He Found This Scrawled; Dinner in the Eye; Malpractice; Sligo ’99; The Kingest Bean

He Found This Scrawled

in an uncharacteristically legible hand
on the back of a Department of Corrections
Release Authorization Form
for one Madison, John near the bottom
of a smushed shoebox crammed
with expired apartment leases, 
receipts for major purchases made
over the years and warrantees for gadgets
outmoded long before they met

Give it up over in now no
patricians three the table laid low
bulls in the olive grove lowing 
their bangled wives senseless on rugs 
harmonizing cows in graceless eros 
nibbling figs and pecorino
 oh where is that Ptolemy verb 
that permits its user to take 
 as if eating without swallows?
No I haven’t, not a bite all day

dated around the time she tried to buy the farm,
a story he had coaxed from every angle,
for he considered himself a patient man
who liked his drama deadly but done.
Setting the shoebox down he walked stiffly, 
a sudden tower to shadow her with his conclusion.

You never told me about a guy named John Madison.

Annoyed and blank was the face that yanked
the slip of paper from his hand till coyness
witnessed maybe once, no twice and generosity
made apples fall from her cheeks, and he hated
her whore mouth as it aged into a shameless smirk.

This is the prick who gave me smack

and told me it was blow.
I was too numb to be sure the next day
but I figured he raped me.
All I had to go on was a bacterial infection.
Thank you for digging this up.

She handled the evidence tenderly
like it was one of the crumbling lithographs
of dead relatives in plantation prosperity
in red velvet framed on her vanity
and cooed when she saw the words on its back. 

I wonder if I wrote this during or after.

She studied the document with moonlit eyes
in the June afternoon then folded it neatly
and tucked it like a pokerfaced madam  
into the worn copy of Slaughterhouse Five
she’d been poteetweeting over like it was a hymnal 
before he’d interrupted, and with that classic book 
and the awful document establishing a memory in it,
the box she’d been filling filled to geometric perfection
and was crisscrossed sharply with mover’s tape.
She stood hands on hips admiring her labor.
How sickened he was she hadn’t broken down
over something she didn’t remember.
How hard to swallow he couldn’t protect who she had been.

Stop staring like a fool and start loading these books,
she snapped. The China’s already in the truck.
You wanna finish before midnight?
I was thinking Thai?

Dinner in the Eye

The gulf is to the south. Sunset brings more light.
It’s not day that approaches green sick gold.
The lights go out but twilight doesn’t.

The gulf is in the sky.
Switching direction suddenly clouds
pour from the north, breaking our clock.

The gulf is leaking through worn window panes.  
Trash cans slip and winds slice lawns. 
Lucinda gets her scissors out  
and slashes paper into bored strips. We wait.
It’s coming closer. 
We watch the sky for signs having lost our weatherman.
We make calculations.
At some point there are no more pauses.
We figure we’re finally against the wall.
There are no more pauses.
Trees seize limbs flailing buzzards circle a tin roof section
threatens cats hide under the house.
What is a buzzard that it can hunt in this?  
The gulf is in the house
the shed roof peels into the sky
snip snip snippets of corrugated
metals crash down the block someone
backs away we’re too close the tape rewinds 
there’s a hypnotic hiss at high pitch in slow
motion then it’s still and darker and
now it looks as if we’ve arrived at the beginning.
The gulf is all around

except here.
The eye is directly overhead. 
Lucinda puts her scissors away.
We forget the washcloths in the walls.
Tony takes a lighter to the gas.
The candles and the leftover Swedish meatballs heat up in a blink.
Inside the lids it’s so steady we can boil pasta and flesh out a meal.

I set the table with silver and cloth napkins
and snatch rosé from the cool box
warming and we get drunk and full 
and run around in the yard slightly
green sick gold near midnight. 

Tonight there is no real dark.  
What is light that lingers with dark? 
More gulf on the way.

Spacetime ripped like old lace again last night.
No exotic trigger, just another desk slave
day in tights
branded into my waistline.
Evening is a nude 
battle with pet weapons, things like
public radio, which is of course
not at all for the public, and coconut water,
which is for washing down muscle relaxers.
A pet is a wild thing in prison.  

Run a tub. The faucet is 
steaming punk and loose
Art Deco. Chiptips
of my blue toenails crack the glassy surface.
Ten thousand strangers fracture where my reflection was.
I cannot convince myself the forever 
earsplit trill skipping scrubbed porcelain
is not death by tuning fork.

Declassified secrets sweat down tiles
and evaporate undecoded into grout.
I can’t make it all out in the eternity allotted.
Why do they put chlorine in the water?
Something takes shape on the toilet.
It hikes its crinoline above its three knees 
and dangles ripped stockings over the rim
which threatens to swallow. Slightly female
now and elvin, she looks around 
my bathroom ashing and says  
I am the Little Green Amnion Queen 
and I noticed a crooked vacant sign 
in your alley
that was never there before.
I see your pool is closed for repairs
but we need a room for the revolution. 

She motions towards the alley.
Stardust vagrants begin filing in 
checking in to my flophouse body 
and affix my marionette limbs to strings.
Somewhere in Prague a cuckoo clock strikes.
Bypassing the ear they whisper
into my thoughts--how weak the strings
vibrate on this teeming water balloon! 
This place is a dump. 
If Wall Street knew what a backwater
Earth is on intergalactic markets, 
your life might be easier, honey.

And I wonder, could there be more
to this 
than depersonalization episode not otherwise specified?
More than derealization or jamais vu
or whatever you’re calling it now?
Could there be something neighborly 
instructing me to tourniquet my panicked mind
so we can work out together 
how we got saddled with 900 Newtons
tethered to this ignorant cesspool
and how far downgalaxy revolves
a more progressive system
where travelers might pass without delay or hindrance?
A place where the mind can wander?

