I Confuse the Dead Man,

his bony chin playing the washboard
of his knuckles as he thinks me over.
He sends moths to burn in the lamp,
his hollow eyes fixed from the rocking 
chair, his teeth, bleached monuments.

Dead men don’t have tongues,
some god keeps those for himself.
Forget the soul, it’s overrated:
you should see this god’s long cape 
of squirming pronunciations.

I ask the dead man if the rain falling
outside is my ancestors running into gutters.
There are two cracks running like thoughts
at the base of his skull. Time moves in 
sputters and stops. The room fills with the

sounds of his dry creaking joints as he stands, his jaw 
moves in words he lacks the tongue to pronounce.