January 8, 2014KR OnlinePoetry

We Are Bored; American Curse

We Are Bored

So we line our bottles on the fence and aim, or swim
into the river’s gullet, let it swallow us bare—the vellum
sheen of mud on our skin. We drive for hours into
the wind, chasing last light and a time before toil, stage
a breakdown, strike a flare just to see who pulls over.
We blindfold and spin each other around, assail piñatas
with blunt sticks, heat up the flesh of a hog in a pit—
charcoal and dirt—until we can pull its eyes from its face.
We get so lit the stars stagger across the sky. We burn
our cigars, the dense scent of burning loam sucked
down the avenues of our throats, our lungs shuddering
like dying birds, or we trace our shadows, punch the air,
rub bruises into each other’s arms, pull off our clothes,
climb into back seats, press our mouths against windows
to write our names on glass. We pluck the bright faces
of flowers, stick our fists into hives to steal the afterglow.
We build forts from bedsheets to hide in, kiss, slap each
other’s faces, tour the periphery of abandoned buildings.
We follow the sound of sirens away from the suburbs
into the thrumming cities, crowd on the sidewalks to
watch medics pulling the bodies away. We dare each other
into graveyards to fuck against the tombstones, walk out
into traffic, change our names, quit our jobs, migrate
to other cities, tattoo ourselves with the names of lovers
who wish to forget us. We jump out of airplanes,
earth as open as an eye as we fall irrevocably toward it.
We pound our fists on the hoods of cars, stare into
the blazing fires we’ve set, light dynamite in the open fields
just to see how fast we can run. We wrestle with the ghosts
of our fathers, look so long at constellations we see
our births in them. We break into factories, winnow
crowbars into the turbines, throw bricks through the sooted
windows, set the goddamn things on fire. We rush into
the revival tent to swoon into salvation, handle the serpents,
prove we are pure, we are holy. We talk in tongues, pierce
our nipples, drive ink-guns into our shoulders, slam a bat
into the clerk’s face, gamble the house away, give our money
to God, incite riots we have no intention of stopping, rev
our engines at stoplights, drag razors over the soft inside
of thighs, sink into bathtubs, kneel in pews, kneel in alleys,
kneel close-eyed on the filthy mattress, light the pipe,
lie to our families, invent past lovers, divorce our wives
just to marry them again, denounce our children,
then ask their forgiveness. We dance wildly in the arms
of strangers, swallow another handful of pills, throw
a wedding party where the groom is unfettered and where,
already, the bride is crying. We drink champagne and eat
our cake too, throw a ball into the grandstand, roll a joint,
spike the punch, conceive a child who will probably hate us.
We write poems, run red lights, get so lost in the forest
we nearly starve. We go to the office with three shotguns
and a bomb. We look for weapons of mass destruction,
confess to prostitutes, tell stories to lawyers. We take
amphetamines to work through the night, go into
the mountains to learn from the sky. We run for no reason
in the split-light morning, go down to the jail to steal
the prisoners, hang them from sycamores, telephone polls.
We stab a flag into the chest of the moon, keep watching
the screen though it only shows static. We march through
the streets to show our medals, toss up confetti, pitch
hard candies at children, we beat our drums, shine our
trumpets, twirl batons so high they seem to matter, walk
deep into the desert to watch the bomb go off, to watch it
grow and grow like a backwards cloud rooted in dunes.
We speculate on how we can use it: for love, entertainment,
profit, the poor. We can use it to prove our strength, use it
for the war we never want to end, the war we keep starting,
the unkempt war with its mouth gaping, with its fists against
the caves like a monstrous, vacant child, the sun cracking
our skin, the sandstorms blasting our faces open. We let
the heat wilt our minds as we wander back into the suburbs,
beneath the wan streetlights, beyond the cul-de-sac’s end.
We whittle our names into the trunks of pines which harrow
us with the way they stand so still under the stars and rain,
never feeling the slow rot of the heart, never waking to
the light of their failures, never lying down across the steel
rails of the trellis the way we do just to feel the weight of
the iron beneath us, the damp air rising up from the river
through the blank, splintered wood, and that long, slow
moan deep in our bones—the call of the oncoming train.

American Curse

May dark soldiers lead you through the mountains.
May you find the criminal weeping in his hands.
May the scent of whiskey rise from your horses.
May you build your mansion in the sands.

May the beauty of your children be too great for kindness.
May the forest reappear when you close your eyes.
May your dogs grow wild as your heart goes tame.
May your bullet always meet with its aim.

Danielle Cadena Deulen is the author of Lovely Asunder (University of Arkansas Press, 2011) and The Riots (University of Georgia Press). She has won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She teaches at the University of Cincinnati.