This is the part where you think you don’t

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This is the part where, you think, you don’t know anything, for surely if you knew something, you would feel compelled to say something, unlike, you think, the other part when you knew something and didn’t say anything—that past part, the long part, the part eating up your life, the part you tell yourself you’re not in now. Tell and tell.

This is the part where you try to act like life is the same but you can’t because it’s not.

Always behind any surface that you show, it’s like you’re some cartoon character who—running away from some danger—has sawed a hole in the floor only to fall through it a long, long time and end up on the opposite side of the world. But no matter where you are, run away and it will keep you running. You think. You think that, but you don’t believe it.

Then one day you know this part you seem to have fallen into is really going nowhere—it’s static, it’s like waiting but not waiting for anything in particular, or maybe forgetting what you’re waiting for—but it’s just the waiting part, a part without the usual parts of waiting like being patient or impatient, like checking and checking the time, like daydreaming at a stop light or idly flipping through a magazine in some waiting room. It’s not that kind of waiting.

It’s waiting that’s a kind of absolute stillness in which you’ve stopped trying to know anything because there are so many things you know that you wish you didn’t. The phone bills, the messages—endearments, pleas—not meant for you but written nonetheless in searing letters in the front of your mind.

Maybe you were waiting to know but when you knew, the waiting didn’t stop. Maybe you gave up on knowing—so much transportation, so many ways to get to the wrong place. All those other things you didn’t think about then or didn’t do—doors you opened when you should have been locking them, things you looked into when you really should have run away. Now there’s no not knowing.

And now you know what part this is. This is the part where you keep in deep silence the other’s secret, the secret that is also the secret of how you’ve been wounded, the burden of it, this part where all that’s left of you is where the secret is, the part where the other’s secret is all you have left of him.





This is the part where no one

This is the part where no one stands up or
someone does but can’t think of what to say,
tongueless bell—see, like that: all the words
already used up. We leave, who knows where
we go or where we’ve been when we return.

Who will stand up for us? No one at those
impromptu concerts of the past where the
things we thought we knew approximate just
about anything else–stars, lace, something
that flew out of someone’s breezy red car.

That’s what you get for listing off to the
side, it taking forever to get out
of bed or creep down the block . Nonetheless,
If you were here for an eternity,
you could wear this old slow rock away.

This is the part, isn’t it, where you call
your own bluff and don’t confess to the
particular things you had in mind, the
part where you discover someone’s
silence wasn’t the reserve of deep thought.

The god who strolls in this garden we tend,
has some bad news about the weather plus
a few things we’d forgot we’d done or not.
No use in that was then—it runs down
into the earth for ages, this stacked ruin.

What did anyone feel in any new
place with all the dead underfoot, living
much as we do except for their patience
and obdurate good cheer, except that we
love them as we do not love each other.

Even in this late limning of our hearts,
the abandonment procedures require
amnesia about the part where we were
staking listless roadside trash and our
future—already aflame—barreled past.





lancelot british library royal ms 14 e iii r133v strtch

A pilgrim, a penitent. A forest.
Ruffians, blades, cudgels. Then
a kind family passing through.
Their tired horses and tents. He bathes
in a freezing lake. The lass behind
a veil of snow, watching. The next day,
a wrecked village. Bodies. Smoke
still hanging heavy in the damp air.
The head magician wears armor.
The wife wears a cap. The dreamer
wears someone else’s clothes.
The captives become chattel as the
wagons plow along. There are crows.
Lots of them. Then more blood and more
murder and more ubiquitous mist.
They’ve taken the girl, of course, and
all the food. But a quest is just the thing
to quell misgivings. Our hero rides hard
toward his death. Briefly deterred by
monstrous reanimations and lots of
growling. Volcanoes on the horizon.
Lost companions found. More beer,
more weapons. Thunder. A bridge unrolling
over a gray river. Arriving never
happens.  Later on a house built
where bones and broken cups crop up
whenever it rains–things left over from
this one life we get as the us we are.
How hard to believe oneself loved,
every dark place subdued by light.


polar bear watch

who is that one inside you you know
the one that can’t get out but does
the one that bangs-out all your love

still after ever you are not as bad
as you feel in other people’s dreams
all that water leaking from your heart

all those phantoms lined up at your till
all that clawing just beneath the grate
cicadas shut inside your ears to stay

twenty million years and still it tastes
the way it tasted when they locked it up
when homicide still counted as a date

we disregarded side effects like death
we tried to fool our predators with paint
what didn’t kill us never made us strong

that lashing girl where’s she at now
we miss her amplitudes and autoclave
god-a-mighty how we miss her little dog

image from University of Washington Digital Collections

Mostly Outside

How we loved the high style we wore
for vanishing occasions
though its warrants wore us down–
logic’s such a drag on
transformation—it just can’t match
the dark unwieldy charm of living
mostly outside yourself.

