pull of  
the abyss
I walk out to the mailbox and though
there is no letter from you again, there is
a free trip to Japan,
and a box of chocolate-covered haiku,
and I eat the haiku though they are
strictly off my diet,
and I forward the free trip to Japan,
which is not addressed to me anyway,
to its rightful recipient.

I walk out to the mailbox and find
the path particularly long, unusually steep,
rutted and rocky but dry at least,
and the mailbox hands me a letter -
the letter is from an ex-wife -
she is gloating about her recent sexual experiences
with a prior ex-husband -
and I take the letter back to the house with me,
up a particularly steep and rocky path home,
and repackage it with a cover letter
to the editor of Handjob,
and glide back down the hill to the mailbox
which accepts this gift in the spirit given,
swallows it like cough syrup,
with a tiny burp.

I walk out to the mailbox and am moved
by the mailbox's inner beauty -
I open the mouth of the mailbox,
pull out its long aluminum tongue
and it regurgitates to me a t-shirt catalog
from the fat guy clothing store,
but the fat guy clothing store catalog t-shirts
shrink after a few washings
so that fat guys can't wear them anymore,
and I put the catalog back in the mouth of the mailbox
like a wafer to its tongue
and close the jaw and pull up the
red flag.

I walk out to the mailbox alert to dodge
the drug-crazed grannies of death,
who drive Plymouth minivans up and down my street
tranqued out on multiple prescriptions
of Medicaid serotonin reuptake inhibitors,
valium and alprazolam, health store valerian
and reds from the bingo palace,
cursing me through their rolled-up windows,
waving bony fingers I try to ignore -
and find the mailbox full of birthday cards.

I walk out to the mailbox just as
the sun comes out, blazing like death,
and Ed McMahon appears from behind a bush
waving a big sign FREE! - FREE! - FREE!
a check the size of a billboard rises
behind him and he yells to me,
"this check could have your name on it, if...."
and I run back to the house muttering
"I'm sorry I cannot afford to accept
any more gifts at present."

I walk out to the mailbox
and instead of your letter I find
a small white envelope from the IRS
and I know it is not a check
and I feel like a '78 Firebird with one
plug wire off, straining up a mountain road,
sputtering and missing, the hot smell of
burning oil, radiator hissing, wheel drawn by
the pull of the abyss.

I walk out to the mailbox and the mailbox contains
an inflatable wheelchair,
and I pull it out and blow
into one tire and blow into the
other tire and blow up the frame, the seat,
the back, the little wheels in front
until I am too tired too tired to stand
and I sit down but the wheelchair grabs me,
pulls out huge rolls of duct tape,
tapes me down and I am
glad you are not here to see me,

I roll out to the mailbox and find a card
from the government granting me health,
and a bill from the government for
"health and other services,"
but the bill is more than I can pay
and I push my wheelchair into the envelope,
seal it with a kiss, and send it off,
postage due, and still I feel better.

I walk out to the mailbox and find
a woman is leaning against it,
holding a bottle of Jameson's -
she wears a tiny black dress like a message
from inside some smaller bottle,
her red hair the color of sailors' delight,
and I ask "how may I help you," and she says
"do you have any grey poupon?"
And I say no, no I only have regular American mustard,
the yellow kind, taxicab yellow mustard like
for corndogs, and she says, "that'll do, then,"
and the evening begins without error.

I walk out to the mailbox and
I walk out to the mailbox and
I walk out to the mailbox and turn and
cannot see my way home, the mailbox glistens
like an iceberg in the chill winter morning air,
foghorns in the far and bitter distance,
and I stand on the slanting deck of my life
as the band strikes up one last tune
and deck chairs slide past me into the
cold Atlantic, whispering
your name.


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