Alex Lemon

There is a devil buried 

Deep in each man & I have


Named mine Happy Fun

Go Go. It looks at me,


Just stares & a knitting

Buzz maps my skin.


Always, without speaking

To me a single slashing


Word, I know what I must

Do—Top hat, shower of botflies,


Serve the pale pink beef & fail

To understand the rules—only


Hear the calligraphy of leaches

Oilspilling his eyes. Between

Orders, I gum vulture bones

Until they crack, split wide


Like beseeching hands. The spongy

Prize of marrow. Buttery sweet


Blood. I taste as much as I can

In this kingdom of dead pets 


In the park’s tall grass, their raggy

Wrappings chamberworked,


Hived, homed, by mason

Bees. I savor each wondrous

Sting, each splinter. Pumpkin ash,

Catalpa—the elephant heart


Plums like hundreds of dark

Fists—limbs bowing dirtward.


Here, the credo is a coffin-deep

Mouth. A guttery song that quarrels


Up from the buckling, potholed

Street. For the sugar drippings,


The once upon a time, I wring

Fragility from day’s last light.


Inside me: it’s no good anymore.

Inside me: that been & gone, bog-

Clutched breath that choked me

Each time I popped the slick 


Dentures from grandma’s stroke-

Still maw. To keep it between


The moon, the version of me

Bottomed out in my deep & this me


Right here, each midnight I take 

The blasting radio up on


The roof. After sinking into

The bodyheat of the shingles,


I press into me the hi-fi

Plastic & dials Clutch it, until


My hollows lace electric—hum

The endless murmur of strangers


& suddenly I am holding within

Me everything of the world:


Sun-bleached lawn flamingos,

A summer’s worth of peach pits


Rattling in a jam jar. But before

I know it, a purple line crazes


The horizon—slowly up painting

The boulevard into the day’s full


Wallop. The budding magnolias

Go blue & orange & fever-


White & then a day arrives with

Choked gasping, a fade to black.


Gloved hands that flourish


Like a magician’s, fold back a white


Sheet precisely to the bloodless

Inch of skin below my Adam’s apple,


The grub-like pallor that I will glow

With after the black box in my guts


Finally says it’s time to kneel,

Wrangle a whipping shoelace in 


The careening path of a garbage

Truck, the instant the metronomic


Ticking of the bomb in me stills. 

The silence loiters, leadens until


Sudden howls shatter me forever

Into sleep. Already, I can feel


That rabid heat coming. A riot

Of mayflies in the streetlight’s


Salmon haze. All of that will

Show in its own good time.


The wind gusts tiny thuds

From the rustdown screen


Door. Each second that wells

Around me I am climbing out


Of a bed after a long & terrible

Illness, I am leaning in to kiss


A car wreck, the monster. In me,

It croons—a throating half-


Way between pain & beautiful

Song. All of it is unbearable


But this always is overtime.

A chain of paper swans coils


Out for miles, up the rivering

Scree of the mountain & into


The invisible distance. I refuse

To stop wanting more joy


Than I have been allotted. I will make

Brilliant even a fleabite of blood.



Found In Volume 46, No. 03
Read Issue
  • 2009 alex lemon
Alex Lemon
About the Author

Alex Lemon is the author of five books, including Mosquito (Tin House Books, 2006), Hallelujah Blackout (Milkweed Editions, 2008), Fancy Beasts (Milkweed Editions, 2010), and The Wish Book (Milkweed Editions, 2014) and Happy: A Memoir (Scribner, 2010).