Dura Mater

By RE Katz

In the fox dead there are rivalries:
around whose neck will we unfurl
& whose makings will we glove
& where we used to run
are there still runners
& if not are there mourners
& if not is there
at the very least
morning—a room
where bits of poured
sun cool17.

Crickets in the mint: what
it means or what is meant
woods over
to play a game of roulette
closed-eyed in the backseat
head on the door
sun red sun.

Stop: my mother has a heart attack
& doesn’t call me until three days
later when they let her out
of the hospital18.

In an operetta
a handgun
with the ability to feel pain
falls in love
with a human liver
in crisis. When the liver
finally speaks
all it says is
none of this is useable.

The king of the forest is both animal & fruit
& has two throats
of gunpowder & light.
If you bury your gun in the ground
it will grow into a cigarillo factory.

To the melonhearts in garnet mines
say at least there are birthdays.
Our birthdays are neighbors19
flatness is an axis.

Stop: my mother calls to report her blood
pressure & I eat three slices of cake
thinking about how on a family cruise I once saw
an ice sculpture of an endangered dolphin—
it was such a goner.

I touch myself
with a square
of trembling bent light20.

Stop: the ladder is lying on the floor
in the fetal position muttering
I am not
tall I am not tall I am
not tall.

Describe what it feels like
using only your shoulder
what taproot rapport
to go tail-up to work.
The nervous system will sell you a map
of its pitfalls in a sealed unpolished container:
the floating ribs
the little hips of the brass section
vertebrae and their inner stipends
the clavicle unchaperoned

poor head
hates itself
for not being able to get down.

It takes years to appreciate
the inside of a couch
glitter in a meat grinder
a fallaway promenade21.

I let it kiss
a full third of my face then
feetfoot away. Fool that elbow
crook. Leg of it
a low note. Yawn of it
very skied.

Hover here if need be
for a plum gradient22
a one-night raisin.
If you’re not staying famous
you can stay
in my basement.

Stop: mother bored23
Lullabies into my brain.

I’m not afraid of my own blood but of
parenting transparencies.
A mustard from my brain is leaking
painting a fake24
fence that levitates
a fence that can be chased
a face
a thin-lipped paste.

The tyranny of being interesting says take
the solo when the solo is offered
but nobody hurt each other
in the orange juice
out there.

So it’s Monday morning &
here I am doing
my donut-on-a-stick kind of thing
and there’s this guy
leaning against the water cooler
talking about how he used to be
a stage acrobat
and I say hey guy well I’ve never
seen someone do
a boring backflip
but anything is possible25—Stop: 

shiver-call your mother!
flock what she’s doing
just raft her now or
terminate her.

People used to be afraid of women
so of course I am overwhelmed with love
for Sarah Connor
all three of her
how needles bow to her
every piece of the franchise.

Centuries ago the Fox sisters heard tapping
from the other side26
three shuffling heads
tsk-tsking at the great beyond.

Somewhere cockroaches are having
almost a block party
they collect around our feet
because we feed them & care
for them & step on their heads

& if each of us is the only exception
to every ugly thing forever27 then aren’t we also
a hard mother.

Originally published 4/22/15 within her Awst Collection. This piece is the second piece from her chapbook. The third piece, Toeing the Real, is an essay of annotations based on the first two pieces and was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize.