—The Ascension of Slim, Jay Watson, Brauer Museum
It isn’t this half moon
Jumpmanned just above the horizon line
that sunspots my eyes after I look away
as I drive this nameless numbered highway,
but the afterimage of the painting The Ascension of Slim Shady:
Slim lies on the table, with one of Snoop’s legs transplanted
in place of his own, Snoop in the foreground
unconscious on the floor.
Suge & Dre bedside. And the ghost of Pac behind them.
Is Snoop a willing donor,
a generous mentor? Or does the painting
It’s complicated, though we’re all getting our stories straight,
as if we’re at the border, papers in hand,
or standing before St. Peter at the gate.
O country of the 99%
hydrocortisone addicts in the world.
O waterboarded in the land of baptisms,
the preacher on AM-whatever-in-Oklahoma
wants to tell you about the new Jerusalem—
by now, Pac knows if heaven’s got a ghetto—
which, if & when it’s built here, will be built
upon the bones of Terence Crutcher,
on him when he was gunned down in the middle of the street,
walking away. By now the grey wings
have been falling
for days now. Dove season.
Slim, put your best foot forward,
& if the gospel
of epigenetics holds true, somewhere in that leg
a gene’s been silhouetted like a doorway with a body
by the memory of past violence.
A face printed upon it—the latest body in the streets.
And so, whoever you are, you are the landscape.
The salt furnace, shotgun shack. The auction block.
Whoever, you are, the music of ascension blows through your bones,
like wind through a hundred burned violins.
Almost the quiet of ghost towns.
And the seine of stitched feathers that holds our dreams,
slow drift of hair
of a child in a tub,
the ghostly hair
of nebulae. Something near us, & already beyond.
Live with one foot in the air,
Baptists around here say,
as if you’re already halfway to heaven—
it’s that next step that trips me,
but any day now, we’ll get it,
we’ll fall to the heights
& feel the lift that hollow bones feel
each leap when air rushes in,
any day now.