it’s the library where you are
the littlest pea embedded
within a complex theory of pods
last night you touched her
while now you sit alone
groping a plastic keyboard
the printer printing out your thesis
makes a sound like marching soldiers
heads empty of introspection
the woman’s voice
skips towards you across tables
laid out like ponds
scholars sigh as they bend toward
the glowing faces of beloved
As you sleep childhood hurtles towards me. Containers rust in sunlight as a bent and aging form hobbles down the aisle. I wear your foreign eyes to discover the familiar without sympathy… to read my future in the passing scene. Returning is difficult, beginning again is pointless. What is necessary and what is wanted? You continue to sleep. A draught of chill air sweeps through your dreams. I will not let go of what cannot be held. The passing landscape whispers squandered possibility.
In your inbox sits an email you can’t discard. Other things you can’t discard include mistaken ideas about the wealthy and your own impoverished pride. The one open seat was beside a questionable person. Wilting, you sat. The man asked if you had a habit. “A habit isn’t a bad thing, some people live their whole lives with a habit,” he told you. The train caused a wind in the station where it didn’t stop. You watched the hair of a woman on the platform rise and fall like an empire. The mask you wore for years is worn out now. You place it in the drawer beside your socks. You re-read the email and then your curser hovers like premonition above the delete button. The change you desire requires the arousal of primal fears. It is not in your nature to live like an ornament… or maybe it is?
The train lurches like a drunk from the station then picks up speed. A beautiful child wears a knitted cap that says ‘obey.” Mexican blood runs through her veins like Pamplona bulls. Soon the train slithers into the 53rd Street tunnel. Beside me G. shifts on the plastic seat and his eyes widen like a two-lane highway. “You don’t smell that?” he inquisitions me. The other passengers stare into the molten core of self. “You can’t smell that?” Like a crocodile, waste is hiding beneath the surface of the river. Its scent is the footprint in mud beside a murdered corpse.
with my face pressed against your shoulder
i am thinking about feelings and family
spreading like shadows behind us
and along with the heat of your body
there is this:
whatever love we have been shown
the kindness we now share
skin touching skin touching soul
light falling from above
tomorrow is an ancient mercy
tomorrow is a dream of wheat
tomorrow is a stream of forgetting
tomorrow is uncertain defeat
the softness of your voice in darkness
this compulsion to begin once again
no masks, no chains, no promises
morning, the stealthy soldier, wakes and wakes within us
In the museum one woman watches as another woman views a portrait of a wife. Unknowingly, the women have arranged themselves like points on a scalene triangle. Two are seated while one stands. The standing woman, whose eyes are oblong like eggs, leans forward to inspect the brush strokes in a corner of the painting. Last month she left her longtime girlfriend for a younger man and two years from now her pregnant belly will swell like a sail filled with wind. The woman sitting on a bench studies the seated woman in the portrait as well as the standing woman who abandoned her girlfriend for a man with whom she has no history and so cannot remind her of her failures. (Yet.) The woman in the portrait married a fellow painter at the New York School of Art and after she gave birth to two daughters. Tucked within the mind of the seated woman is an ill-conceived plan to escape the older man she’s involved with, an eccentric banker who is unfailingly kind though he can no longer remain silent while she reads articles on fractal geometry. Three months from now she will board a plane to Helsinki and during the flight her hysterical hand will tremble and spill coffee on a teenager seated beside her. The coffee will leave a rectangular-shaped stain and this is what the boy’s father will notice when he greets him in the airport. Weeks later, the father who is a doctor will detect a lump in the woman’s breast and after she learns it is benign, the woman will return, tearfully, to the banker. In her absence the banker’s love for the woman will have deepened like a teenaged boy’s voice. In the portrait, the wife is seated at a piano, her face turned to look behind her at George Bellows who would die, years later, of appendicitis. Did the series of atonal chords she play that afternoon please him? Did she begin to paint again after his death?
If only you could believe that you will be given
your due. You come from
a people who practice rituals
of cannibalism yet
a small amount of withholding continues to take place.
Some natural antagonism persists, ripe jealousies play out against a backdrop of general decency.
Too many desire to feel special while wanting to remain utterly
Inevitably the stasis of a cloudless afternoon is interrupted.
There is the soundless flight of a stone thrown to wound…
or did you mean to kill?
For a few seconds you stood alone,
appearing forthright, undisguised as all children do
beneath the glare of adult accusation.
it must be inserted like a disc into a drive.
Perhaps a day later —
a handy father having punished and all the usual civilities having been said —
a paper crown was placed upon your head, a tasteless cake disintegrated on your tongue.
It was then you noticed the crescent-shaped scar on her brow
a sign that some essential ability to self-protect was lacking.
Was this the moment all your illusions fell in on themselves like pie crusts, like
You are you are you are
All manner of delirium is concealed
forgotten revelations have been lost inside a jerry-rigged psychology.
With relief you remember that all (and you) will someday end.
Your eventual escape is made certain by circadian rhythms,
the changing seasons — oh, the most general of general trends.
Does rebirth have no purpose (you wonder)
or must it always come disguised inside intent?
Splayed against the grass, the earth,
your shadow refuses to leave you.
you LINGER in the nexus of wind and rain and fleet
while laughter echoes IN rooms beyond your own
there is promise in all UNCERTAINTY
there is mourning in all purpose
an evening sky offers no meaning
to those who will not CONCEIVE
meanwhile you glimpse YOUR austere fate
as random hearts PULSE toward tomorrow
Steel girders rust in daylight
A minuscule jet crosses a distant sky
Morning billboards shameless in their disarray
Billowing steam, increasing traffic
A cell phones rings
The train passes vans titled “Uniglory” and “China Shipping” and “Evergreen”
Powerlines and power lies hang suspended in space
Open hearted curiosity
the wind remains unseen
mute skies unfold as we dream
bloodless trains connect us to the mainland
these islands of machinery and mist
a taste for thrill impedes you
the show of masks and teeth
emptiness is your one intention
the way is lit by moon