You are a dead man’s phone
and I am calling that phone.
You are the busy signal
and I am confused. You are
a to-be-continued dream
and I am wanting to continue.
I am coffee. You are steam
when it rises to where we
cannot see it. I’m the roof.
You’re the ceiling. How else
to say it. I am September 21, 2009
and you are September 23, 1884.
A day later you were a pair of shoes
tied together by their laces
and I dreamed of walking
though I hadn't been built yet.
But when I was I was power lines.
Then you were power lines and I was
the silhouette of power lines
and you were the silhouette of power lines
with two birds walking on a wire.
They are headed toward each other
and they do not know what they will say
when they meet.
Then I died but didn’t
notice. Life went on
as it had except smells
got crossed out for me
even up close.
A poem would start
and I’d think wait
am I started already?
It was like remembering
a time all the time.
I kept using my phone
but less. The sun
was more fluorescence.
Most of the dreams
for my next life had
been turned too tight
and tossed aside in
the mud of some other
ending’s adventure. I wrote
the pages blank. I aged.
For a while that’s all I did.
The history of poetry is in books. No getting around it.
I spend most of my time sitting in one room or another.
Weather must work for my attention. No getting around that either.
What do the birds think about this? It isn’t clear. And I can’t just ask.
They sit in a tree outside the room and chirp, a reminder
that ‘an environment destroys you until you create it’
is a useful illusion to believe in. If conversation is pushing
words into the world to prolong closure and its yawning face
then I am glad to be in a room with people. If the room
has held a lexicographer and a wolf’s head, even if they were
never present at the same moment, that is still something
to take under careful consideration.
If it is forbidden to know what you plan on writing
then I am succeeding right now, in this very moment
I am playing soccer with the ocean.
So it follows that one cannot ask
what the sky feels like to a window.
One must invite another inside. One must reach
for another’s suitcase. Invited into these rooms
and these books, we must paint their ceilings
before we steal the crane, the kind
with a wrecking ball. Or maybe
a good night’s sleep will change all this.
It had no return address, just a drawing
of a human heart. I placed it, brown and
unextraordinary, on the table and tried to
open it but it flaps were covered in tape.
I peeled away the tape. Under the tape
was more tape. Under that, more tape.
I dug out some scissors and slid them
along the sides of the box without finding
a crease. I tried a knife. The box broke
my knife. It bent my pliers. A crack shivered
through the handle of my hammer. My
shovel’s head dented in. I tried scissors again
then a blowtorch. The box put itself out
and sat unmoved, a blank wall. I fantasized
its death. It stared back, its own religion.
I threw it across the room. The box seemed
undisturbed by my outburst. From the distance
of a room, the drawn heart appeared to
be beating. I got out a larger pair of scissors.
There were people here when I started.
I have a life but no direction
It is like a living room with no couch
It is like not playing the guitar
The room is filled with people
forced to stand They shift
their weight from foot to foot
to foot Their knees hurt
The cat that enters the room
is bored by the lack of things to scratch
and turns back down the hallway
Time stretches out
like awful sentences
which I am giving you
examples to choose from
The cat in this metaphor is your vessel
It heads to the stairwell
and there is nothing you can do
At the bottom of the stairs
is the hold of a ship
where I am not the famous captain
I am her parrot
I say one thing and I say it well:
Large flowers grow down here kitty
but don’t be fooled by their color
or their blindness they’ll eat you
kitty and you’ll keep on living