Panic Button



I see a tray sling in the air, a green plastic cloud
raining milk and peas and vegetable soup.
All through breakfast McMurphy’s
talking and laughing a mile a minute,
teaching Joan to play the bottom half
of ‘Chopsticks’ while he plays the top
and Lenny trying to bite
Doreen’s hip through her skirt.
Mad Jimmy just keeps playing
with the Panama in front of the mirror
and making little awesome sounds
where Hemingway sits down to arm-wrestle
Ellis nailed against the wall
in the same condition they lifted him
off the table– the same shape,
arms out, palms cupped.

The girls look awfully bored to me.
I see them on the sunroof yawning,
painting their nails, bored with
knives, forks, spoons, metal dolls–
a paper Halloween bat
hanging on a string,
a snap of Roy reaching climax
while jacking off–
standing in a line like zombies
among shiny copper wires
and tubes pulsing light.
Marco picks up an avocado.
“Yeah that’s what an avocado is:
frozen sun. We eat the sun and then
we walk around feeling warm,”
I blurt, since Doreen has suddenly
gone dumb as a post.

I remember the way he closed one eye
and looked down across
that healing wine-coloured scar,
the table shaped like a cross–
silhouette wrists and ankles
running under the leather straps.
Marco’s eyes extinguished.
“You’re my favourite living poet,”
he said. “But you’re fucking crazy.”
Hemingway took off his clothes
and laid down flat on the floor.

I left Marco on his hands and knees,
scrabbling in the darkness.
The needle hung there from his pants
like a little tail of glass and steel.
Dumpy and muscular
in her smudge-fronted uniform,
the wall-eyed nurse rolled her eyes
and ducked her mouth to laugh in her fist.
“It’s a full moon tonight.”
I open my fingers a crack and smile
at the silver globe cupped in my palm–
smile and smile at what’s left of him
oozing out of his pants and shirt.


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