4: those often chance meetings we have

I knew a man who wore the
little and big veins, his arteries
too on the outside of the skin

spanish he was but spoke Chinese
to the shop people, teachers, and politicians,
the big politicos who we knew disposed
of people, leaving them little more
than blackening feculence under dumpsters
and the larger turtles stoning under
the sun gray in the numerous zoos

little Jimmy once came home with an eye
in his pocket and everyone knew
what all that was about

The man with the veins taught us about sensitivity
and rubber, softness and elasticity,
slickness and snakes,
he schooled us on the art of nails and knowing
what to do when they sprung from the walls
of schools, churches, and animal pens

he’d sit and say, poke this one,
and I’d poke then step back and say
I have one of those, but inside you,
he’d say, yes, and they never really
knew the waystations of the blood,
and I’m yet more proof

does it hurt to sit down? I said

when he spoke English the popliteal
would make like a frog blobbing for mates
at night and the Spaniard would lean in, turn his lips
into an ant hole, point to the subclav and say, Watch
out for sharp rocks with one eye squarer than the other

little Jimmy said, Why don’t they fall off
Why don’t they explode
Why doesn’t someone do something
my father said.  He has strange ideas

he was followed by a nurse who bore a white
bowl, a candle, a recorder to record the musings
and the pressure of plasma inside the biggest tubes
which surprised us with their size and Amazonian ferocity

at night under the lamps he looked lumpish,
woolen, fustian, dancing
under the congregating moths, and months
after his appearance, after much talk over wine and beer
in the camps and cafes, he disappeared then reappeared
on the swollen southern coast, like a great apocalypse
of seaweed and jellyfish, dragged in strings and heaps
by the sea birds and underbitten by pearl-eyed fish

we never saw the nurse again
and all the politicians denied it
everyone as the sun went down
watched the man give himself up to the tide
and sink into the night