she stretches

mouth spreads

i see a snare

she hugs me

breathes life into me

i am caught

against the pillow of her

i feel skeletal

she is too mushed weak

with sleep or i would

snap in her

my skin feels thin

i am a rubber glove

stretched over a twig hand

and we struggle to stay


two hands holding

intertwined like twine

wrapped up

loose ends lost

in the knotted


like two hands




on the way to the

church for her

mother’s third


she asks me about

something she found

on a napkin

some nonsense i wrote

is this supposed to be about me?

she asks me

is this supposed to be a test?

i ask me

i see a snare

what’s the right answer?

what’s the right question, more to the

point–but more to the point, what’s the

point?   and what

right is right?

light a cigarette at the light

well, is it?

she repeats

i see red

i taste ash

is she stoking something

or stamping something out?

we’re moving again

i see the steeple

stabbing upwards

like the mast of a sunken

ship washed ashore

the rain crawls up the glass

smashed into streams

by the motion

but we are still

in silent stasis

the street sweats

i see it through the transparent

face upside down as though

hanging down from the sky and

crying up

pebble chips like eyes drooling

web lashes bleeding clean and clear

washing nothing


blinding drool

stare forward

(where else?)

the shield a mirror

should be fixed

before the cracks

spread and fill it

and shield is

fractured fragmented

void all

cracked up

park in the spot

marked PASTOR

but get no pleasure from it

not even wicked


she asks me one more time about the napkin

step out and let

my hair drench down

over my face, the strands covering like


know if i were to

let a tear fall now it

would be camoflauged

and i feel safe

all wet

in my element

shut the door

walk toward the


a fish into a dead dry wreck

where new wrecks are


mouth waters as

mind smells a


fingers feel bound and

bloodless with the

squeeze of nonexistant


start up the steps

solid, soiled

never answer her question

stop, turn head

still she sits in the car

for some reason i think she may be

crying but i cannot tell through the

cracked splashed screen of

glass, the shield,

she may, i think,

she just may

turn back, continue up

feel like i’m crawling

finally hear the car door slam

i never answer

inside on the pew like a

bum on a bench

still feel cold with

wet fingers around me

ceremony ends

feeling remains


as she introduces me

to her family

can’t look them in the eye

never could

just shaking hands

i am a hand

released now, i feel,




copyright1998 by Dustin Hansen