on the nuclear porch,

asphalt in our sinuses,

sipping what we cannot

swallow. ghosts announce themselves:

the Tings, family of five.

youngest daughter likes watching

songbirds in her pleated skirt.

it’s not about pity, but some kind of

justice. parents do factory work, pipe thickets

to meet our needs until

the accident that is

no accident. it’s a feature, the inevitable

explosion when there are so many that stay intact

to pay for the lawsuit. the smoke powers

our lives, our lungs—how to choose one?

how to cast fault on the neighbors, sliced

and diced blocks on pavement with

sincerity, nothing more dangerous. to point fingers

at the designer, the engineer, the architect,

the people for living & breathing closed eyes, the sun

for stinging radiation. blame the ill

for malingering, blame the dead

for standing quiet

for whispers

for pathos

for not fading

Victor St.

I remember my first death

under dim lights. A smear of fur

and utter dark on the asphalt,

life stretched and flattened onto the killing plane

described by a singular yellow lamp of

suburban wrongness. I snapped

my neck away, blood-phantom-shard-pain

of seeing something terrible in the sublime.

oof, roadkill, my father said, as if we

should be described by how our murderers

twist the knife. All night I dreamt

of vengeance and the black serrated blade

until I was tugged in by the extended arm of my mother

who did not know the new changeling

in her daughter’s body shirking the

garish daylight, helpless to alter our

sun and moon elliptical orbit. Then round the corner

with not-yet-myopic eyes I could see precisely

nothing below new buds of the imprisoned

city pear, midday wheels heaving over

a lacuna blown on the negative reel

of my mind as if maliciously

imagined. I lingered. Here was a

vanished crime scene cleared

of all wrongdoing, not even a televised

sham trial. As my head lightened into her embrace

I could hear my mother’s sinewy panic above

all else, a pietà for the unborn

and undeserving.