It’s a simple, mundane day, yet busy with an absolute slew of schoolwork
I take up a table in the library, high up on the 4th floor, overlooking
The shapes below with different work in the same time and place
There’s a large model airplane, an early model,
Suspended by cables that attach themselves to the far walls,
Yielding the illusion of mid-flight
It appears I wasn’t the only one with the idea to seclude myself this high;
Around me are the detached murmurs of still more students, bent
On the conclusion of their labors, some more eager than I, some less so
And closer to me, on a juxtaposed table, is another student, about my age
Shuffling through what looks like math
But I don’t pride myself much on intrusion, so I let him be
For hours we all toiled, us in the 4th floor and us down below
The music of light concentration, fluttering pages, a utensil,
Swathing through those immobile wings and dwindling on the propeller
The time is rapidly becoming the enemy in all our bingo books
And of the books stacked in the cluster of cases, some of which will no doubt remind one
Of the timeless saying that ‘time waits for no one’
The student of the table next to me is still at work, and I’m still at work
And people file in and out of the door which leads downstairs,
Faces going in with indignance and a foreknowledge of what they’re to do
Faces leaving triumphant, secured in another day’s duty crossed off
I steal a look at the student close to me
I see him pass a tired hand over his eyes
(I agree with his plight)
By now we’ve been swarmed with a million like us
Jumping from table to table to seat to seat, in groups or in respectable solitude
A veritable mosaic of people, a timelapse in ironic real-time, elapsed second onto second
The darkness crowds the unlucky surfaces of the windows, tries to push in
And like lichen stuck to sea rocks amid a terrible tidal storm we remain
Jaded and mentally broken down, but finally we see each other
He looks at me dully, I return it with a shrug and the slightest smirk
And I think we both understand it
Though no words needed to pass through the air, nor signals of the eyebrows,
The hand, the heavy persistent sigh
We’ve seen the lapse, just us and the jetstream of the world unending
And he looks away, and I look away at the suspended plane, still as it ever was
Doubled back on Becks you serenade the sex and spit
A flash like love, the sternum above and puzzling the puzzle
To which ribs fit
And O to Adam, to the man who knew it first.
Then to plumb sleep between the purples
Where the counting is the worst
It's rounding three-forty in the morning
And my reason for sleep is tugging at me like
Gravity to everything
Or a late-night host absolutely convinced
His guest is wittier than himself
And pulling the curtains as if to say "I've failed you"
Really, the only continuity here is the drumming purr,
Outsourced by the shuffling footsteps opposite my door
Of which I am deathly afraid
If they knew what I really did in here
And at this time of night?
Can't even think about it
"Probably masturbating" they would chortle
Shaking their heads in disappointment over my
Weakness of mind and overall
Failure to hide the sound of skin
But there are better things to do, are being done
Like paper poetry, terrible fortune cookie words
Stitched blindly so to sound nice
To feign significance
But there are better things to do
She watered the fichus and festoons
And far away, they somewhat bloom
The leaves a breadth between, the air
Nested as I am, and stare
From the frond, below the wings
Watching humans, poignant things
Scaring birds to rustle trees
A lingered hand, those nails, the breeze
She looked to me and kill't the space
Which separates a race from race
To finger full a garnered seed
A palm that greets, a dying weed
Festoons awash from laden rain
Next day came, and there remains
My crumpled arm, less safe than torn
To watch again a careful storm
Outlined in clouds my brother call'd
I turn the arm, and yet it stall'd
This universe that clung here, floored
Cannot simply be ignored
If you keep calling when its clear
If you keep gathering them here
The subtle way you water fronds
Our subtle breath dilutes, absconds
We could stare out the window all day
Cradled into the socket of the mountain range
Shaped into a waiting line that never moves
We could tie strings to each other
(Cheat just a little) and
Fly stratosphere kites; watch an astronaut
Follow his own alien discovery to Asia
Could write letters
And the pens would still be chock-full
And one day we thought we could do it together
Seconds slanted sideways, an eleven begins to look like
The edge of the world
so Cross the universe with one breath
then Feed me an idea from the corners of your mouth
Then I can know it for sure.
