Alex Lemon

                                                          Anthony Carbajal

                                                          Anthony Carbajal

from Or Beauty


I only want to sleep
hard in the little things

I believe in tennis shoes
nailed to each apple tree

in the garden
the gunked ground

puddled with mirrors
of water

glimmering exits
from this world

the silverflamed husks
of insects scurry around

me over thigh-piled garbage
bags dragged to the curb

for tomorrow’s trash pick up
a soiled mattress torn window

screen coiled rug
I sit in the fetid black

mound in a rocking chair
a racketing cloud

of flies above me
blocks out the moon

beneath my tongue
there is a wet convulsion

passing cars blur
the night purple

it is just another night
for them they will say nothing

is wrong over & again
if even they wonder at all

in the rotting bark
a termite chews

writes that all of the pills
are long gone long gone

then carves out my name
before gnawing an X

through it
I can no longer speak

about sword swallowing or love
how some day we might rise

nude in the backyard sunlight
after a night of rain

the elm tree is leafed
with gunked-up old photos

I say god good god
to the face in each

after the dark drops
with birds bleating

in the branches
I huff dreadstruck

in the throat
wanting so badly

to believe
that someone

will take
care of us

when the marl comes
dying to taste

the last little bite
of our singing

splotched among the knotweed
in the boulevard

melting plastic bags
bristle the whistleberry

I backpack the litter
find receipts faded

bottle caps candy
wrappers unopened mail

the wind gusts
when the smir starts

the bags rumple & screech
this is the way

things are
today I want

to be here
my dirt dark fingertips

perfectly working

only at dusk does
the city’s coppery haze

to unstrangle

my thoughts
we belong to no one

I hum to myself
lightning loves

the live oak
it wishbones

darkness swamps
the overgrown lot

I pass through
bundled in shadow & duct tape

a statue-still
homeless man

lying flat on his back
fibbers at the purpling sky

to not forget
both of us are singing

the names
of the dead

I know
when we close

our eyes
we share a vision

a lumpy slough
of butchered roosters

over the white-tiles
at the room’s center

a dreadlock-furred goat
stands tremble-kneed

on a too-bright steel table
bloodshot eyes wide

open as it bleats

Alex Lemon is a proponent of electric lyricism whose poetry collections include Fancy Beasts, Hallelujah Blackout, both available from Milkweed Editions, and Mosquito, available from Tin House Books. A star catcher for the Macalester College baseball team during his freshman year, this writer’s life trajectory veered after he suffered a stroke at the age of 19, a situation detailed in his bestselling memoir, Happy. He lives in Fort Worth and teaches at Texas Christian University.