“Working Memory” by N.W. Hall

in my childhood, mom imparted this to me:
be careful where you put your happiness.
growing up i thought she was right because
whenever some horrid event befell me
i thought about her adage, and i moved my
happiness somewhere else: a safer place.

that used to be the way i thought till i started
getting faux introspective and listening to a lot
of blues a month after almost dying violently...

mortal agony congealed these recollections to my cozy heart
the way an oven might bond strawberries-that have wandered off
from the yawning clam of the pie crust-to the searing prison of its
sooty, black walls that glower their warmth out of gassed orifices:

the car that crushed around my car that squirted my body out of
the jagged passenger door. a ballast descended from the basket
of my diaphragm as my stomach rose into my chest: a holy ascent.
i fully appreciated the word fuck when death chimed through my
sensory register, and passing out felt easy with this cute profanity
gently lulling me into a fathomless unconscious of incarnate shadow.

waking to myself as an odd, butchered form resembling some promotional
product birthed by the meat packing industry that floundered upon advert,
i saw the staples skipping, rippling, and shining down my abdomen like an
archaic form of jewelry used to mark the damned under sumptuary laws.
i lept inside myself: i packed all of my most valuable possessions in that car!
i remembered i am a born american. i lamented objects, not my luscious flesh.
with all of the damaged goods lost, i was left with only a shellfish remnant of me.

when i stood with bones shattered, and my ribs
a hillock abloom with wildflower-like contusions
i felt that my mother told the truth, but she had
been far luckier with her wisdom than I'd been.
accepting i fell short, i edited her words selfishly.

here goes: when you place
your happiness somewhere,
do it with incredible frugality
because you'll pay a fine for
littering no matter what; be
glad your choice is what kind.

out of some internalization of a stereotypical reaction, i'll probably call the fine too steep,
but really i won't tinkle out the word fuck like a tiny bell because when i die i plan to sleep.