poem for litchfield beach and my grandfather’s smoking habit
the angels become porpoises in litchfield, when my grandfather
kills his third cigarillo of the morning in the slaughterhouse
of an ashtray and raises his tawny hand out towards the ocean.
look at the porpoises, he says, look at how they jump! but i cannot
see these angels. no, my eyes never adjust to the sunlight fractals
of high september, and the only creatures that i have seen are not celestial
bodies, but racoons fighting like demons in the dumpster far below our 3rd
floor balcony late at night—when the moon hangs in the darkness
like the glowing end of another gas station cigar,
burning the world alive from the inside out as my grandfather
holds it between his lips. he promised to quit smoking
several christmases ago, and i’m starting to hate sitting on the porch
with him breathing in pure carnage like the fall of Pompeii in a 4-star resort—
but i love him, so i am quiet for now. the angels i cannot see rise higher, he says
—stubby noses raised towards a heaven that they cannot reach until
they learn how to fly. and we sit here in the september sun—waiting.
look at the porpoises! he says with childlike joy, but i see only the halos
of the angels just passed, dissipating quickly in the waters. a panoply
of tender light, polluted only by a single line of smoke rising into the
heavens, into a new land, where even the angels cannot go.