Father is in his workshop in the garage
feeling very Black and Decker.
He’s whittling away at a thick branch
from the Backyard Tree of Life, crafting a magnificent phallus—

ever longer, ever longer it creeps out its albino
tentacle, too thin to bear the weight of its reaching,
a rubbery prop from a golden age sci-fi, fishing tackle
reflecting in the stage lights, the steam machine churning and burping

and someone just off camera yanks maniacally.
The hero dashes out in moon steps that resonate
through sawdust on a wood-planked floor,
plastic ray gun in one hand,
leggy chrome-pantied saucer trash in the other . . . .

The whir and rattle from the workshop, whir and
rattle, whir and rattle . . .

Father says to Son—my father before me,
his father before him . . .

Mother is twirling her executive ladle,
spinning salad, banging on every door
to call on them, to signify the changing of turn.

Her workshop is the world where the florescent lights
are as bright as the sun and no shadow
omens down into the crosshairs of the screw
stripped and scarred by the sightless push and throb
of the fitful twists of the head.

Her grackle hair is shedding on the furniture,
lies in piles in the bathroom, underneath the bed,
her dark wings are raining clean over the roof of the house
as they lift her by her scalp and drag her
shivering, a stone icon of Mary evacuated through the sky.

Mother says to Father—your beer is getting warm,
your food is getting cold . . .

Daughter is growing extra hands for the caduceus
and the gong, and she walks into every tunnel
with a miner’s light like a fatalistic eye in her forehead,
counting cars and trucks, lost sperm shooting through
the concrete gully.

She finds a flawed design
in the motion factories, and a sooty Neanderthal
from the age of shovel, coal, and steam,
asleep or broken, a wind-up ape in smiling blackface
with a rusted spring.

She shrills, “Wake up beast, but
don’t touch me! The efficiency expert is here.”

Daughter says to Mother—I’ve never been to the ocean . . .

Son is pining in his room, diddling his
computer keyboard like a kitten
searching for the yarnball’s soul.

His closets are spilled cornucopias
of digital tapes and discs and silvered dirigibles
of the information age containing
all the smutty images stolen from the tiger who died
in his meat.

The blip of the measuring machines
mounts and concocts a byline for his life,
adding up the burned out tears that,
through some atrocity of plumbing,
will get inside the ocean and drown the whales.

The camera on top the monitor films his treatise
again and again. It must be perfect—the thighmothers
of the world are seeking someone to cherish, someone culpable.

Son says—not me, but the I in me is not I . . .

Father says to Son—man equals meals.
Daughter says to Mother—woman equals woman?
Mother says to Father—man equals garage.
Son says to Family—light has fallen from my fob pockets
into the couch cracks, I cannot go on.

Audience awake!
Laughter. Laughter.

[see note on poem]


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