Oh the things we wished for
that we wouldn’t say,
the dog-eared threadbare quandaries
of our loves, our soft dreams
and high heels and
how we never told
for lack of wanton gesture
our fare was higher than the rest,
ahead of schedule, too, alas,
before our various beauties fled
and all the little birds to ground.
Something different in inhabiting
space when you hunker down, the escarpment
of things to hold downhill all knowing or
to expedite escape, a night closed up
like a house or the hand that catches you,
the net that trips you up, impediments
bearing the wear of your mind, we must say
its little wheel gone back and forth and round,
now there’s your only mojo all worn down.
The letdown you feel when you discover
the character was only dreaming or
only deranged or only dead, the whole
collapsed–arbors, ships, and telegraphs
your mind with its delicate hammer nails
recognition at last of someone once
vaguely known or a terror circumscribed,
scribbled instructions to unearth and then
unwind the spaceship idling in a secret
tunnel with its hooded eyes, and yes, yes,
sympathy for the monkey now you know
only paint held everything together.
I always felt as if I’d been in a cocoon but had absorbed it instead of emerging from it, so it was always with me, always just beneath my skin, inescapable, impossible to shed. There was a sadness in this that Matu surely could not imagine when she said to me once “You’re such a compact, contained little person. Always have been.”
How you move from one version to another, how the most recent version is both engendered and interrupted by the last version, how whatever the present in-between version is, it still bears the traces of earlier versions and now the things those traces were connected to are gone. Writing it is like trying to make sense of some mysterious thing.
Sometimes early on it’s like this accretion, this densely populated place with things hollering for attention. Then things start falling out and you think you’ve got it but when you look at it again you see a clean room full of headless people.
So you set up something to challenge it, something like a certain number of words or syllables or beats per line and then some of the old crowd shows up as well as people you didn’t invite and there’s a masked person in there randomly whipping them.
And some of them are enjoying it.
In the end it becomes a kind of crowd control, though none of it is ever well-behaved.
you thought you were rolling on when it was
rolling over you look around now guess
what you don’t get to be a magician
it’s just too late for lots of things though it’s
probably lucky you didn’t get to
queen it around that car packed for transport
for the rest it’s just that vociferous
complaining out in the hall just part of
the gown and tubes and no one coming when
consciousness happens–the one thing you know
What troubled our translation was
the gazes that became the mask we wore
till in private we could not remove
those others not our fellows but our cage
our back and forth, so then disasters
came already done, so much the same
except the things we loved.
The place where you sat in the sun is still
sunny. The yard still bristles with chimes
in strong wind. My bad eye still lives
in a world with two moons. Our room is still
a mess. And the malaise is still here. And
I still expect to see you in every
waking moment and every dream. And
everything’s exactly as you left it
but you’re gone.
“I hate every wave of the ocean.” — Charles Darwin
What land means when it settles in your view
after your body stops bobbing beneath your mind:
everything you thought you ever knew
suddenly not punishing but kind.
When death stopped by the room was ready–
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.
image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/
We cannot contain the things we’d ask
now our own selves are not the sole objects
of our wonder, now we can’t see the future
for the past, and futures we imagined
seem already passed, the planet a house
we once lived in going on without us
while our terrors multiply. We know how
the next thing happens: the road we’re on threads
through us till we are no longer us, till
there’s just the drift, the float, the between that
comes with disaffection, the hole we wear
in the world that makes saying giving up.
No signals yet not meaning all’s benign,
the sentence we don’t know is counting down.
The sun always sounding close in your ear
such small consolations as appear in error
or misaddressed to a you no longer a you
you can recollect.
Still, wonder is fresh and often abrupt
as terror—the poison of open places
your open heart.
The nagging of old injury wearing
like outrage considered from afar.
You cannot remember their names
staring at their scuffed shoes unexpected
such disdain, such casual cruelty.
There was not an hour without it
or the echo of the way it frayed and
stumped deciphering, how you were suddenly
not one of them, how they made you
a refugee no matter where you were.