He discovers it at the heart of everything & gives it a name: plutonium. Never had much of a system for regret or use for apologies, yet he finds it in the protoplasm of lovemaking, in the nuclei of his fuzzy thoughts, in the hearts of women a Pluto & some exploding planets away. In the white meltdown of a room, he tells a girl who treads on silver: I have your chemical formula. I can turn you into an acid wind. Or I can stop you with love. Saddened by her destructive properties, the girl goes away, plants herself in the center of the earth. There are mysterious love letters. Some read: How can we undo what we have done? One day, a girl without little fingers tells him that plutonium has already been discovered, that he has been too late for everything. Now nameless, he considers a new future in plastics. He turns into water, is in exile wherever he goes. The girl at the center of the earth stays mushroom-silent. The funny sister on billboards, the one who spreads jam across everything, wears gloves and dark glasses in twin beds. This, she thinks, will prevent the spread of her radioactive goo.
whenever the women with eyes east or under
sneak me some spikenard and cardamom
in a waxy daydream post-nasal drip,
i become the boy who couldn't get out
of bed who in time became both sender
& recipient of mail w/ outdated stamp
the lover of a girl with 3 gretchens
in her name she planted
saffron under my bed whispered oily
nutty in my vertigo sleep when the
world was so soggy everything fell through
the membranes w/ eyes closed
This is about the man who planted peppercorns but kept thinking about lone elms, the rasping of dry leaves. This isn't about daughter-in-laws or fruit bats. It wasn't a season to fish for compliments. The afternoons were bruised eyes, splotchy cheeks near koi ponds. This isn't about sugary tongues & the epiphany of light bodies. They could not hide their bunions. More often than not, he skinned navel oranges without thinking & her hair tended to flop. On damp days, they felt wedged in by strangers, drained by their spouses with rough finger pads. This is about the last letter he sent to his wife. Her voice was near-zero. In the end, everyone stopped counting.
Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poetry and prose: Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications). His latest e-books are You Never Die in Wholes from Good Story Press and The Truth about Onions from Good Samaritan. He lives and writes in New Jersey.