Those Who Serve
Some suburb of D.C. Unfinished basement.
By the hotwater heater and washer/dryer.
Ashes of his Jack Russell (knew forty-five words)
in a plywood urn on the dining room table.
Cats and tawses and floggers and whips
he used on me. He said Give me your back.
I need someone to take pain for me. I did.
Dad in Arlington with a space for Mom
Military family and effects of Agent Orange.
He said Sacrificial stallion on the altar.
Ate Chinese take-out when it was over.
Read fortunes from cookies. Put me
On the commuter line. Drove back.
Checked up on his Polish war bride Mom.
Birth of Venus
a different sky makes a different ocean
this one a scribble of its gray-black self
where waves pull apart and make a hollow
before falling back exhausted to pull again
there can be no intimacy with that one
blood spray sea foam lobbed-off testicles
knots tight as incest and parricide slacken
tighten up around the naked fact of wanting
headed from Labrador across the deep desert
headless battered torso bleak and swelling
Dover Beach Diodes
it killed them but we hear their razor voices
transmitted on some toxic low-tide expanse
the console was blasted away they remain
big as phone booths glassy crustaceans
monolithic vacuum tubes orange filaments pulsing
lessons they were taught by rote with electroshock
a last ditch effort to transform the wreck of
the medusa lusitania hope titanic ship of state
through thrift commitment and realizing things
could be worse like monstrous plankton stranded
they give off phosphorescence of decay the half-
lives of what they were promised and settled for
we who jumped ship changed our names feel shame
Robert F. Gross, poet, playwright, director, performance artist, and nomad, is currently exploring Los Angeles, after performing in Minimal Martha and escape clause in Philadelphia with Julius Ferraro earlier this summer. He has published in a number of journals, including BoySlut, The Camel Saloon, Danse Macabre, Sein und Werden, Epigraph, and Dead Snakes, and is always eager to perform before an open mic.