If I shut the border,
no one will shut their window,
hide in their closet,
lock their door.
They would shake the blinds of moths,
bring the dog in from the doghouse,
let the cat feast after the mouse hole
has been plugged with a door wedge.
In the distance
the train whistle blows
dispersing mist and rain.
No one steps off nor boards.
The bird nest is not abandoned.
The hollow of the tree stays hollow.
Nothing has shut down at all.
My pen scribbles a poem
only to watch the black words
return to the reservoir.
I open the dictionary to the word “hope”,
but the page refuses to settle
until I put all the words in them
face down on the writing table.
My stoma grumbles louder than my stomach.
I shut my cancer in the mother-of-pearl.
My wife’s cancer is placed in the
small valise of all our memories.
I can’t shut down the museum.
It already is.
I can’t shut down the cinemas.
They already are.
Only the pharmacies are open.
I shut down my mouth
on my broken jaw
with five missing teeth
only to feel the maw of death.
I shut down the ash of my childhood
into a golden urn of my own design.
I shut down America, I shut down God,
putting them both between the now
empty covers of the dictionary missing hope.
I shut down my passions, my emotions
in the moldy basement of my despair.
My shut down love is chained in the dungeon.
Shut up, shut down, I repeat to myself,
until those words lose all definition,
until my lips are sealed in pain and
the only thing left is my total shutdown.