I scold my dog in the voice of my ancestors
they would smile at my commands to heel
to sit and stand, like salute or koutou
to paw and touch when startled
to leave it, I said leave it, when the outsider's temptations appear
to wait at the door, to be the last one through
to drop when holding what is wanted
to down when overcome with joy
to off when warmth is needed
to out when I am hurting
to out when I am nauseous to out when I am broke to out when I am lonely
they would nod approvingly when no command is needed
I feel responsible for the end of the world today.
No metaphor, killed a live vaccine kind of way.
Stuck a vein wrong and had to redraw.
Any way I insert the needle leaves a bruise.
Or wrote a script wrong,
made the cough worse, in a way.
A doctor once said,
medicine has no room for error.
Which is another way I know
Built a bed frame, clicked
struts into platform, brushed
foam flakes and test anxiety from
knit button down sweater—yeah, I wear knit button down sweaters—god,
I feel twenty two years old.
I feel every snap and creak, turn with every screw,
rail at the missing leg caps and empty rooms in my soul
and when at last the mattress explodes
over the iron skeleton I'd molded
I press my past into the memory foam and hope
I'll sleep better from now on