44: coma in cantos: canto 4

canto 4

my brother
who was a professional
of target practice for men
in countries our teachers
could never pronounce (eye rack, for example)
told me that I worry too much,
that my mind plays tricks on me,
that he saw death forms in the sands
and wondered if he’d ever see me again
out loud on the video feed and said, Dad
when he wakes should set me back on the path
of righteousness, which, he intones, is quotable,
and I say, no, just more deathforms

I told him once I would die for him
but not for a country, and he said,
For Dad or for me? For you, I said, if Hitler
himself came and said, Give me your skin
for your brother’s life, I would say, okay, yes,

here it is: my skin, peeled; it looks like a tortilla
immersed in food coloring, you know the color

but then there was a question of assurances,
how would I know Hitler, being Hitler, a liar,
a maniac, would live up to the deal, I told my brother,
which is a problem, a real problem, and so, I said,
How would my skin assist if Hitler reneged,
somehow got me to give up my skin for you my brother’s life
and then, suddenly, took it all back, and they took you
to the firing squad or the furnaces? He said:
I think would know that, knowing what I know about Hitler
and Saddam, you see, and you, he said.

even though all you want to do is destroy,
you have the destruction gene, remember, he said,
that time at Christmas, when Dad said Grace
and you asked him, How do you know, how you know,
and you pressed and pressed until he waved the knife
at the air and said, for faith it is and is enough,
and you said, But how do you know, just tell me how you know
for sure, for sure, and he took the bird, or was it a ham?
because you just wouldn’t shut the fuck up
outside and plopped it on the top of the car
and drove away

I don’t remember that, I say often, often
over the place where they buried my brother,
(the last thing he told me was: got patrol, talk to you tomorrow).
I asked the CAO,
I asked the CAO for the name, the name,
Whose name? he said, and I said, the name of the man,
who shot him and the CAO said he didn’t know and would never
know. And so, I ask at my brother’s little plot of rest:
why don’t you come back and tell me if he’s right, if he was right
about heaven or who gave us the fucking ham
and is it true that you’ve always been shot,
that you will be shot and that you were shot dead, always,
and in every world conceivable,
and that I would press and press and Dad would drive
away, did drive away, will drive away, always, with the bird on the hood,
and if he’s right, is there some rule, some instruction
you get when you die, someone, like some CAO comes
to you, to you and your mother and your father and says:
yes, it’s all true, but you can’t go back and tell them:
it’s our rule, you can’t go back; you have to to keep them guessing
because the assurance will be too great a burden,
it’s the foremost rule of heaven that you can’t go back as a ghost
and confirm it to the living,
so, you’re prohibited, or else, or else what?

I often say to my brother: it’s the best joke:
that there’s this prohibition of proof of confirmation,
perhaps having to do with some crazy reconstitution of time
so that the dead in heaven neither grasp nor understand the joke:
that they might not just sneak off, appear to a living human
being and whisper: yes, it’s all true, deepsleeper.

I have a recurring dream: I’m eating my father’s muscles
but I don’t know it’s his uncooked tissue. I’m eating flesh
and the CAO comes and says: you’re eating your
father did you know and I laught at him but wonder nonetheless
is this my father I’m chewing on and swallowing
as I use my teeth and pick up the chunks,
lay them on my tongue for chewing.

I tell my brother this dream
but only over his death
not in his life
because it would have been an embarrassing admission.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *