It has & always will be
a hundred-dollar bill Yes,
this is the instrument of cultured grief:
faded paper snot-reeked and spun
into the shape of a pen cap –
now observe the undercurrent,
that violent grip of warmth barreling
their bodies into silence & also
those beached whales sputtering up
around me pleading
for one more wave & I know
what you’re thinking;
what is glamorous about
a room pregnant
with people sinking
into the floorboards, thinking themselves
as joyful as a school of parrotfish?
I can tell you this:
when the tide breaks, the body
glistens & begs to be beaten again
with salt. The salt tastes richer
the second time around. I can tell you
when I found myself midocean
with a wad of a washed-out hundred
crushed between my thumbs I could not weep.
There was so much music in that dark.
I heard my mother sing & for the first time
since her absence, I laughed. It was,
of course, at nothing. The room full of
drug-thirst dripping at the seams.
It was, of course, not my money.
I was penniless and craving something
still I cannot tell you I will ever find.