My bed is unmade. I have abandoned it, moved downstairs
to sleep on matted indoor/outdoor carpet in an empty room.
Months have passed, several months, and my bed is unmade.

There is a pickup down the street, chalky campershell
bolted on its swayback like a tumor.
All the camper windows are milky,
papered with drawings of angels and stars.
On the dash, a plastic choirboy stands penitent, pretty and meek,
gaping ovals where the mouth and eyes belong.
Painted eyelashes, Holy Father, rosy cheeks.

Once, at night, I watched a woman have a siezure in the truck.
Her back arched, her head went back,
her long arms thrashed the seat beside her,
and in the seat beside her was a child.
The tongue of this child was folded,
like paper,
and I could see the ridges on the roof of its mouth, white and firm.

There used to be a man who swaddled himself
in dark green trash bags, layer upon layer.
He said nothing,
and he slept in heaps of pine needles under the spiral of a parking ramp.

Once, at night, I saw a cockerel locked inside the cab of the pickup.
The bird would stare and fling itself over and over
at a picture of Jesus pasted on the windowglass.

When the man in garbage bags froze himself to death, we found out
he was not a decorated hero,
nor was he driven to madness by unbearable sin,
nor by unbearable love.
He had been mentally ill since he was born.

We used to be young, unbothered by hunger, unbothered by the cold.

My shelves are piled with newspapers, but I have always thrown away letters
and given up my artifacts to strangers.

There is a puddle of oil where the pickup was parked.
Tonight, I will try to sleep
wrapped in green plastic trash bags, with the windows open wide.

JDP 97/12

Copyright John D Porter © 1997

[List of Poems]