ten-o’two pm the intro to the story
you are about to hear the city the simile
like a broad loom rug to include you
it’s like your city don’t believe it it’s not
here’s some history some present got it
the public park that’ll be important later
here’s the date some weather my partner
my boss the police department
this’s where I work my name’s I’m a close-up
on my face a door opens what happened
long dialogue to reveal the crime
cue music cut to commercial return
to question the victim’s mother yes ma’am
we’re doing all we can to find her ten-ten
a clue to the suspect long-shot of a car
driving across the screen in the park
an interview of a witness no information
can’t remember didn’t get a good look
dead lead wait here’s a torn dress
all the men wear hats ten-fourteen homicide
joins the investigation in the stats-office
stock footage of manicured hands at teletypes
of the hundreds of names here’s one
that might tie in ten-twenty-two
the first suspect plays the hammond organ
talks smart damn his alibi’s good quick cuts
more interviews no one knows the mother
says stay away from strangers a new witness
offers a license-plate number track it down
it’s him he’s drinking is angry
you’re not telling me what to do in my house
there’s the door let’s go downtown
I’m not going anywhere you’re trying to frame me
breaks a bottle ten-twenty-nine tries to escape
an upper-cut to the jaw I bring the big man down
he cries I didn’t do it ten-thirty confesses
I did it was going to kill her too was missing
my knife the girl missing the girl found
the blade open under the chair the whole time

On the Island of the Fire Eaters


we build big fires. We steal wood, when the fire slows
we throw furniture on the embers. Anything for heat.
Beer boxes, palettes, cigarettes. Aluminum
does burn. Against the flat horizon:

            lights from the city, corn-stalks cut last season. The county line
doesn’t reach here. The wind shifts. You miss your shot, reload. My turn to take aim and shoot: the flash flattens the flames in the foreground
—freezes them.

            We’re all cold, so you leave your target—a Coke can on a plank on saw-horses—join us as we move in a half-circle closer
to warmth, stay up-wind of sparks.

            Our boots melt when pushing back logs that fall.
Consider the architecture of this pyre: a core of mattress coils, dry leaves and twigs the length of your arm.

            Your story begins with a knife; someone knows someone who shot a cop; we discuss the reptilian mind, reptilian teeth—
that scene in Fear and Loathing, the woman’s gnawed neck, blood-soaked carpets.

The wind is strong. The level of whiskey in a bottle marks the time—pass it here.

            The temperature drops as timber turns to coal.
Ashes land on our jackets, in our hair, our skin
is marked by small, red dots.

            I aim again. Like a gun going off, alcohol on the fire, you flare,
Don’t take my picture. It’s too late. We’re documenting our lives,
regardless of what you say, we are consuming ourselves.