I had a girlfriend who was late for every period.
Three times she told me, "I am pregnant. "
She was never really pregnant.
She just liked to watch me squirm. So I did of course.
And after I drove away from home for the long haul,
my torn dirty socks and cardboard tied down to the trunk,
we kept in touch.
She curled her hair, decided she was pagan, and got pregnant-
but miscarried on her way to get a milk shake.
Autumn told me everyone laughed at her and the funny red denim stain.
She didn't go back there until April.
I saw her a few years later,
I walked through cans and bottles into her new apartment.
She had a make shift clothesline for drying wet laundry inside
and for a second I thought I saw toddlers and fetuses hanging on that taut wire
with wooden pins clipped onto their ears and umbilical cords.
It was only her underwear, clean and shiny
(and I think she was showing off.
Having a girlfriend who was late for every period
made me realize being a father may just be
a fate worse than castration and ring-worm.
And later that night, alone
I heard a voice calling from someplace hot and muffled
"Daddy Daddy where does heroin come from?
Will you put some Vaseline on my nostrils?
Do I have to have a shot?"
And since it's up to me for advice I reply
"Well son, hot tubs are actually soups of dish-soap and semen.
Watch out for ashtrays filled with quick-sand.
Always bring sun-tan lotion, we blister very easily.
Just because we don't carry knives doesn't mean that we don't love them.
You see that? It's called K-Mart son, and it's your friend.
Are you twelve yet? Can I bum a cigarette?"
I look down at my groin seriously
and we regard each other suspiciously.
I scream "Don't even think about it
you fiend you doppleganger you step-child.
Why I ought to lock you in the basement"
but he's a Sucker and teases me relentlessly screeching
"Daddy Daddy I want an armadillo.
Where's Mommy? Who is Mommy?
Last week it was Angel and before that Kim and Chris and Bernadett a year ago
(I really liked her). "
And I howl out past the dripping ceiling
"Damn you sleazy fertile girl, WHY DON'T YOU BLEED?
Now I'm more corrupt then a stock broker or a pornographer.
Keep those babies off the clothesline and put them back
on the streets where they belong.
It can't be my son in the back of the car,
it can't be and I've got the calendar and the calculator to prove it."
And, oh God, what if it was a girl?
I'd be terrified into submission before she turned three.
And it's not that I'm afraid of diapers and puke and puberty,
I can live off of vodka, yellow soda, and cigarettes for as long as the next guy.
I can deal with greasy fish and pepperoni pizza on Thanksgiving,
paper bags and jelly and dull razors on Halloween
just keep the "Daddy Daddy" away from me.
My fingers get sore just yelling at the punk next door
lighting newspaper fires on my sidewalk.
I'm not a good enough sculptor to be holding some one's brain.
I know that babies don't break but they bend-
I've seen the pictures and it makes me want to eat grass.
And I when I'm at the super-market I can't bring myself
to walk down that dark alley where the pregnancy tests jeer and spit
(their white teeth look yellow, their antiseptic breath smells like liver to me).
I just run trying not to smash the abducted faces in the milk isle.
Oh God there's another talk-show and, oh God, another healthy woman just smiled at
and I can't wipe this feeling any easier then a scar or my infected navel
or the blood freezing scream of an infant, stalked savagely by a clown with a fire
in a cage shaped something like a crib.
you're not trendy baby
(or fake or shallow or annoying),
Sugar cube animal among the tame
suburban psycho, anarchist, activist, lawbreaker too
(for only the truly daring drive their sports cars over 80).
So now I wonder while I watch you
sitting pretty as a heavenly holy statue
in this sacred structure you so seriously deemed
Coffee House of the GODS.
I see you sipping cappuccino
wiping sweet creamy foam from your luscious lipstick smile;
soft tongue and lips suck sugar crystals from your finger tips
each capped with acrylic sunbursts.
I was relieved when you finally began to speak
(but that second quickly lead to dread). She said:
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