I took out a pen and some paper, looseleaf,
Not worth the words I sponged onto it but it’ll do
I wrote down my feelings about everything
The silence of people on a subway ride to work
The closest star to us that isn’t the Sun
How the Bermuda Triangle got its shape and why the other ones
Weren’t cut out for it
Were it not for the clocks in my room, serving as reminders
That time still existed and would far outlive me
I swear I would have written forever
I swear I would have
Sometimes I would write letters to friends and never send them
Instead cram them into envelopes and into larger envelopes
And stack them in the fireplace, under the wood
And sometimes light it, other times just hold out my hands
And feel invisible warmth
The ones I did send, though, felt hollow
Words typed or written but not the words I needed
To say then. I’d rather ask you how your day was than to receive
A strange facial expression because a question concerning
Cosmic dust and how it rushes together to create man
Doesn’t really serve as a good icebreaker.
Most of the unsent letters were to you
You and the clouds that guide you around, shifting rain
Back toward the sky
I wrote how are you today?
And meant I want you to keep auditioning for dance because you’re wonderful
I wrote doesn’t this weather feel strange?
And meant get a bigger umbrella so I can be under it too
We should try to go for dinner
We need to have an excuse to be together
Are tattoos a bad thing?
Look, topics to occupy us
My house is empty tonight
Where are you so late and what do you think about?
I miss the vase we sold
I miss you
I feel like today is longer than yesterday and will be shorter than tomorrow
I miss you
And they stacked, one upon the other
The spaces between each squeezed under the weight of the next
The weight of the words compounded more than the previous
Filling the spaces of my apartment to the point where
I could not see out the windows
“Today is Monday the 16th. To whom it may concern, I’ve contemplated the ideas laid before me and can finally take confidence that I’ve chosen the right one. Many people say that virtuosity is next to solace and I believe that. Many people also claim that it takes a life to learn how to live, and I believe that too. I’ve so many things to say to everyone, even the people I’ve only met once or twice. But those people are just as important.
I can hear echoing between the televisions between the open rooms. The same words delayed by seconds but still audible and clear. The reactions aren’t echoed, they’re different, variant on the person and how they feel about it. To make sense of my claim, I guess it’s just a matter of perspective, and now my perspective is clear, and now I want it to echo between the people to whom I send these letters. Whether the variation between reactions will be the same or not I am all-around unclear, but I know the reactions may have enough weight to keep me held to the ground, or even a bit lower than that. Either way, I’ve spent my life reacting to things as if acting on an echo. I want to change the channel now. I want to close my door so the sound can fill the room and make the stacks of unsent letters shudder. I want to keep it there and turn the air the color of the closest star to us other than the Sun. I want to-“
I wanted a lot of things, to do and to say
But that letter and those that followed joined the others in the quiet spaces
Spaces which kept the frays of this life muffled and still
Like an ocean scooped into a bucket
Or the world’s smallest word
Backspaced by one letter
Dismiss my wandering eyes
They’re catching a drape, not you
They’re creeping along a cobblestone sidewalk
Dismiss my clamping cough
It’s there because the Spring is not good to me
It’s not there because you are good to me
Which, you always are, have I mentioned
It will not stop here
In, of all places, a little side-street pub
Where we both always seem to be
At the same time
It will not just stop
Like a chamber orchestra after a
Long night of tuning and unreal sound
Where outside it’ll flow
Ignore the tone of my voice
When it shifts up, it stays up
I won’t drop it for you, not until
You drop it first
And you get closer to where I am
One less stool between us every day
And nobody notices
But the people who sat in them, those air people
And I’m certainly not kidding when
I beg you to tell me things
Like the ghosts between us
Are only shapes of us
Tell me we’re all the same
Little lobsters in a tank
Clawing at water
We’re the same
Tell me I was always too nice
To confront a total stranger
The greatest question of all
I could imagine reacting to life on other worlds the way a
Tribal sponge cleaner would react to a washing machine
As he reluctantly prods it with one of his burnt-out torches
He’d made for his wife for their anniversary
All the scientists gather around the looking glass, scribbling gargantuan words
And pushing up their glasses, speculating whether or not
The language they spoke had been the correct one at all
I could visualize them as they stepped out of their spaceship
Wandering around a grassy patch, careful to keep a safe distance
A wisp of clouds inch overhead,
To us a common thing, to them a phenomena they’d been told
Around a fireplace made of stars, stories counted and recounted
About the clouds and the strange way they danced on the opposite side of the galaxy
Stacking papers on their desks, the scientists retire home and
Dream of how they’d tell the public about what they had found
As Times Square flickers to a still of the alien’s face
The people below suddenly feel much less significant
Look at the edge of the sky, she says
Where the angels observe us
Record our flaws and
Mistake us for monsters, sometimes
And then look in those buildings
There are psychologists who do the same thing
They peer from their windows, spectacles fogged
Fingers poised around parchment
What makes them different, he asks
Well, apart from where they live?