They later said a feeling
like a sorrowful trance
overcame them all at once–
they could not resist or run.
Mr. Billy found them
wandering his winter pasture,
called the sheriff to take them
home. Even hypnotized
they were unable to account
for the remote location
of their car.

That overgrown yard
I pass by after work–
rusty lawnmower abandoned
not even halfway through the job,
everything there already over,
everything already undone.

Was / Not

How could I not hope
when that was all there was–
at worst or best
(so fine a line)
I ever after knew
that good wasn’t
if I was?

Such a seller’s market
no one bought,
though everyone
looked and looked,
until things underground
rose up and militated.

It took such a long time
to be over,
and then it was.
Everyone was pretty
much undone
and I was way past
and hardly
and was.

A long time since

It had been a long time since _______ had _______.
Of course, there had been that time at _______, but
_______ could hardly count as really _______, at least
that’s what _______ had said in that _______ way of
_______, when was it, oh, _______ ago, shortly before
_______ had _______, for good, it seemed. Now, despite
_______, _______ was _______ it, but at the same time
_______ it. Nonetheless, it was good to be _______.

That is, until _______ was heading _______ and saw or
thought _______ saw _______, stepping out of _______,
wearing a _______ just like the one _______ had bought
for _______ lo these many _______ ago. Seeing _______
made _______ feel _______ despite _______ intention
never again to _______.

_______ was about to call out to _______ when _______
suddenly turned toward _______ and _______ saw a look
of absolute _______ on _______ face, as if _______ were
_______. It made _______ question _______ own
existence. Could it be that _______ had somehow _______,
that _______ had somehow _______ about _______?

The Couple

Two people, time, places, police . . .

Even before _________ and _________ were seated at _________, they started _________. The ________ focused on _________, but they both knew the real issue was _________. _________ claimed that _________, a claim that _________ considered to be totally _________ because _________ had actually _________. “Why do you always _________,” __________ said. And _________ replied by pointing out that _________ was the one who always _________. _________ could never resist adding that _________ was a _________.

As usual, they were getting _________, and people nearby were _________. But what did they care? As far as they were concerned, they were _________, and other people were just _________. They never thought of themselves separately or together as _________, which, of course, was part of the problem whenever they _________.

The year before _________ had been in _________ for _________. During that time, _________ had _________, and _________ had never forgiven _________ for _________. In fact, _________ thought that _________ could not be punished enough for _________ and started _________ every time they _________. “Don’t think you can go on _________ me,” _________ said almost daily. “I wish I were still _________ so you would just _________ about this and let me _________.” “Fat chance,” _________ would always say.

And so they had reached a kind of _________ when _________ found out that _____ had _________. The thought of this was so _________ that _________ could not _________ and instead of _________ proceeded to _________ at every opportunity, and such opportunities abounded because _________ simply refused to _________.

At night, _________ often dreamed that _________ and awoke to discover that _________. Of course, _________ thought that ________ was responsible for _________, and was in fact haunted by _________ own failure to _________ when the chance arose.

Early, too early, in the morning, _________ sat in the _________ looking out at the vast _________ and thinking ________ had really _________ things up this time. And so it was that things got out of _________ so much that _________ began to devise _________ plans to ________ with _________ even though, as everybody knows, _________ would never be _________, and any attempt to _________ would only _________ the _________.

Later on, but not later enough, when _________ was being _________ by the police in a rather _________ manner, _________ would put on a _________ face and assert that _________ was in fact _________ and had been attempting to _________ the _________ when it _________. Of course, _________ didn’t believe that _________ had _________, but played along with the _________ hoping for a _________ that was never _________. And never would be.

Long Ride

a long ride to the next world
neighborhoods sere and foggy
a bridge over a canal
an impatient bride
a lost child’s small worn shoes
another quest for the invisible
what cannot be recalled
knows nothing of despair
things ended, not begun
who can resist a dark corridor
or not let out at night, brine
mist, a mere spot of yellow:
sunshine, roses, rooms
somewhere up ahead
this ocean of feeling
subterfuge, requests
the long ride to the next world
already written over
already ridden past




what is it about sunlight that opens
or about night that encloses or cools,
what about water loosens or rock makes
still, what is it about the wind that finds us
naked, about the stars that makes us wide,
what about this day that’s undone my heart,
what this bit of cloth that makes me cry