Gray Jacobik
The Tapeworm


It rushes out of you the way Magritte's train-engine
rushes out of a fireplace; something
illogical and fast, the long freight of embarrassing
incident coupled to fear. Groceries left at the checkout
because a roommate took your cash, a car wasting
without repairs, the dog saved by a vet
you can't pay, so can't bring home. The ugly humiliating
chewed-up rag of it. Deadweight of trinkets
bought to console that don't console. How you can't get
enough of what you don't really want,
yet in the make-do, grab. Recompense that's supposed
to stave off-what? - the flush of shame
that stipples your neck. Two babies asleep on blankets
on a cold linoleum floor, no furniture,
no food in fridge, none on shelves - the quick hysteria
of suppose. Suppose you borrow?
Suppose you take. . . ? But worse is the man who
promises work and delivers rape,
though he throws two twenties at you afterwards
that feed you a week. The gut-wrack of
can't-afford, primal yelp that keeps you swallowing hard.
Credit bureaus, bill collectors, taxes, bank.
The old stumble-and-fall-down, temp awhile, whore
awhile, give the man his due. And here,
at last, you shit it out: the blind-eyed parasite who
bloodies you, the sharp-toothed gnawing
worm of desperation, the brute.