I've spent the last few years with an eraser,
trying to uncover the masterpiece under the canvas,
scratching at the crusted-over surfaces:
were there windows? Certainly
there were gaping spaces and cherubim on bicycles
painted over with a dog and a few affairs...
The old subjects were the good subjects.
Love, greed, a stultifying awareness of your arms
need replenishing. The paradise of shifting traumas
slivered into a chorus of bickering interior voices—
everyone had a defect, a mismatched seam, a flaw
you could see through, a pencil thin crack in the cup.
So whatever was distinct about us, bright or sensual,
became sordid, unworthy, a visit to the doctor
where the cancer's fastened to a rib, a series of periods
on an old piece of carbon paper. The twisted
machinations of childhood were nothing more
than a few coughs at the office, to be discounted later,
so while one was changing the channel,
another was soaking the dishes and the third
stood behind her, waiting to sexualize the moment.
Those who had maids understood slavery.
Those who had wives, bosses, those who decorated
according to magazines, those who sat in a chair
while a parent guided their pencil to the right answer,
the dead draped in flags, they also served.
While on the other side of town, on a more personal level
we didn't want to be more nothing, so we slummed
at the chicken shack, where the dead flies on the counter
that looked like jewels were really roaches.