Deep Deuce

As phantoms direct life from the shadows,
 
                                                                              I feel
I leaned on something,
                                          and it broke.
 
My father on the porch with his crosswords said,
this must be what it feels like to be dead;
 
When I returned from the dead there was no one to greet me,
but still you are glad—
 
I wander the ruins the way my tongue
wanders my missing teeth,
the bricks and mortar of Deep Deuce
rotted like molars in an ancient mouth;
 
Here Charlie Christian might have walked—
 
The astrologer counseled patience
and creative imaging:
 
                                 Step One: Visualize
an object that symbolizes the accursed influence. Picture yourself throwing
it into a furnace.
 
                                 Step two: Visualize
the person who is responsible for the curse. Imagine one end of a rope
is tied around your waist and the other around that person. Picture yourself cutting
the rope with a chainsaw as you call out, “You have no power over me!”
 
                                 Step three: Repeat
twice a day for eleven days . . .
 
You visualize her green boots inside the furnace . . .
 
—No. You are in a crematorium and you see
her perfect and corruptible body on a tray sliding into fire;
 
Then you see yourself cutting the rope that ties you together with a saw;
 
And then at last your own imperfect and corruptible body—I mean, me—calls out
 
and I jump in after her.

Robert Polito, "Deep Deuce" from Hollywood & God. Copyright © 2009 by Robert Polito.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
Source: Hollywood & God (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
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