We’re made of beer cans and cardboard.
We crease in November wind.
Our blood streams in the whiz of cars.
We groan like engines, wear mismatched boots.
Our eyes are gears that crank a screen
of all the lives we’ll never live to see.
Our skin is yesterday’s New York Times.
Our spines are made of streetlights.
We sweat a stew of soot and grease.
Our Labradors starve in leaves.
We are the keepers of forgotten things:
coffee mugs from Christmas, Rudolph’s
shiny head, handle made of antlers.
The Marilyn Monroe candlestick.
The Yosemite bison magnet.
The badminton racket bent like a busted nose.
A book of Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel—
a masterpiece trapped in plaster. Strangers
give us money, and usually, it’s women.
They way they do it, though,
drop coins in the curves of our palms,
snatch their hands away as if to avoid the fire
of our fingers. Something about touching us,
they don’t like, but something about watching,
they do. We’re the ones young women watch for
when they’re jogging with their iPods.
We’re the men who bathe in rivers, beneath the branches
of summer green. We lie naked on the riverbank,
on a flattened patch of mud. One day I let
a woman watch me, sweaty from her run.
My back against the body of a hard and fallen tree.
The river lapped against my balls, the quiet clap
between my knees. Coils of dark hair wriggled
in the ebb of the river. I let her eyes touch me,
the brown of them, like two fingers dirty with earth.
Being noticed is like being made: Adam
bought to life at the touch of God’s knobby finger,
God who strains to reach him from the carriage
of a severed brain. So I didn’t flinch, didn’t
cup my hands between my legs. I let her
eyes look over me the way water attracts to water.
And with my finger, I wrote my name inside the river,
a name she will never know to read.