Water

night & prison & desert & darkness
a pipe, a sewer, a river

after the thorn the prisoner broke
no—after the storm the survivor spoke

I didn’t know what the water wanted

*

30k, base pay, just for
signing, but it’s easy to

bump it up—carry a gun,
boom, hazard

pay—carry a gun outside the green
zone, boom—work the prison night

shift boom
boom, boom, boom

*

back home, capt’n, I was always on
lookout,

any bridge, any ledge, I

could dive from, the highest point
to throw my body off of—a bridge,

a quarry, a waterfall

*

nothing to flood, drymouth to
drowning, everyone’s here for a purpose

this girl, capt’n, my love, four
fingers in her mouth

drop by drop by drop by drop, she’d
lick them & carry it down

anywhere, the water whispers, everything
wet, an oasis in the near-dark

*

here comes the tub, here comes the board,
here comes the cloth, here comes the bucket

on an empty road, capt’n, I found a bridge
the water pure black below

all it takes, capt’n, is to step off into nothing
I knew I’d be here by christmas

*

put your ear to the wall—water inside the wall
water is the empty tub, water is

a licked tile, a grain of sand
one drop hangs on the prisoner’s tongue—capt’n,

are we allowed to force him to swallow?

*

proteus here I am breaking a sweat
proteus watch as I hold you

proteus here I am licking my fingers
proteus watch as I lick them

watch as I pour watch as I pour watch as I pour
look what comes out of you now

*

submerged in the rain-
filled quarries: a car, a tree

stump, the wall of a ruined
house—stories, capt’n, gone
for years

that sometimes, some-
how, break free, rise up

*

something, capt’n, is
wrong, this one stopped

breathing—they said he wouldn’t
drown

then he drowned

*

water asks a question, water holds on
while it asks a question, it’s hard

to understand water’s question

come with me, the water says, the city
burning outside your walls