#2 9 0
B E N M I L L E R
I shed me.
A husk slides to the floor.
Now I'm standing and lying in the living room.
Should I be sad?
Should I scream?
It didn't hurt.
I went incredibly smoothly.
No pressing, no pushing.
I thought maybe there was a window open.
An oily breeze blowing across my skin.
But the underneath that is now my overneath is dry.
More delicate than the previous version, save in the face.
My lips are rougher.
Prickle like hay.
O Bottom, thou art changed!
Has the mule in me finally purified itself of pain?
If being skinned alive doesn't hurt how could anything else?
Might I do it onstage if money got tight?
Could I teach other people how to do it at the Learning Annex?
Could it get me a Fulbright or a Guggenheim?
Would it have gotten me into Harvard?
Is it genetic?
Should I call my brother and warn him?
Should I tell my wife or would it scare her too much?
Is it because I tasted rattler years ago in Texas?
If so, why the time lag?
If not, what was the trigger?
Why this particular day of this particular week?
A week that was nothing too special.
Lukewarm weather, wine stained windows.
The same on-going construction work.
The usual mouths jarring open.
America is easy to fake.
Glad to meet you, Mr. Slight.
Desire political change? Xerox, highlight, deliver.
I did see a young mother
change a diaper
in a subway tunnel
under the East River
while grandmother looked on,
Pull, pull, flip, flip, pull, pull, dispose.
Three minutes start to finish.
No spills or bobbles,
every wipe a home run.
Did I learn something?
Was I finally inspired?
People effect each other.
Only one is effected by so
many others, dead and
alive, at any given moment,
that the influences churn
into a marzipaste that's
impossible to parse,
flip, flip, pull, pull, dispose.
She didn't blink, that mother.
Eyes white with milk.
Teeth stained with coffee.
Did her tired smile open a door for me?
Let the wind in?
There I lie,
rumpled like a rag rug
that's recently endured
a stampede of guests.
Here I stand,
on the end of each wrist
and cheek only a cow could love.
Or a rancher.
Or a rancher's daughter.
I should look in a mirror.
I shouldn't look in a mirror.
It's too soon. I'm too excited.
Best to stay here, watch over the old me.
I was on my way somewhere and yet
where can where be but right here?
It's a truly amazing thing to see.
My former surface.
A thin but comprehensive scraping.
A gigantic condom in the shape of me.
A condom with my face and wearing my clothes.
I flatten out the rumples
with little kicks and foot scoots.
Now I don't look like a condom or a rug
but a translucent bear bagged
on a trip to a fragile region of Alaska.
I prop up the mouth to enhance the illusion.
I can almost hear the gunshot when I close my eyes.