Godzilla and The Dead Boy’s Doppelganger
Dear dead brother,
I can never see the actor
without seeing your forehead,
nose, ears, hair
and overall stature.
I can never see Godzilla without
bowls of Captain Crunch
all those Saturday mornings
when Mother was at the beauty parlor
and Daddy mowed the lawn
(a ten by ten square that took hours),
or else fussed with wrenches
to fix who knows what,
while you and I watched
Japanese monster movies
because you were older and stronger,
took control over the TV,
and that’s what you wanted to watch.
All that screeching,
all those explosions,
all those cities getting destroyed,
nothing like the real thing
in lower Manhattan
that turns you into the dead boy.
bigger than we thought our lives
ever could be,
even on the tiny screen
of a black & white.
Rodan, King Ghidorah,
for those noisy ninety minutes,
badder than any trouble
Mother could throw our way.
Now, you are dead almost a year
and it’s a rainy Saturday morning.
I lay drowsy on the couch
flipping through channels
to find a Godzilla remake
starring Matthew Broderick.
It’s Matthew Broderick
as my brother the hero,
and for these ninety minutes
you aren’t the dead boy any more,
and you are more than
the hero of New York City.
You are the hero
of your own life
and of mine too.
you are the hero
of all the mutant,
The usual soughs and susurrations of the night:
by the gnashing of teeth against wood.
The dog, a sighthound, stays curled
in the effortless circle of her sleep.
And my darling wife, a soft dune
beneath our blankets, lies as still
as a windless beach. I let them slumber,
while I rest lightly on the hammock
of their twined breathing, eyes closed,
but vigilant in the theater of sleep,
awaiting the next movement
in nature’s nocturne of percussion.
The night-blackened ceiling looms,
like all the ceilings of my childhood:
floor of some improbable heaven.
No nightmares of monsters then:
they inhabited the daylight
and didn’t trouble my sleep—
unlike whatever unknown creature
lurks on heaven’s creaky floorboards
and gnaws at the beams of our attic.
There are people here, I want to tell it,
and I wander the dark upstairs hall
looking for a stick or pole to rap
the undersides of its feet above,
send it packing with its hunger and its need
and, possibly, some mewling kits in tow.
My sweetheart’s body stirs but does not rise,
remains a rise on the relief map of our bed,
as I tap the trapdoor with a foam roller,
pretending I embody true danger.
The dog whimpers from inside her dream.
But the attic is quiet now. The streets
are quiet. And we, too, turn toward quiet,
all breath and sighs and blissful ignorance.
My dream life takes me
to faraway places—
inside a painting by Rene Magritte,
or a ruined chapel
in the woods in Italy,
or that time in Brussels,
when I was twenty.
standing in my high-ceilinged apartment,
parting the lace curtains,
and furtively looking down to see
two men in dark suits and hats,
assassins who had followed me home,
standing openly in the light of the streetlamp,
then hiding in shadows by the park’s stone wall.
I see myself at the tall casement window,
my thin hand testing the latch,
my worried eyes of clouds and sky,
my suitcase open on the bed behind me;
but then again it’s also true
that I can’t remember if that day in Brussels
I was actually followed
or if I dreamed the whole affair.
It no longer really seems to matter.
The assassins stalk and pursue me still,
biding their time outside in the dark,
whispering in French under the pines
and waiting for an opportune moment,
while upstairs in our bedroom, my wife
and I enshroud our faces in white cloth
and embrace the mystery of the other.
Death Spends Halloween at the Country Bar
I don’t just park one stilettoed heel
on a barstool rung and order my whiskey neat
under your appraising question-marked eyes.
I’m the cold curved stare of the mounted beasts
that skulk and lurk on the walls longing
to plant hoof and fang in your supple neck.
I’m that last bourbon you slugged down
lingering in your liver and squeezing
with sluggish and watery fingers.
I’m the pack of smokes you hipchecked
out of the rusty machine in back, every coil
of cancer you suck into your lungs.
I hitched a ride here with the mandolin player,
called shotgun in a flurry of splintered glass
and bad judgment, but the kid’s got promise.
Later I will hover behind you in the 4 a.m. line
at the gas station but you won’t even notice
except for that back of the neck cold prickle.
I’m the surging anger and too-thin Plexiglas.
The grease-smeared wax paper of day-old donuts.
The sloppy wad of bills and caved hunger of addictions.
The back alley fumbling.
The stubborn refusal.
The concrete misstep.
The eyelids fluttering shut
behind a wavering wheel for
one short breath too long.