My Daddy believed in self-improvement, so he made me swim ten thousand miles. He believed that because we were genetically linked, he owned my strength.
Lance Armstrong, another athlete, tangled in spokes of disgrace, goes on TV and says that taking performance enhancing drugs was as necessary for him as the air in his tires,
Then my daddy he drove me home in his bright blue Rambler. He was wearing a white button-down sport shirt, black slacks , shiny black shoes, and was humming—
the same air the rest of us were breathing, believing that Lance would deliver us from Cancer, maybe other diseases as well, Muscular Dystrophy, Gout, Ebola…
I've got a mule/ Name is Sal/ Fifteen years on the Erie Canal/ She's a good old mule/ a good old pal/ Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
Then Lance goes home, leaves his shoes at the door, hunkers down in a giant bird’s nest he’s built in his living room, using twigs he brought back from France.
My daddy turned to me and said, This car meets my every specification.
His nest is bigger than an Osprey’s.
We grow around our bones, our organs. We encase our souls in fat. Our blood tunnels everywhere it can.
Osprey nests can top a half-ton.
Those giant lamps atop our torsos grow brighter. Bulb filaments learn to curl. Short circuits are laid down for future sabotage. Lamp dim, and go out.
There was something fluttering in the back seat, but I didn't turn around because I was still bound in the ropes my daddy had wrapped around me.
Some cells are antsy, feeling restrained. They want to push over the apple cart.
The Rambler’s engine went taptap taptap taptap taptap.
Those cells want the apples to roll from North Carolina to Kentucky. They want to send me chasing them, a Johnny Appleseed without dignity.
Nanci danced at her daughter’s wedding, some abbreviated steps. She still had grace and rhythm, though her Syrian body had burned a lot of energy fighting itself.
My wife wore paper slippers our friend had taken from a Beijing hotel room, a gift pack for guests, and presented to her as a cheap gift. There was also an inadequate toothbrush and some poison toothpaste.
I danced with Nanci, my red paisley tie flapping, sweat rising on my bald head, my body not used to Florida humidity, so far from the dryness of my desert home.
The rug of our hotel in Panama City Beach, on the Redneck Riviera, was so old and dirty that when I walked on it in bare feet (resisting my wife’s suggestion that I slip on her paper slippers) my soles turned black and left coal footprints in our rented bed. At least there were no bedbugs.
I bicycled to the Gulf Coast, shipped my suit. I thought it was a beautiful suit, but when I put it on I realized it was as used up and tattered as Nanci’s body.
Nanci wanted to be reborn, but not as a Christian, not as a human being, nor as an animal, plant or rock. As always, she evaded categories.