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