Poem at Thirty-Five 

by ROBERT FERNANDEZ

 

AT ONE, I was a moat
of cabbage and silt; 
              shit bit my wrist.

AT TWO, in dung and dew,
I spat rancid ketchup
of the heart, all
red slide
              boiling.

AT THREE, I was a serpent
beneath ferns, moist
and shining; I plotted
small occults, hatched
              doomed knowings. 

AT FOUR, I
became night air
and was the tiger
burning, eating
              bones of lyre.

AT FIVE, you
met me at the moat
where I filleted the rope
and grilled that thorny  
              Cupid’s heart.

AT SIX, we were deranged,
and our coats smelled
of camphor and gleamed
              like moth-riddled brains.

AT SEVEN, I could hear it, 
Delibes on the speakers
and, dropping from your
blood, the fattest
              black buds.

COME HOME TO US, AT EIGHT, 
who know the breach and
see the locomotive split
in half, releasing maps
              to the sky. 

AT NINE, the time was spun, 
the morning’s done,
and with scratched lungs
we tried to breathe
some orange sponge
              of horizon.

AT TEN, I saw the blush  
on tan limbs, saw fountains
chasing one another
through gardenia bushes
              and pavilions.

AT ELEVEN, who
knew your name
or what you were,
who knew the air, 
the clotted there, 
who knew the fans of ice
through which you broke
on your way
              to swollen air? 

AT TWELVE, don’t smoke
your heads in dust, little frogs; 
when the little frogs
hopped up between us
we looked one way, looked without; 
we sticken these horizons
              with what we touchen. 

AT THIRTEEN, I was
a long clean groove running
the length of a sphere. 
When 666 came it brang  
baskets of white fruits
that made my eyes hop like pop
rocks through
              the glitter streets.  

AT FOURTEEN, 
tell me the piranha-
blood drip was mixed
with cocaine. Tell me
the rain knew my name, 
knew I would be  
              famous. 

GERRI, AT FIFTEEN,  
dawns stripped naked for us; 
there was no time
but reeling shadows
              Saturdays outside The Edge. 

AT SIXTEEN, WILLIAM, 
I became an
Odalisque among fat
candles. I ate only
              pearls and Pharaohs. 

AT SEVENTEEN, O cracked feet, 
O she whom I miss, O so
unicorn, so stab my eye for I
have some queer
              puss to bubble. 

SEVENTEEN, SEVENTEEN, 
you were so mean
with your suns
and daughters. 
40s in the bag, 
we go as clear as channel
water toward light. 
Red lemonade, you were
laughing in the park where
the devil rays could not
see you. You wanted
a kiss. Under lindens
and under law, our hearts
went “ache” and “boom” 
and “right” and
              “yes.” 

AT EIGHTEEN, all doubt
was crushed down into you— 
a trunkfull of hot woofers.

AT NINETEEN, if you came broken
to this game, you should have stopped. 
Stop. You should never stop; 
you should not stop; no dread- 
naught stop; no dare not stop; 
can’t stop; won’t stop; do not
stop. If you came broken to this feast,
you cannot stop, cannot help but bear
              your fault forward. 

AT TWENTY, who wanted an unkindness
of ravens at the door. Quoth
the Raven: I carry my chains
into playgrounds and Spains
on my way to what sun
can’t name—some
crumbs sprayed across
azure where I offer my eye
to the earth and eat swordfish
              steaks for sure. 

AT TWENTY-ONE, 
on the burning deck, 
you heard love’s bone-
footed step slip. Didn’t it? 
It wasn’t your home, was it? 
It was your home, was some
              kind of home, wasn’t it? 

AT TWENTY-TWO, here’s some speech
and some wanting. And if they could
all be blonde, the day’s wrapped
and everything dies. I
was at a palace at morning
and the 2X4s wept like birds
and the drywall sweat was blood
and the writings were flirting cousins. 
We only have not to burn it down, 
have only not to burn it down, 
              what we’ve been given.  

AT TWENTY-THREE,  
in those days of volcanos

and sunspots,
we traveled out

to where you couldn’t  
touch us. 

Some islands
and yachts…

We said farewell
because the shit 

was just too
real
              back there. 

AT TWENTY-FOUR, 
you became
all wave,

all force of nothing
looking for the day in
              the day, that brutal note. 

AT TWENTY-FIVE, who makes,
maps, mazes us? Black maize, 
weakly, purple maize, mais oui. 
Louboutin red then you shattered
like maize on the purple ground. 
Then you shattered like maize on ice. 
Then you danced like maize on ice. 
Then grinned all for the revolution. 
Then the smile, revolution, floated
above the waves and dunes. Then
Dionysus fanned
              into seven smiling hands. 

AT TWENTY-SIX, it was disease, 
if you please, blue-cloud leprosy
and blister whispers in the streets. 
Tyson vs. Berbick, or throwing
jet fuel on possibility and dying
to unlock a “yes.” What makes
the blood
              undress?  

AT TWENTY-SEVEN,
sat with a hand
in the Doberman’s mouth. 
Los Angeles tented
into visions, Miami broken up
into boys and girls. I was and am  
an end. Oh, snap, 
              I begin again. 

AT TWENTY-EIGHT, 
who is so sure as me
and such a waist like starlight? 
I have a memory
of one who is born
and then the ground
shakes, the clouds
come back then sour in-
to black sour cream. Then
everything becomes strange again. 
Then my desire spills home- 
lessly into “never”  
              and “need.” 

AT TWENTY-NINE, what ife
we murdered thought? 
What ife we worked
for no pay? What ife
we hated the day? What
ife we willed disaster? What
ife we fucked faster? What
ife we killed the world? 
What ife the spirit spoke? 
What ife it vomited up
rope? What ife we ate
pastilles of the dead? 
What ife we gave  
              eternal head? 

AT THIRTY, still with
never-evers of such fuck-up
mothers saving sons and fuck-up sons
              saving mothers. 

AT THIRTY-ONE, a Baudelaire bat
clasping the face. Baudelaire wing
gripping the neck. Baudelaire  
clinging to your neck, touching
around the eye for some
              red slush of sky.  

AT THIRTY-TWO, touch
on some world. Get my
eye through the gate for
tomorrow is a no one in
the void’s ski mask, a die
              floating. 

AT THIRTY-THREE, 
the heart’s a vampire and sees
all pink pillows for the ever-homeless
raging stars. My, my, you were so charming
where black spaghetti landed like a plow in that wall. 
It’s like I can’t ever say anything to anyone
              at all.  

AT THIRTY-FOUR, 
Nothing could be so crushing. 
Nothing could happen so least, so quickly. 
The problem is my love is like a soft red t-shirt and goes
everywhere, even unto the earliest places. I never know
if the sword is just above my heart. Still the girls all say
              I have the voice of an angel. 

AT THIRTY-FIVE, act like you need me, 
for I am a roll of carpet on fire and spit
green and red from every aperture. 
The vulture’s gaze falls on me. 
The world’s eye smiles at me.  
I was gonna say in some ways
it might be easier without me,
but before long you will know
that everything is wrong
              and there is no going back.