The Lotus-Eater

Brandon Courtney

BPR 43 | 2016

Winner of the 2016 Collins Prize

For ten years, I swallowed
stabilizers, psychiatric pills

the color of sky, lotus-petals.
For years, I slept in a coffin

rack with blackout curtains,
listened as Dyer jerked-off

above me, listened as Graves
wept for home. After war,

I slept on a secondhand couch
in our unfinished basement,

floating on a gurney of waves.
All night I remembered

the worst beauties: sea abloom
with bodies, drumfire

in the waves’ whitecaps. Now,
my wife sleeps alone

in our bed; I sleep beside her.
My fingers turn to sand

inside her body. There's nothing
more medicine can do.

Johnson’s skin was blue when
he surfaced—the dead do not care

how their flesh will appear
to their mothers when they rise.