80: coma, interlude 15


my brother and I,
trash collecting
became our first business,
managing the daily and mundane
tossoff of accountants
in their offices,
which smelled of coffee grounds,
dusty curtains,
pencils, and ink
for copying.
Empty and fill dispensers,
remove deskside garbage,
remove hallway garbage,
remove the shredder bags,
dispose of paper cups,
vacuum the rugs,
polish the floors
with the big buffer
in the utility closet,
which almost killed us.

so that the accountants
could begin it all
again next day, men
we knew only from their photos,
family, and the state of their
respective places of work:
clean, ordered, stained,
ruinous with pink paper, yellow paper,
blue paper, white paper, pink memos,
blue memos, cigarette butts.
They all had children, perhaps grown now,
or not,
smiling happy from frames,
waving at the flash,
oldday polaroids, 35mm
film developed at the drug store
and squared behind the squares
of cheap frame glass.

this first business,
our first introduction
to hardcore pornography.
In the big drawers,
in filing cabinets,
stacked under the desks
plain to view,
so we’d finish work
and check for newest
material after months
of our craft’s beginning,
the first of many, coming on our
bikes every other day
after delivering papers
(which was someone else’s business),
unlocking the door,
removing the refuse
then staying a little
and turning the pages
of these wonders
of anatomy and brutality,
these wonders of imagination
and eventual dullness.

they’re all the same, you know,
I told my brother. At least, I said,
in Thor and Spiderman, the stories
change, but here, it’s always the same.
It always ends the same way.
My brother, who didn’t care, said:
yeah, but these breasts are all different.
Make sure you put them back
ordered right, I said, and we left,
the sky softening, the distant
sounds of early morning moving nearer,
and we’d ride our bikes
home, forgetting the sordid
magazines and smells of the accountants
with the day coming
for school and maybe a little sleep
before that.

on one ride back
my brother said:
You know the accountant
with the cleanest desk?
I think so, I said.
The one with the picture
of his family with the wife
or someone cut out of it,
the face cut out of it?
Pretty weird, I said,
just the face cut
out of it.
He said: I found the picture,
the cut out face.
You found it? I said.
He said, In one of the magazines.
He pedaled. I pedaled. He said:
in the one of the magazines,
tapped. Taped, I said?
It’s funny, he said, taped
on the face of a women
getting it by two dudes,
another one strangling her
while she’s getting it,
two dudes giving it to her
the third one doing the strangling.
Why didn’t you show me? I said.
I don’t know, he said.
I just looked at it and closed it.
Who’s that accountant? I asked.
The one with the cleanest desk, my brother said.