In plump raindrops, the construction worker, with his hard hat and faded denim jeans, dirty-orange safety vest, pulls taut a white string that comes from a manhole in the lane nearest the sidewalk. He labors slowly, like a man pulling a semi; like a centaur. With the rope over his shoulder each step is deliberate as he steps, one by one, away from the manhole. Each step a strain and burden. The object, which he pulls is never seen, always out of sight -much like the ones that are paying him. He puts the rope down, puts his hands on his waist, and stretches his neck. Students walk by, some chatting, some not. The sound of cars driving over the wet pavement rise and fall. Now the man begins to descend into the manhole. After not too long, when he comes back up, he has the other end of the string.
I’m alive, am I alive. a(lye) ive. I’m alive. a(lie) ive. am I alive. a(lye) ive. I’m alive. a(lie) ive, so a live. I’m alive, am I alive.
I sit here waiting for good things to happen, and when they finally do I don’t even think for a second that they might be because of my good actions, it’s just something good that happens to me. Instead of something that I created on the merit of my effort. I don’t give myself any credit, but for the bad, I always take credit for the bad things. Always take credit for the bad.
As it happens to me I sit here and I can’t believe, am I doing this, am I watching the blood flow right out of me, could this be how it happens. It happens. And I lie there on the floor spleen spilling out, carpet soaked. I’ve lost all filters, my stomach on the floor. Here I think, this is it, this is really happening. It happens. When you spend your whole life watching, you never live. You’ll never live again. And I think how stupid I look, laying on the floor dying, how stupid. How embarrassed am I. I didn’t hug her, like I meant. I didn’t tell him, with a look in the eyes. As it happens, I’m already dead.
Her Face a Song
She came to me. Like she knew that her pain and my guilt were forces meant to be joined together. A magnet, she walked right up to the window and locked eyes with me. She knew the guilt, the shame, that my humanity and hers would conjure up. Years of smokestain in the cracks and folds of her skin, sunken mouth and a pair of lonely brown eyes like the mouth of a tunnel. She was silent but her face sang me a song.
On the return, a moth fluttering in the back-light of a streetlamp, between the fingers of needles, then just over my head. A happen chance glance that changed the entire course of my fluttering mind.
Sometimes I think about wrapping my arms around everyone I see. Give the world a great big hug. Tell you all I’m sorry for not being there, for leaving you stranded, so all alone. But, dad’s here now. I got a little caught up in all that I smote, then I tried to keep you from seeing your mom. I shouldn’t have, she needs you. Sometimes I think about giving everyone I see a big hug. I’m here now; I’ll even be here while you sleep, and when you wake. Hold my hand, we’re crossing the street, the street filled with buzz bombs whirring, but don’t worry, we’ll get through it, we’ll make it to the other side. Sometimes I think, I could be the world’s dad, I’d embrace you with soft eyes, to let you know that you’re accepted. I’m a modern man now, and a modern dad. We all have it in us to give; that could be the power we seek, that could be our value we speak.
After reading SIT ON MY LAP, I’LL SHOW YOU HAPPILY EVER AFTER
starting and stopping in fits as he drifts —also editing along the way. always. is he the only one to ever feel(?) what it means to be alive? he dies into summer showers, into nighttime hours, into songs written across your face.
Under a dense grey sky, under the gas station canopy, a black girl wonders, sentences collapsing at the edge of her lips. She’s wearing a rain jacket with the hood partially up over the back of her head. She has legs that are like matchsticks, legs that are barely there, waiting to catch fire. She’s holding everything she owns (everything she needs), cantering around in syllables, she yells to the fungus soaked maples, something about want or need. From behind the broken down cars (or nearly broken down) parked on the side of the building a white girl comes out, fiercely walking, full of intention, her short hair in a short tail, shaved on the sides. Her flannel shirt lifts in the drifts and kisses the undersides of her arms. Short shorts so short it’s like she’s wearing legs, flicks her cigarette and walks passed the black girl -with hardly a look, and she thinks something about wants or needs. The gas station remains empty, territory claimed.
On the drive into work I’m urged forward. And there’s an urge in my chest to do more. To be more. Then I feel saddened by my lack of ability to change things, to move them forward, to shape them how I want them.
On the loading dock is a bag of scrap metal. A homeless women, an addict, wearing a safety vest, with a pink mohawk falling to the side, she eyes the bag. She looks around to see if it’s safe, she doesn’t see me, though she looks right at me. She looks in the bag and decides it’s worth the take. As she starts to gather the bag in her hands, twisting it, figuring out how to get leverage enough to lift what is certainly too heavy for her to carry, awkwardly leaning over, tattooed legs, white bruised thighs, her skirt riding too high, the bag snaps. The scrap metal spills out, clanking on the pavement. She walks away looking over both shoulders with the top of the broken bag still in hand.
What border edge is far enough? What wall plenty high? Domesticate. Eradicate. The human race. Highways snake like veins, or a river, or a blade. We carry always with us the guilt of fear. Investment. Property. Economy. Paving the world. . . we’ve got our hands stretched over a dying fire.
The state of Washington terminated the remaining members of the OPT wolf pack in Ferry county, while we camped in Mt. Rainier Nat’l forest. Isn’t our search for freedom in the confines of these borders, under flags, sort of ironic? It’s a battle that has continued throughout human history, our battle with the wolves.
The modern Poet towers over me, standing on piles of words, handheld degrees, like a decree, held tightly against the chest. Why is it that modern poetry makes me feel so small every time I venture to read it?
Outside the window, moment after moment, the night sky flashes in a brilliance of lightshow. Bursting from the shadow of memory, thunder rumbles and rolls on and on into the dark. We all stop. Rehearsing the truth in my mind, I had nothing to say. The dog trembles in tremolo. In the shatterd nightsky, crackling eggs. We momentarily left our houses, built on convenience, and entered a bliss built by the ancients.
When robins hunt it’s only a guessing game, an approximation, or so it seems. They scatter about and peck and move. Though there does seem to be some guiding principle. Each one is a sentinel unto himself, and a sentinel for the group. When you watch the robins hunt you always find there to be more of them, hiding in the shadow or bushes, than you noticed at first glance. Stoic as they are, they also seem to be pretty clumsy; a worm slipping the grip of their beak, almost seems to have become expected for them, as they pass it off with a few more pecks of dew. Very cautious, they comb the corridor of grass and soon are out of sight, hunting just beyond view.