WHEN THE SNAKE IS DEAD
"There's a place called Mars, where the ladies smoke cigars. Every puff they take is enough to kill a snake. When the snake is dead, they put roses on its head. When the roses die, they put diamonds in their eyes. When the diamonds break, it will be 1968." - Anonymous (children's song)
In 1968 my father wrested a wooden spoon
from his mother’s cantilevered hand
then snapped it over his knee.
Italy tremors and shifts its shoulders—
Salaparuta is wiped away, its wine buried
in grapes’ near-millennial casks.
Alice had missed the moon a decade
earlier and was beginning to explore
the sights her stardom afforded.
Warhol is shot through the lung,
spleen, liver, intestine, gallbladder
and esophagus—and lives.
My mother is eleven and singing
a song at camp that a thousand others
will repeat incorrectly in the coming years.
She is watching girls and women bloom
and wilt and these seem the same thing.
The words to the song are not important.
In ’89 I am born with a high white-cell count.
Endorphins static my mother’s vision and I am
taken from her arms before making it to them.
That day, a woman finds a live grenade from
World War II among the azaleas in her garden.
It is removed by soldiers and detonated safely.
POSTCARDS FROM HELL
There is so much light
I can’t see a damned thing.
Your father is here
and keeps forgetting what
I tell him. Pain above
my knuckle so blinding I pulled
my fourth finger off. Too late
I remembered phantom limbs.
You and I will always be married.
There’s a river running through
this place. I drop nickels in and watch
the current carve layer after thin layer
from its surface over the decades.
Still there are atoms that cling to the spot’s
clay, but soon it will all be downstream.
Each morning I watch the gates
for anything so much as a lock of hair,
your bracelet rolling in, unimpeded.
Rationalization the offspring of hope
and I vaguely recall something
relevant written above the door.
This morning I woke in tears,
punching some old Italian man
who would not cease laughing.
When I fish I catch
nothing. And this surprises
me every time.
Things are moving around me;
I sense this but cannot observe it.
Doors here lead to other doors
with heavier knobs, hinges that peal
with the monotony of every noon.
There is music here,
kettle drums played
with doves. At night
my bones dance.
They tell me it is marvelous
so it must be marvelous.
If you aren’t able to go
I’ll pick them up on the way
home from Phil’s on Tuesday.
What was your name
I can’t shake the feeling
there’s something I’m supposed
to forget or else have forgotten
to recall, and I recall
the cool sun sliding into
my mouth and little else. I pray
for a shadow, and that prayer
falls back onto my head.
BRANDON AMICO is from New Hampshire. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for Indiana Review’s 2013 Poetry Prize. He co-edits the online journal SWARM