I don’t really know
I guess, maybe, they are human
And what about you?
Does that make you an angel?
She smiles, responds with lips half-closed
For you, I always will be.
And as winter fell upon the river
The fish calmly claiming each droplet
There stood four, slow-footed men in trenchcoats,
Huddled around a grave.
From each hand a flower dangled
“Her favorite” one of them untangled
From each hand a subtle weed
“Always was,” one agreed
The fish retreated to their coves
Any left snatched by the crows
Leaving the men there, with their mother
Wind pressing them to one another
And as the sun reached to the snow
It was the last to see her go;
Whereas the moon rose from the shore -
Millions of snowflakes, millions more
I’ve been accepted in a number of small-town organizations,
Constructed by some confetti-fetishists who craved nothing more than
To write their thoughts onto the underside of a bridge,
Abandoned due to incredible uprisings of what some would call faux water.
They’d told me,
Multiple times actually,
That I was bound to their ideals and morals forever;
That they’d essentially taken the parts of my brain that mattered
And the sections of my heart I knew couldn’t feel emotion but
Hoped dangerously that they, under suitable conditions, just might
And tossed them into a box
Snuck down to the river
Let it drift away as I slept alone.
I’ve been afraid to try new things, always afraid,
Always wandering about with a finger to the air and a
Paintbrush to mark where I‘ve been.
To think that they “saved me,”
Or “kept me from a suicidal afterparty” is now
Only a thought rather than action.
He lift a glass of dust to his mouth
Wondering who he used to be
As I watch myself from the corner.
There were happy times while at Home, where the sun
Licked the rims of our glasses and sent wayward strands of light
Streaking across an almost-empty tabletop,
Save for a slight shifting of sand in the only hourglass
I would ever need to own.
There were sad times too, don't forget
Like whenever the storms intruded on our mid-afternoon slumbers
And sent our dreams flying in a saturated mess of
Unfinished riverboat cruises and superhero simulations;
Underneath it all, though, it became impossible not to try it again.
We're going to return here someday, paying close attention to
A world that had preserved itself for the sake of preservation
A life that had spent its last weekends alone on the edge of the sea
Where everything within it collected and became a mosaic of
Saturated dreams and hourglasses cut in two -
Sand mixing with sand.
If I were to agree to your long-winded sayings of
oh hey, we can still love upon arrival, yes?
Then I would have to throw you into the water for
Being so foolish and so beautiful at once
But this water, frozen, below—
As if to remind me that gravity should never apply to
But ice— the bane of a time
Bound to end twice
Bound to end twice
Mr. Gentle person’s eye
raining quiet rain down the crests of fingers
and the tendrils called wrists
undulating through fixed corridors in which
every heavenly body collides.
it’s a fine thing to cry, to die
and thus did every person’s gentle eye
flood through a Watergate that had carelessly
been left open.
She arrives to gaze upon her own body
“Is this really how you want it to end?”
so we turned to see her—
as she was, even before.
