Mark Cox

Palm Springs

Imploding casket of leisure and skin cancer,
Bobsled of vanity, autopsy table
Of the dead marriage and midlife crisis–
Could the sun-gods tracked by shadow and angle
Across temple courtyards,

Could they have imagined the tanning bed,
Or how, here, in the endless operatic
Hospice piano lounge of our world,
We worship selves we want, but cannot be–
Intravenous drips of bile and self-pity–

Until the transplant ice chest opens
And the bartender scoops out the viscera,
Offering it once more, in the name of love,
To the body. Can someone explain to me why,
Once we have lain down in our self-made beds,

We choose to get up?
Why, having been divorced and jettisoned,
We insist on being useful again–
Each flagellant helping his neighbor,
Bringing, as it were, his expertise to bear–

Until each visitor is escorted, sedated,
From the asylum ward, committed again
To line dances and speed dating?
Fountains of perpetual joy and anguish,
We are but skin poured forth,

Caressed, and poured again.
The magician, whose wife has sawed
All he owned in half;
The physician whose husband has his ear
To the heart of the babysitter;

The field commander calling in the coordinates
Of his own suburban home;
The hanged suicide denied the kiss
Of his bludgeoned wife;
The voyeur cabbie, nibbling lettuce in his shell,

For whom dawn is a Dollar Store place setting
Minus a beloved to breakfast with.
Though, there are (or were), for all
The spa’s pleasures: crystal healing, mud masks,
The vaguely urinous hot mineral springs,

And, of course, the tanning bed:
That flaming stretcher
On which we are borne narrowly along
Each wanton trench
To glory.