Thinking abstract in concrete like this stops it cold.
There’s no thread stitch or machine hum 
or zipper pop, but there’s a Brandenburg
on the radio now. I hear it. I know
the lace has been mended.
I’m no longer privy. I’m just alone
clutching new foal legs in icewater
chanting a name until it’s mine 
and I can see no reason not to reach for a towel
and catch the end of Jeopardy with takeout on the sofa.

I’m adding possible complex partial seizures to your bipolar for now,
and I’m starting you on an antipsychotic immediately.
No more buying drugs on the Internet, young lady,
or I can’t see you anymore.

Why can’t I keep them?
I ask the good doctor as he types.
This only happens when I’m safe in the tub
or staring into a mirror or old photo.
Confronting the illusion of self is healthy.
What are you writing?  
Patient claims to enjoy episodes?

You know, sometimes
I draw baths I don’t intend to take
just to smell hot chlorine
and drag manicure scissors across my wrists
to trace the strings put on my arms
that keep me awake with their cosmic vibrating, 
but I know that won’t do anything
but leave a pathetic mark.
I’m no cutter. 
I’m a fake.
I don’t need to see you.
Sometimes I scrounge leftover speed
you gave me when you thought I had ADHD
out of linen closet baskets and try to scurry
so high I might blunder into the breast pocket
of that sport coat in the sky.

You know, with your mouth open like that
I can see every one of your fillings.
Mercury is elemental.  
Who knows what enemy signals you could attract
with that metalmouth.
Don’t pretend to be shocked.
It’s so easy for a pretty girl like me to smile
and get what she wants.
A doctor really should be more careful.
Sligo ‘99

He led a life so entropic I mistook it for a custom headfuck.
I mean he was charming.

In those days in that place,
love was underwritten with 20s
hurled like spit wads at the stage.
I didn’t have to be there like the other girls.
I had a master’s degree. I had options.
And oversized appetites.  

Sligo would shout up to me on my pedestal, “Put your dress back on. 
Christ, you should be in a boardroom not a bordello,”
and I in my stilettos would walk up to the footlights
and show him how to be naked.
He would cover his eyes when he shoved 100s in my garter 
and I would bend down.   
His bear paws polio slow would close around my throat.
Our foreheads magnetized. 
The crowd roared.

“Tell that crazy Mick to move--I can’t see her tits.”
“And those are great tits.”
 “He can barely stand up. Why don’t they kick his ass out?”
 “He’s some famous bureaucrat in here every night droppin’ thousands.  
They’ll never kick him out.” 
“DC sucks.”

I would sway in his hands as he said things like, “I snapped his neck, 
you know. I saw through the Thorazine his eyes begging me to do it.
Don’t look at me with those eyes, woman.
I gave up mercy killings when you were in diapers.
But still they won’t let Mad Mick leave,”
and I would piece love together out of delirium.  
I have always had a taste for enigmatic conversation.

“However far you run,” he would say, 
“however famous you become, 

you’re a target if they know I fancy you. 
It’s like a microchip. But cheer up, darling, 
they put yours between your thighs.
Now give us a kiss,” and the whoresale spun
in the centrifuge of our courtship.
What could I do but part my painted lips?

I wasn’t in it for pillow lessons on the Digital Divide
and the World Bank’s plan to bridge it by 2010.
I didn’t reject offers from dot.com billionaires because I had morals.
I operated on instinct.
And we all knew when last call was.  So, for a season, 
Sligo and I puked in the gutters of Washington,
that squat city made for April and October,
reaping a love sown in different decades on different shores

until he got shot buying coke on credit.
I wouldn’t say that was a turning point—more an enhancement
or change of venue.
He said to me in the hospital bed, he said, 
“You know it was MI6” 
as I patted Betadyne on the .22 hole in his head.

DC let Sligo off easy with a bullet to the brain.  
He was back up climbing a New York ladder in ‘00.  
It took years for the rats in the strip club to join the race
but by 2004 I too was racking up bylines and residence visas,
in-patient stays and stock options.  
So where’s the power?
That go-go played itself out forever.
I’d have told him to take his diseases elsewhere
but the train station is murder.

DC finally let me off in 2008 with aggravated rape.
I fled to fruit-bearing climes. 
I’ve always been too country for the northeast.
I have a child now and a husband growing in the tropics,
and they’re angels, but they don’t erase the 13 years
true as tautology 
my nail beds were crammed with soil and moonlight. 
All the perfectly sturdy seedlings
I clawed out in the midnight making of vacancy
to clear a fallow tract for Sligo have now rotted
to rich compost heaped on my family.
Some crops require vast acreage.
The Kingest Bean
For Lucinda

I love red beans and rice with sausage not
too spicy so, so much.  On Monday eve,
countertop, I helped Mama stir the pot
till they were so creamy you wouldn't believe.
This is what bein’ a big girl is, I thought,
stirrin’, washin’, cleanin’ beans off kids’ sleeves.

Mama pours tall wine when it's time to dine,
La Croix for me and Daddy in between.
I isolate one bean and say how fine
this bean is so big it's the Kingest Bean.
I puncture its perfection with my tine.
So plump so juicy so like seventeen.

Someday I will marry the Kingest Bean...
wash his dishes, become bitter and mean.  

Carrie Crockett is currently an English and Journalism teacher in New Orleans. Before that, she was a writer/editor for a decade in Washington, DC, New York, and Dubai.