The Soundscape of Life Is Charred by Tiny Bonfires

Two bedtimes ago, through my window,
I heard a cat get eaten.

As the cat split, it sounded like
a balloon string put to scissors

to make curls so the birthday boy
would smile extra wide.

Last night, by the same window,
I heard mostly my breath, inside of which

was a small baby suckling
my air for his milk.

When I bolted upright, the baby
grew up into a carpenter,

nailing his brains into the side of my lung
to babyproof the light switch.

Flip the switch and it lights
a picture of my emaciated, sore-ridden bum

for my breath to laugh at.
Why is my breath so unlike yours?

My ears? Why do I only hear such unnatural things?
Although, come to think of it, death is completely natural.

I’m just exasperated. Everywhere life-sounds
swarm this, our shared pond, like mating turtles.

Cars whoosh, schmoozers hum,
snakes spit poison, Martin and Martina say yes

and sob and hold, but my ears fill up instead
with eggshells cracked by the bumbling parents.

I cleaned my left ear out,
but my nail cut the drum.

It filled with water
and is deaf for now.

I’m leaving the right one dirty. No sudden changes.
Keep everything dry. Let it figure out a way to heal itself.

And me:  just practice living with yourself  deaf.
Sometimes your brain is as unwelcome

as muscles or guns. It’s obvious to others. Maybe even
everyone. Don’t wish for anything. Don’t get organized.

Don’t buy a book. Don’t go to bed early.
Seek out beige, in foodstuffs and landscapes.

Chew gum if  you’re overwhelmed.
You’re in this alone. That means there’s nobody to stop you.

You’re almost at the finish line.
But first, you have to pick a finish line.

More Poems by Max Ritvo