A rose is a rose, unless it’s the smell of your father
arose from a coke can, wry as an impish djinn who
answers each plainly pensive prayer by ever so
simply plopping upon your plaintive palm,
as cold and lithe as a twelve-foot tarpon, the shell
of an inky compact cracked like a door is cracked,
like a door in Bluebeard’s castle’s hacked
to dispassionate splinters nicked beyond velveted irons
at old Golgotha’s brutalist visitor’s center, a name
on the back of that compact cobbled and
itched in a chipping and blood-colored mud stain

this cosmopolitan stench
of tepid Diet Coke digesting
half-sucked Marlboro cigarettes

in some stannic and stainless sac
that the tin man cracked
from a cleft in my father’s restive breastbone

or but the small of his back, depressed
to a gallstoned playa, a possum’s pouch
some litter of children had riddled with

gamboling stones-throws thrust to but scuttle down
back-hair broken up amongst shadows and sagebrush,
                   bud of a dread teratoma left

tucked in a tattersall collar and mordant remarks
he’d popped from a restless deadpan, things like,
“I’m like a fly,

                          every time I land,
                           I have to smoke.”

(The joke there followed a common thought
that every time a fly should land,
it vomited, certain as rising tides.)

“You see these people
         walking around here?
                      Look at them.

         Every single one of them
                     is miserable,” he
                       rasped in line at the Dr. DeLillo’s
         cramped and dandruffed supermercado,

a clamshell crimped around cream horns

clutched in his arm with a carton of Tab
and a packet of whimsically simpering baseball cards

entombed in that crinkly foil that Wonka’s people used to—so
what siren’s song delights
            in Marlboro Lights snuffed softly
                   tarnishing diet cola, nursing a dulcet ulcer,
              luring the scrier’s marble forth
            to but buff and rebuff in the crook of a cat’s eye,
        green as envy, asparagus, salt-throttled copper,
    a penny uncurled from a crepitant clot of lint
discovered come laundry day’s eve—————————

it spoke to me, Lincoln’s grainy and nasally gait
            all jungle-gymed over my fusing freckles,
like strangling duck weed groaning ammonia brown,
like clown paint penned in upended permafrost:

(recalling the song of the spot resolutions
to both of those staticky Adams in animal heaven,
like M & Ms to a sniggering Quinlan,
Cronus and Saturn confused for adorably pot-bellied
             The sadness from her father’s eyes
was smudged like spoilt potatoes, struck
as a cat’s paw traces inching eternity
over and over their purled and
pensive pools impressed
by a godling’s steed,
by a glumly shuffling palfrey
                                     freed upon dewy and slippery
                          pastures cracked, Sonora reshaped
                                   and steered by the rarest of rains;
old Horseshoe Dam or the hem of the Hellespont cramped
with a bloom of innumerous coke cans, bloated, golden
cigarette packages pressed to a condo
                             for bawdy Mnemosyne,
left still darning stockings for songsters, buskins maybe
blurring the stir between friend and fowl or fool and finicky father—
the water there’d gone opaque as a prattling cataract.”

The year embroidered on Abraham’s homely collar,
‘64 or ‘88, it was hard to see beneath
greenly snickering laundromat ballasts and
                              wheezing machines swept
up in their clumsily fly-eyed cycles.
                                                                         I could
feel it though, with the bridge of my nose,
a nose supposedly stolen clean from my father’s
side, though who really measured it? 
                                                                        I found
four cigarette stubs

I’d sown across squalid pockets,
clung among musty gums of dryer 93 or 94,
the year of the gay divorce, when tuna fish
ceased to tousle and muzzle the backs
                             of bristling bowls and cupboards,
when one lithe, juvenile tuna teased its
nose though a nettling dredge
of rusalki dander.
                                “Your mother
was like a fisherman, and I was
like a fish, and she stuck her rusty
hook in my back, then
  gave me a good look
  over, and, on a lark perhaps,
  the hook in my back still,
  threw me right back into the river.”

His father had loved to fish.
He tried to teach me.
He smoked Marlboro Mediums,
              red as the flesh of a cartoon butcher.
           I’d always loved their sense of humor.

I decided to pick up smoking
as a joke, at twenty-six,
in the shoals of a playskool divorce
across moldering paddocks and mountainous sentries,
            and learned these figures three:

a) there’s a reason it (cigarettes) came to me (clearly).
b) I swore I’d smoke for a year, I’m thirty-four now, never swear.
c) what distinguished a Marlboro Light, it seemed,
                                                 (from anything maybe)
              was simply a vaguely perforate filter.