1. Eustace at Lunchtime


According to Eustace’s lunchtime

reading material, heroin is becoming quite

popular, even though it often makes a person

utterly uninterested in things that aren’t heroin

and commonly leads to poverty and/or death

for the person using heroin. The decision

is made to never try heroin no matter what

and Eustace takes a mental note to monitor

his masturbation patterns in the future. “Why

does no one ever paint things

on the inside of coffins?” Is another good question

no one ever asks. Eustace remembers how so-and-so’s father

requested burial with an oak leaf crunched in his left palm

and a bottle of bourbon in his back pocket. Ideally,

Eustace would not think quite so much

about death at one time, since he hates

the ironic possibility of dying

with death on his mind and since certain superstitions

say death will likelier come to someone in the act

of thinking about dying. To be safe,

Eustace thinks very hard about the history

of odd meters in jazz music, then of telephone booths.

“One mustn’t let the mind lean

too much in one direction. Occasionally one must

think of telephones” he tells himself, as if

someone might write this down. Then,

he peels the blue sticker

off his orange peel and walks inside, not liking

to eat oranges outside, in case bees should sniff him out.


2. Dinner with Candles


Eustace usually eats his dinner

on a plate and sometimes by candlelight.

He knows that candles are important components also

for various religious ceremonies, and notices offhandedly that no one

ever lights candles for breakfast.


God ignores our lacy-lidded morning prayers, he concludes.

There’s a reason, after all, that Jesus

delayed his own dissection til dinnertime. When one asks

questions of a dark closet, one speaks loudly, and so on.


It means something else –


after having walked among trees and fluorescent light bulbs, after having kept one’s eyes open for so long, after having been emptied of so much, after having been scraped clean like a bucket of ice cream, after having done or not done all the things one has wanted for so long to do –


it means something else entirely

to pull a chair up to a table, to sit in it, to give the body

what it asks for. Without looking down, Eustace half-expects


to find his own heart on his plate – charred and sprinkled

with parsley flakes. Today he chooses not to be

oblivious to the oblivion he rolls around in.


Whoever convinced the Church


to serve Communion in the mornings

severely misled millions of hungry hopers.


Some of the Old Believers cut holes in the walls

where Jesus’s portrait used to hang. At night

they would worship the darkness’s misspoken black,

and come morning they were grateful for the world.


3. Eustace Puts Himself to Bed


The world is like a million gloved fingers

poking at a person. No one ever asked

Eustace if he wanted a life:

a name, a driveway, a plastic bag

full of plastic bags under the kitchen sink. Somehow

Eustace spent large parts of today trying

to guess, without looking, what color shirt he had on.


Before bed Eustace empties his pockets onto a circular table.

Before bed Eustace removes bits of food that stuck to his teeth.

Before bed Eustace puts his fingers together and prays for

sleep to come like the elementary school janitor no one ever sees


4. A Moment of Understanding


quiet like quiet quiet like

the tree outside was holding

onto its breath holding onto its leaves like

it was a mother goose asleep

with babies in its wings

the heater quiet and waiting

for a better time to turn on all the

cars on all the streets waiting

on the other side of corners

real disturbing the universe kind of stuff

and all throughout the whole ordeal this heart

clanging in a chest

like a wood spoon on a skillet foolish

and unnecessary like lighting smoke signals

in church like making an announcement

at your own funereal

all the same pretty easy it was then

with the quiet outside and

the bell clappers inside pretty easy

it was then to say Eustace was

alive was living which at the time

seemed close to a revolutionary act

right in the middle of all that nothing

and his heart jumping like a dog on a leash

looking for the squirrel