Rough Honesty

The Safe Invisibility of Saints
Martin Vest

It’s hard to say now
when I turned and took this road;
a wild of cigarette-thickets in my lungs,
holding my breath
against the spark of whiskey
that will one day catch them fire.
Or when I first wore the feet
of Ichabod Crane
into the headless dark of a tavern
with the punched blood of my nose
three fingers of tin
hardening into silverware
at the back of my throat
for a breakfast of failing liver:

The lean white worms
of my face’s nerves twitch
in the wreckage beneath their scars—
the nerves of my mind,
squealing untied balloons
half-pinched, releasing their little wind
into a whirligig
of prescription slips and dander.

It’s hard to say when I started killing myself.
It was something about the American dream.
Something about fifty years of my father’s life
working him into bone—
Something about poverty of spirit
and the safe invisibility of saints.
I wanted to eat rocks. I wanted to say
that man does not live by bread at all.
I wanted to taste His blood in mine—
to buy a home in Oblivion with a money
that instinct invents along the way—
I wanted the world to forget my name.
It was something about saving my own life . . .