I have become convinced
there is no devastating train
of epiphany thundering down
in the night. But still I don’t sleep.
And the monarchs flutter in
from the south
on currents that prove
knowing one’s purpose
is not an invention of man.
I only follow the currents I do
because they’ve betrayed me
the least. The city skyline is one,
lit up like an electric birthday cake.
And the traffic, too, streaming by
the apartment and hushing with intent.
All of it is there. Watching
and trying to get its message through.
But few people remember
their pounding hearts
and even then
it’s only once in a while,
like a migration,
like riding something only felt,
going on in trust
until the world forgets to continue.
At the ends of your life is a field.
When the office closes for the night
or the restaurant deadbolt locks,
when the shower curtain glides,
or when the light goes out:
there is a field there, waiting
and overflowing with mice.
They busily collect the fragments of you.
They build intricate nests from the grass
of how the fuck could you?
And the drugs and the jokes
and the liquor and the jobs
and the you will never find another
keep the mice warm and heavy with sleep.
It all goes there. Your anger.
Your reticent hope.
The mice may even dream in your ruins.
Every day you live is bookended
with a field like this, dividing the body
from the aftershock. The twilight hour
of washing dishes while the sun
is dragged kicking and screaming
over the hills, the way we kick and scream
when we are dragged out of love,
that heavy and uncompromising machine.
A rusted, derelict tractor
in the memory.
Are you a desert? Are you dismantled
in grains, or does your life come in waves,
rhythmic as seasons crawling over the land?
The years of my past are zoned and fenced-off
by state lines, jobs and women.
By friends and rum and long nights
that re-colored the patterns of my winter fur.
Each memory and idea has a sudden stop,
the way a bullet hits the earth.
Is your life like a bullet? Like regret?
Like an obsessed finch heading for the mountain peaks?
We were told we’d be capable of great things.
I stood in the dripping sun
and watched her pick raspberries.
The military came and she was gone.
Has her desire for red changed?
I crashed apartment parties. Slid against
thighs and strange walls. Enveloped the energies
that I sought and still seek.
What do you seek?
Are you the rotting couch in the adult megaplex?
Do you dance like drunks in the glow of bookstores?
Wait. Don’t leave so angrily.
There is plenty to drink. Let’s enjoy something.
Let’s talk about the river in which I had to drown
in order to become a man.
Before You Go
The world is just a place.
Then I have one mother and one father.
But they get replaced by trees and sacred
bottles of wine. By laughter and coins.
Then those things are replaced.
And replaced again.
The way friends fade in and out of your life.
How jobs come and go,
and surety about the future,
as the chambers in the heavy metallic casing
The world is just a place that spins.
I have been replaced
as many times as you,
living in the middle of the hourglass
where nothing stays for long,
living over the continents that slip
under our feet.
The world is just a place where all things
and now, dazed, step away.
People who collided in the mall
and are now on to other things.
A building in Detroit.
A mind in shock
about how far back childhood swirls.
The world is just a place until you change.
we are islands.