! Safe travels! Keep in touch! Take pictures!