And we could
And we could only—
We lay quietly one evening beneath the stars, struggling in an effort
To find their own place in that infinite black canvas.
She turned her head and from the security of her blanket asked
Do you hate the world for what it is? Or what it's going to be?
I responded with Neither.
And twisted my face into a smile,
as if to make her think she'd asked the right thing.
She twisted hers into a smile too,
as if to affirm that I'd given her the right answer.
In the later hours, we rowed down some swatch of river runway
Cradled between a few mountains and a few cities.
Do you row to keep up with me? Or to keep yourself from drowning?
I told her Both
And let go of the oars to see what strange thing might happen.
Only the stars could really see what occurred then, in Earth's emptiness, but ignored it;
Too busy finding a way to keep from touching one another, I guess -
The dream machine be casted grey
And sent me home alone today;
Home alone by dreamer’s power
And struck down solid ‘round the hour.
So as they passed, my mind did wander
Through alleys they had hoped to squander.
From every cell upon my head—
Removed again and sent to bed.
Laid to waste and waned through air
And to the misty frigate there.
Across those plains and through the cold
Where to an end it all unfolds.
So send me out, it matters little
We remain still dream’s transmittal
For where the rain will fall toward clouds
This dream will end, depart the crowds.
The concaves in the glass bowl and the style which it imposes to the
Food within it to warp and appear not from this world.
The spoons and how they surrender the same effect, curving my face
Into a funhouse punch line; I can’t help but smirk,
Which somehow distorts my features even more.
You were convinced it was necessary to serve me your best today,
Pulling out the stops and balancing uneasily on the aging stool that waits in the corner
Just to get out the “fine” kitchenware.
Soon it became routine:
I was over every day, not to eat, no; selfishness is a puzzle.
No, I’d sit at the table and bide my slender hourglasses, shifting a mind between
Taking you to the moon,
Or to the ceiling fan because my goodness it’s getting warm in here.
Planet under smoke, we end the day with a drop of manufactured whiskey
Dangling from the inside of your Swedish wine bottle set from India.
(Bends the droplets into squares)
Our sun is setting and the pictures on the walls fall asleep.
Masterpieces nailed to the sides of train cars
As they pass it becomes a flipbook
Made of names so grotesquely caricatured
(down to every last tittle and tisten)
They would become beauty through definitions
It is scrawled onto napkins
Hoisted over the neon city
Crudely lined and curved into cardboard signs
Lofted between vagrant fingers that hadn’t touched a green thing in years.
Safety in the colors
Born from the rust of the river which runs when we walk
And fermented through years of gunfire
Which coincidentally spell out our names between the holes
And deteriorate when obscured by some passing train cars
That I cannot help but to stop and admire.
This flipbook of broken law and clever rebellion
In its own right, a masterpiece in pieces
In its terrible condemnation, erased
And the artist dies again.
They called him deadpan man.
He sat in a squeaky cerulean chair by the window
Whispering to the cobwebs, contemplating ideas
Nobody ever took the time to scratch down.
Maybe this is why he killed his own head a week later.
But today I stole a few minutes from my own schedule to visit him
In his sleepless waking. I pulled up an invisible chair
I'm not sure he noticed,
And allowed my ears to swim in his hollow ideas and
Surprisingly stable dreamscapes.
With a frail voice, one which could not walk with near the force of a baby,
He breathed such misshapen sentences as
"The earth is God's basketball"
" If tsunamis could embrace"
"Why does my failure mirror my face?"
I watched his bony fingers trace across the lonely surface of
A window that had, at one time, learned not to question
The universe on both sides.
I saw the first and last time his fingerprints would exist,
And his breathy voice murmur a single word
Trailing off into the air,
Evaporating, only more subtle.
Day breaks and our eyes close on the sun
Twelve strings from the clock, and it is done
Next comes the sea, it’s turning grey
And with the other one, fades away—
Your mind is a three pound universe
Two steps and the third one will come first
It looks like the others got it wrong;
Our world has been here all along.