RULE 1 OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAWS OF WAR

I’ve seen you in recently taken pictures.

The niceties of souvenir t-shirts, suns of the south.

Fuck me, maybe you’ll soon have one of your own.

For them, you stand near the back with a smile.

When they grow up, they’ll remember you, and they’ll recall the warm Florida air

the way I once did,

In pictures and in trinkets.

I found my lanyard of park pins in the attic, a couple weeks back,

While my mother and I were emptying the house

For the realtors to take their photos

Of everything set right.

The Buzz Lightyear pin, that used to flash when the battery was still good,

Was the one I remembered the best.

Like when I was a child, and you jumped on my bed to cheer me up.

“To Infinity and Beyond” you yelled,

And your weight broke the wooden bedframe.

I can almost remember our old house back then,

In pictures with our old dog, and the tiny back yard

where the previous owners had left a rusting old boat hull.

In the new pictures, you don’t look much older than you did

in similar photos of you and I.

Back with my bowl cut hair,

when I barely came up to your waist.

It’s not their fault, I keep saying.

But I can’t help but think when I see them,

of your excuse.

“We’re not the only family to end up this way.”

And in that vein,

I can’t help but reply to your nameless figure,

If I should decide to keep the name.

“How painfully, abhorrently common “

With those fucking mouse-ear hats,

And those God damn smiles.

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Embrasure

My room is on the first floor, off of the great hall. Its not really ours any more though- its on the market. It was after Avalon was sold, a little after my grandfather died. When the Green Knight came to call, and Tristan and Isolde were best friends until she of the white hands, and the eventual divorce.

I remember, when I was young, my grandfather took my family to Scotland, to the ruined keeps amidst rolling farmland. I remember my father bought me and my brother wooden swords from the castle gift shop. There are photographs, of us climbing across the half tumbled walls after one another, and the plywood blade smacked hard into young wrists.

I found one of the swords once a few years back, covered with rot and mildew from the damp of our basement. The rope cross guard had come untwined and frayed, and the hilt is now too small for my hand. I remember springing out of rented cars with it, to ready in the old way, using my belt loop as a sheath. To read from the Exeter Book by candle light: the Ruin, like the alimony, not giant’s work or any faithful design. Only faith in my brother, who was with me then, as he is now.

He and I have seen modern ruins, castle condos- made of linoleum, wood paneling, and appliances from the 70s. The kind my father grew up with, is what he told us- the first time we visited his new place on Harbor Hill. The lord my father died in his sleep, my mother might have preferred to say, if his body had not up and left, mind without a trace. My grandfather’s last word was his wife’s name. My mother told me that some time after the house he’d built was sold.

I remember my father in portraiture, when his face was young, and he wore glasses and was unshaven from time to time. In his great hall the pictures are gone. I wander- out of my room, to where the Christmas tree once was. They’d collected ornaments for it like precious jewels for the vault.

But I am standing in the great hall of an older ruin far away, where the wind calls quiet through the weeds of a now ruined rampart, like the weeds I once removed from my mothers garden as part of my chores. It brings his voice, wandering across moss stone. Ry-de he he called me when I was a child. He still does, starting the first time he saw me since he moved.

The keep is the next town over, with gates wide open, he told me. I can go whenever I want, and maybe help him decorate, or move furniture. But the land is blocked, wild and untamed hills of Waves, and my mother has tossed out the sword in the stone with the weeds and the wedding photographs.

But I am far from the rubble, in the settled rock of Goodrich. Study abroad, and run. In the ruins of the place, no harm can come to me. The conditions of a Visa say so. Until  I must ride out after a year and one day, and face the green of Harbor Hill with a wooden sword pulled from the basement like stone.

I Waterlogged the Electric Kettle

Board games on the coffee table with the dual innocence where we once were as children,

but now soiled skin.

There’s too much baggage in our collective bedrooms. So start anew at six and seven. Benefits of skipping the younger years, maybe fashion someone that will share in your condition.

Throw open the sash after Christmas, a spring cleaning of sons. I should have noticed sooner,

but you covered your bases, assured me of the unchanging nature of things. I remember your embrace when I left for Ireland at the airport.

But of course it’s changing. And you knew that even then, since November or before. You delayed me- got to me first. Before I was standing at the sink, holding the electric kettle under the tap, when I noticed and forgot the water running cool over my hands.

The thought came then.

Replaced.

Replaced.

Replaced.