I wake up and stumble into the bathroom,
tear off a few sheets of toilet paper produced by a private equity firm.
I pour a fresh glass of water provided by private equity.
Private equity wants to know who I’ll see today, where I’ll go and when.
I jump in the shower, closing the striped curtain of private equity.
Private equity fabricates each minute on my clock: I realize
it’s time to pay my mortgage to a private equity firm
that used to be called a corporate raider,
remember the 1980s, when corporations used poison pills
and golden parachutes to avoid golden handshakes,
back when Gordon Gekko said “Greed,
for lack of a better word, is good.”
Behind my earlobes I spritz a little Eau de Private Equity.
I apply my private equity eye makeup while private equity
keeps a private eye on me in the mirror and I swallow
my morning private equity drugs, blow my nose into the soft tissue
of private equity, which records my secretions, for lack of a better word.
Private equity is charting my biostats, it wants to know
my waking temperature. Private equity is tracking when I’ll menstruate.
I throw on a private equity scarf over my private equity clothing,
zip up my coat courtesy of private equity,
which wishes to test the PH balance of my sweat
and measure my immune system. I confess to you:
I know that tonight when I get home, private equity will
be lounging on the couch, waiting up for me, private equity wants
its own private dancer, private equity wants me to take my top off,
it’s going to ask me to caress it, stroke it, pinch it,
private equity is ready for anything, private equity wants in,
it’s gotten good and greedy, it’s taught me to be voracious
just the way it likes, and now private equity wants me to say it’s sexy,
it’s sexy sexy business, sexy equity, sexy and all up in my private business,
my privacy, it’s piracy, it wants me to say it, just say it, and it wants me.
In Diagrams of Flesh, Dotted Lines Emerge under Ultraviolet Light
very much like coffins under flags. When politicians permit
the coffins to emerge. On the sidewalk
sits a man in a turban all morning, all evening cradling
news to his right ear. War is happening
over there and over here one by one the newspapers
are shutting down. That solitary woman in rush hour traffic,
what is she yelling at? What prophecy can be found
in the innards of a woman under ultraviolent light?
Burning, Charring, and Other Property Damage
They recognized arson when they saw it. Grandma left the gasoline canister
as evidence, so she could collect the insurance money
and send two of my uncles to jail at once. Shortly after, her wig changed.
It’s Bloody Mary red, she said. I stared at the age spots on her cheekbones.
Hadn’t the cops come? Hadn’t they chased her boys away?
Living right by a reservoir, she grew reserved. But I had heard
the tales of her dancing at the crossroads when she was young,
how her mother chopped off precisely half her hair in punishment.
I never understood what she whispered to me in Irish
when she tucked me into bed, fingers pressing my clavicle.
What’s in the burgundy leather suitcase! chorused the girls with curls.
None of us knew when she was born and she didn’t keep track
of her children’s birthdays either, nine was too many,
you were all born in October, she liked to say. Time to hit the road.
Time to. Amidst the scent of bleach she gave me five bucks
and I left her in her hospital bed. Her press-on fingernails aclick.
The fry cook my grandfather winced. But I had never met him,
he was just a story in a pea-coat, a belt that stung, a couple empty bottles
of gin by the lakeshore. Time! Time! the girls howled.
I wanted to pin it all on someone else. You, even.
Rachel Galvin’s books include Pulleys & Locomotion (poems) and a translation of Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets, which won the Scott Moncrieff Prize. A translation of Oliverio Girondo (with Harris Feinsod) is forthcoming from Open Letter Books. Lost Property Unit was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and Alice James Books’ Kinereth Gensler Award, and will be published by Green Lantern Press in 2017. Galvin is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.2