Zillah, Washington (For Justin)

Just writing the word on paper brings me closer to you.

Zillah, Indian and religious,
small, corner shell, though

I can see you boyish,
coattails, gritty nails on a bicycle
parading down sandy streets where
the lampposts stop burning around
ten o'clock.

Where the stars milk heaven like hungry
infants to a well-starved mother.

In Zillah your body grew like a corn stalk reaching higher,
higher, like the 100 mg of valium swimming through your
system like a fish -

Pieces, born on my fathers birthday,
lifeguard, swollen arms, chlorine blue,
bloated with a child in your hands, holding
tight triggers on the diving board, jumps -
summersault, mid air, the hair on you
body stands rigid at the waters edge.

This is the edge of my poem -
the edge of you - in Zillah.

You talk about once upon a time
wanting to become a teacher, marrying a girl
named Nikki, and settling down,

this was before the pills of course, before the
blue ones, and the white ones, and the
red ones that say Refresh.

Renew? I never guessed, though in
that sleeping slumber I can see you -
hands on head, staggering, one foot
in front of the other.

Faltering, like a sky falling,
like a drug addict reliving the lover.

I'm sure that you held that high in your hand like
a woman, a mother, or a sister, virginal every time
to its potency - it's


You could drink me under the table
But I could fuck you under that same table with my
systems dry, clean, like moonshine, filled
with nothing but wanting,

to be on the same level with you,
the same footing.

To carry a carbon copy of Zillah in my jeans pocket
and pull it ever time you call me a sweetheart.

Every time I stretch myself too deep into emotion, just to fold
myself wounded at the center of it.

Every time you talk about a past high, like a past
girlfriend that I shrivel with jealousy for.

If I whispered Zillah during our love making would
it de-age you, pull the hair from your face
and change you.

Would it save you?
Or maybe save me?

Zillah, Zillah, Zillah ...

Just writing it leaves me closer to you.