I was slitting my wrists in the tub again.

This could be your big break, I heard

you laughing in my ear, the vibration

of your breath that close and hot,

I could’ve ripped it off right there

This could be your big break, a joke

so black and sick that we kept it hushed.

I was listening to the Monkees’ “Porpoise Song,”

humming the verses, twirling my finger

in the bathwater redder and redder.

Words like solute and solvent came to mind

and left. The droplets following my finger

were just so beautiful, that I wasn’t ready.

I wanted to stay there forever in that perfect

poinsettia tub. Each chord felt like coming.

My grade school teacher, Mrs. Hall,

held her hands stretched at her left side

and there was a door, then a long corridor.

I climbed out of the warm Christmas bath,

and the stars just slid around her hands.

What Goes On

Lately, there’s always something new,                                 

something tragic on the television,                                      

which makes it harder to ignore.                                         

Print is just another plot unfolding.                                   

A single photograph of a sullen boy                                            

on the screen, then a snapshot of a girl,

her face all gloss and shine and smile.

It hits me hard. The girl in the photo

is the same skinny, sulking boy

who’s been dragged from a party, beaten,

strangled with a leather belt, and buried

not deep enough in the barren foothills

by two high school boys in Newark,

California, which does not sound sunny

like Santa Clara or San Diego, but

reminds me of gray airports and stolen cars.

What’s sadder is his weeping mother,

who loved her son, or Gwen—the woman’s

name he borrowed from a pop star—

unconditionally, even bought him skirts.

Behind it all, an envious girl, caught

briefly refusing the camera, who told

the boy she’d been wanting for weeks,

that the girl he’d been kissing had a dick.

Was it most awful that the killer liked

the kiss, liked the man’s tongue in his mouth?

So much that his skin crawls still, in his cell,

a revulsion even revenge can’t stop.

I wonder what’s the harm in it—

Does desire make death the thing deserved?

Betrayal, envy. Always violence at the core.

Vices marching on like commercials.

Nobody wants to think too much,

so I focus on small things, how the cat

curled at my feet keeps his belly so white,

when my soles are stained shoe-polish black.

I can’t forget the mother. Her fingers flicking

a speck of lint on her lap below the lens.

I’m moved by the way her words capture love.    

I’m going to bury him in the prettiest dress.                              

kara candito