Brian Clifton A Man Asks What My Greatest Heist Would Be

We tromped from the north

to Florida’s green tip.

The neon barrooms

and their serpentine movements


called to us with their chemical scent. John draped

himself across the couch

in the midday light, his box

of machinist tools splayed

open, its metal instruments

scattered across the floor. I asked,

What is more beautiful than an empty lot?

I expected nothing


from the pills I’ve been prescribed.

I expected nothing

from “my condition” except that light

within my brain will throb until my body

goes flaccid. We stared at the lot next door—

razed to the ground after the police found the remains


of six men scattered under the lawn.

John said nothing, moved a hand

across his torso. Outside,

a bike wheel’s chirping

slowed to a hiss.

The night before, we were all mirrors and strobe—

a single body undulating

a morsel down its long, long ribcage.


There were reports the murderer

stuffed the men’s throats with plastic

tubing and poured Drain-o into their stomachs

until it frothed out,

that he snaked their orifices clean,

that animals were used to digest

some of the corpses. My lover asked,

What would your perfect heist be? The empty


lot shuddered in the breeze. And we talked about get-a-way

cars, the team we would need,

the intricate brains of a bank safe.

We talked until the day is bled dry.

We both know there are several ways a man can die

and murder is only one of them. We know how love

coils its letters through violence.

Above us, our neighbors drape their python’s

skin around their planter boxes.

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