that there’s a car in space
but a dummy in the front seat
that everyone’s equal
but no one is responsible
we carry wands called cellphones
to fix our first-world problems
they thought, let us
climb that, ride that,
build that, break that,
surf that, sail that, fly away,
find new lands, foul them up,
fix them in our image
and now you’re drawing a blank
The wail woke me.
sat me up in bed,
I had been sleeping.
outside the dorm
wondering what’s the point
of a fire-alarm test in an ice-storm.
There were no real fires that winter,
spring, summer, or fall,
and, today, there are no sirens at my house,
but every so often something happens that resounds
the scream, the call
to exit, to be brought out of dreaming,
to be cranked out of jack-in-the-box living.
Remember the long-gone glimmer of weekends,
whittling ourselves into glamour girls,
un-walk-able shoes, un-dance-able songs,
the disappointment that lives
on the other side of a night out?
Beneath the froth of our conversation:
crisscrossing channels of sentiment,
peacocking plumes of hot air,
miles-long trenches of silence.
There are beings
who live deep
in the unspeakable,
too flimsy of form
to surface alone.
Still, we try:
hauling them up
one word at a time.
In my rush, I took the wrong bus.
In my fatigue, I didn’t get off.
I could’ve sworn the scrolling sign said North,
but the bus headed East at 12:21.
Perhaps we see what we want to see, a palindrome.
Perhaps the universe branched, part of me took the straight
and my double took the detour. No one’s alarmed,
we aren’t hijacked, I took the wrong bus…
I’ve been this way before…
three years ago, looking for open mic night
— found my classmate four beers into his teddy-bear-hobo routine,
three years before that, looking for a book signing,
— asked some guy standing outside, “Is this the line for _________?”
His mouth said no, but his eyes said something else.
The pause was full of possibility.
What does it mean that when I get lost, I go East,
that I set out for book-signings and end up at bars,
And the boys that set me straight
look like sad, drunken saviors?
My sensitive friend picks up
Signals from cell-towers,
Bits of words, torrents of social media conversation.
Sometimes it’s all too much.
She thinks they’re her own
Rhetoric and vitriol.
I want to tie her thought-balloon down,
To ground her the way others
Have grounded me,
So that we can grow down together,
So that her first touch of grey will reach the tip,
So that my laugh lines deepen into rivulets,
Pulling newly hewn wisdom into action–
Wait. Here comes a text message…
__________’s passed. She was sick for a long time.
__________’s husband passed. He was sick much shorter.
The memorial’s on Wednesday, hump day, a day to celebrate what’s done and what’s soon to be. I’ve realized I’m sewn into a sweater much larger than I thought
and someone’s taking it all out, knit, purl and all.
Meanwhile, the pendulum swings
Listen, the goal is not that one triumphs over the other
But that none triumphs over the all.
The juggler succeeds
because he holds on to nothing:
bowling pin, hacksaw, flaming baton,
man’s tool or talisman,
he releases them all.