3 A.M.

Angel's Flight, Vol. 5.2 (1980)

Donna Beckman

Once I could pass my finger through a flame
dream of a place where the trees have leaves 
and the nights are cool.

I sing my dirges eight to the bar
think of mordant leaves, all moisture gone
the arch of the cat dealing death to the bird
raccoon skin hung on a tree
and suicide.

When the professor killed himself
it didn't make the newspapers.
The crickets chirped as he sipped his brandy
although he couldn't hear them
with the window rolled up and the motor running.
Perhaps pompous little men kill themselves every day
and are buried as the moon shines in the daytime sky.

And the suicide girl, drained
skin colder than clams, animal eyes
dropsy girl, despair too deep for pain
dead two weeks later
lifeblood let from open veins
down the drain of her gleaming bathtub
leaving me poised on the tip of a metaphor.

The sound of a piano is on the wind,
and the smell of violets.
If only I could do a time step.

I conjure midgets and deaf people
who sing with their hands:
Transcendentalists, transsexuals, Transylvanians
and women with beards,
dwarfs who live in trailers
and do handstands for good money.

It's not the monsters I fear;
I receive lightning on my own scaffold
strain against my own bonds
to make whole again my monster self.

I am afraid I will forget my own secrets.

I watch for shining rats' eyes in the dark
as I wait for morning.


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