They’re installing blue lights in the laundromat bathroom.
Harder to find a vein that way, but the needle keeps
yearning into the body, trial and error, dots that would look
red in daylight here a dark star chart of failed attempts. Describe
obedience without using the word kneel, without calling back
dogs from where they’re fighting for the fox’s tail, and all
anyone hears will be a chandelier’s muscles straining
not to let gravity unleash its glass. I carry two knives. One
digs initials into bathroom stalls, scrapes gum from under
tables, pews, eyelids; the second I save for the black rope
holding you against the tracks. Again, again, I lift
you just before the train cuts you to pieces, all your limbs
squeezed bloodless so you stumble like a newborn animal.
Take for granted that my hands are full and sharp, don’t throw me
any babies from the burning tenement. Odd that a hush
falls, silence descends upon the crowd before the first gun
fires at an execution—like a parachute, or something
taloned, some force bears down upon the gathered mouths.
Hush must happen to the eyes, too: seeing only long enough to
erase the blue lips, splayed arms of the woman on the sidewalk.
You will get snot on your hand when administering Narcan.
Coughed on, probably. But the drug must enter the nasal
openings, sprayed near the brain, seeping through
mucus and membrane to revive the nearly dead. Hope,
for us, was never so important as what we saw written
on each other’s faces in the moment hopelessness
rolled over us like a wave of lost warhorses breaking for
the trees. On the subway, I lean over to watch
mice delighting in the trash that gums the crossties. I can’t
escape the sense that something must be mine to save.
Josh Myers’s poems have appeared in Iron Horse, Passages North, Missouri Review, Copper Nickel, Poetry Northwest, Nashville Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. He received the Atticus Review Prize for Poetry.