Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Walk Home

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”
-Raymond Chandler


High tops sprang toward the base of a fire escape.
It is true, it has been snowing: the iron gives a
gorgonic hiss as residue clumps into a
mess of what looks like bellybutton lint. No, not
enough time, shouldn’t have considered this, three more
floors until the buildings will shade what tracks exist.

The cistern: city beneath another city.
It is calling, the rooftops are unsafe. Below
there are lean byways without traffic lights. Stop signs
made up of canals, the discarded memories
of our bodies all at once, mixing into rags,
Styrofoam cups, half-eaten food squeezed through
tight passages like subway trains. I am afraid.

“Live life accordingly” reads a poster for a
suicide hotline. I dangle a foot in front
of it and drop, stunning a pile of cold muck with
both high tops. For just a second, I’m a compass:
I shudder for direction, support myself and
pivot, responding to the darkness like one half
of a magnet. The city is an attitude

it keeps like a secret, confusing stars with dim
lantern filaments, deeming them unimportant.
I’ve seen myself sweat at sunrise and thought about
loss. I’ve slept in the cistern and walked on rooftops.
If one thinks too much they’ll drive themselves unusual
which can be a good thing if one enjoys funerals.

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Will said...

This poem has a lot of really rich imagery and a really complicated speaker. Often times this works to its advantage:

It is true, it has been snowing: the iron gives a / gorgonic hiss as residue clumps into a / mess of what looks like bellybutton lint."

and

"Styrofoam cups, half-eaten food squeezed through / tight passages like subway trains. I am afraid."

Being the simpleton that I am, I find the poem most emotionally affecting when it is most plainspoken, though:

"“Live life accordingly” reads a poster for a / suicide hotline. I dangle a foot in front / of it and drop..."

and

"If one thinks too much they’ll drive themselves unusual"

Just awesome.