Here’s a poem from the 2011 issue of Paper Nautilus, by Charles Rafferty. His most recent book is A Less Fabulous Infinity. He directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.
The Man With a Broken Bottle Collection
He makes many of them himself. In fact, he has just added
the blue bolt of a vodka bottle held
barely intact by its label, which he dropped
while walking up the iron spiral staircase to his bedroom.
Sometimes he flings them into a roaring fireplace
when he wants to believe he’s acting a part
in some romantic Russian film. Sometimes
he tries to smash his shadow as it stalls on a wall
beside the telephone atop his untuned piano.
People have tried to give him broken jars, but he despises
their wide mouths, how they gape like whores.
Others have tried to give him plastic, but there’s no satisfaction
in watching one bounce off the picture window,
while a lady friend dashes to her car down his path of billowing
forsythia. What he wants is a neck, a grip — the sound
of glugging whiskey. He keeps his collection under his bed
and on the kitchen counter, along the top of the toilet tank
and the ledge of a dusty TV. To pick through it is dangerous.
The cracked glass tapers to a blade so fine
the color disappears. It can break off in his finger-skin
without his even feeling it. The blood comes and he needs
tweezers and a pin to get out the shards. Everything he owns
is full of his rusty prints. Year after year, the pieces collect
in the corners of his house like old confetti. No matter
how hard he listens, he cannot hear the parade.