dear, gleaming family

by W.E.R. La Farge (1975)

I think this man
is leaching into madness
I don’t like him
but I think the water
is low in his tub
his wife may be
already a widow
knowing it, knowing it
his children victims
smiling: they all smile
their teeth glitter
they perform acts
of heartbreaking regularity
behind their smiles
like a sheet of glass
not even breath-fogged

dear, gleaming family
one of your number
is falling, is falling
one of your number
is falling asleep
in a coffin made
of smiles, dear family
one is falling
has fallen is lying
sealed & drying
do you hear me
do you hear me

my words are raindrops
pattering moistness
& trace materials
on the outside only
of your crisp & squeaking
sheet of terror

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