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.

The Centenarian

Wind swept skirt, there are melodies hidden
in the ankles that drive you forward. Circles
in squares -a massing of limbs- a garden
of delicacy shivering in certain
morning rains. Compose to manipulate;
the face smiles first. Then the bodily curl
of a stomach yawning inward retakes
control as the perianth drools and unfurls.

· · ·

A remembered kiss of excitement. Hand
on hip, then the hiss of metal searing bone
as though a leaf pile devoured a firebrand.
Eschatology warned me of dark cyclones,
hurricanes, earthquakes and torrential rain
but this was not as planned: we met death from all
around. Tools too sick with fits of wolfsbane
saturated wounds and left my men mauled.

· · ·

Tulip, there was a war and I was told
to erase it. I built over the craters
-salt soaked and warm- until there was pavement
in all directions. Unaware of its grim
impact, I used resources like salt in
an ice storm. Sulfur Dioxide? Acid
Aerosols? When the sunset grew more vibrant,
I was told my work was to blame for it.

Prophecies be damned, the world was always ending.
That I survived a few wars means nothing. I know
now there are things worse than the wrath of a planet:
when it decides to not take you along with it.