John F. Buckley ~ Notes at the End of the Thirteenth Baktun

I need to speak out about death and humanity,
don’t I? The world ends in three hours. All
I have is you, a limp car­rot, and a change bucket
on the kitchen counter. The flesh on my elbow
is ragged and hood­ed. I can almost pull it
over my head like a wim­ple. I don’t want to see
the aliens land. I don’t want to watch any
rabid vol­ca­noes emerge by the gar­den shed.

Survival’s no longer a giv­en, a cred­it­ed voucher.
I’m hold­ing a but­ter knife, wait­ing for screams
from the street. I’m a tack in the car­pet, point
down­ward, anoth­er failed mutiny. When I fill
a shot glass with bleach, the whites of my eyes
shout Sláinte. When I tip my hat, tiny birds
spat­ter the crown of my soft, moony head.

We want­ed a lega­cy, despite the arid love life,
the oven in the bed­room. But with such
a rich tele­vi­sion line­up, who had time? When
we do kiss, it’s almost like awk­ward maturity,
a scrap from a burnt future news­pa­per. Each
new verb is the kid of a tense cre­ole gumbo.
Each noun’s a speech­less gri­ot from Royal Oak,
Michigan. Do you like what I’ve done with my tongue?

I wish I had time for a nap. I wish I had shattered
a stereo­type. I wish I had lotioned what chafes you.
I know an HVAC man who lives in the ducts
of his clients. He said it’s bet­ter than solitude.
Maybe he has room for us, if we scootch, if
you hold me near, tor­sos pressed before the fire.


After twen­ty years in and around California, John F. Buckley once again lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife. His pub­li­ca­tions include var­i­ous poems, two chap­books, the col­lec­tion Sky Sandwiches, and with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network. His web­site is