poetry, prosetry

fading out under the ashes of the night

For the child, time stretches out immeasurably in all directions, and it’s as if nothing more is needed than unencompassed possibility. A little blonde girl walking down the sidewalk with her father makes eye contact with me as I sit myself down in the couch by the window in the deepening sunset evening to read. She gives me the warmest little girl smile and a friendly wave as if fanning simple kindness my way through thick summer air and I hear her say “the neighbor” to her dad over the cicadas’ divertimento, without hearing what came from him. Did she come from him? I wonder about her future, and, in doing so, think back to what was once mine and I remember the way it looked from the interior, seemingly infinitesimal like looking up at stars projected on the dome of a planetarium. For some of us, the ceiling is just another direction. For others, it’s a destination.

My friend has been dead for six years though I only found out today and I’m not at all sure what kind of friend that makes me but I am certain we once shared dreams like young friends do of being more than where we came from. Some nights are defined by lack. Some nights are just thoughts. Some nights are like tonight.

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poetry

Houseboat

Lazing riverside
Summer’s night
Splintered tables
Sticky thighs
Discarded suit jackets
Loosened ties
Abandoned shoes
Delirious eyes
Plastic jugs of booze
Dehydration maximised

Too much cider, too much wine
Collapsing on the Circle line
Starving grass beneath your feet
Grown tired of the city heat
Of fake Ray-Ban glasses
Of skin that peels off in sheets
Of volcanic buses
Of angry #heatwave tweets

I sit here, quietly,
Upon my molten seat
Catching drops of another nosebleed
Stirring my 2 litres of Pimms
Realising that it’s only ever
On days like this
Through the combination of having had
Too much to drink and enough of the heat
That I allow myself to dwell:
On where and who we could be
That I allow myself to imagine:
My God, how happy we’d be
That I allow myself to think:
If only we’d bought that fucking houseboat.

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poetry

Brexi(s)t

when you want to live
but, at the same time,
you also want to die
you do neither:
you merely exist
like dirty laundry
and electricity,
like abandoned cars
and stagnant air,
like unwritten rules
and unused ink,
like your potential
which you feel certain
will remain
unfulfilled
whether you live or die.
but you also exist
in the same way
that tomorrow’s newspaper exists:
you need Tomorrow
in order to Be:
and you’ve got stay alive
if you want to read the headlines.

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prosetry

Span

Maybe one day we’ll meet and neither of us will know what to say for no reason other than. It’ll sound like the weaponization of awkwardness, imagined future meeting imagined present, imagining all those incomplete sentences and overanalyzed gestures, till I go and spoil it with answers (I imagine) because I love to believe and love even more to explain—at least till I go and hate myself for it later—and you cut me off, knowing how things play out, to talk about finding words that are fuller and fewer and sharper and less noisy and I say I tried, answering, exaggerating, for this lifetime I tried, knowing you know better.

You’d roll our eyes, and I’d peculiarly change the subject, or seem to. Chapter V, “Beta, The Disappointed Lover,” I’d say, dangling it out there to speak for me less noisily. It was marked, you’d recall as if on cue, by a folded up printout of Wisława Szymborska’s Nobel address, of all things, and we’d get on about how neither of us remember doing that and about how dragging two Polish poets into this like this is like the start of a joke only Polish poets would find funny. And there I’d be, a little disappointed you didn’t have more answers than I but happy to be on the same page. 111, I think it was.

For now, as I sit in a quiet café across from the presumption of you, I distract myself from thoughts of our little rendezvous with seemingly comparable thoughts of starting a literary magazine out of the blue with a troupe of fringe-dwelling strangers called The Against because sometimes a little carnivalization is better than the silly sum-seeking rum-running of being for something before burying my nose in a worn copy of the Oxford Companion to Music that I got for a few dollars at a summer book fair at this city’s greatest bibliothèque of the humanities for no reason other than that they were there, library and book, and me, full of pent-up irony, as though it might contain answers to questions I don’t yet know I’ll want to ask.

The air outside is cold and the cold outside starts to remind me inside of all the fancy things I thought before I started sticking to the present and ceased to ruminate in caffeine-whiskey pools upon my moony captivation with the lofty side of experience like it was a new neighborhood in a new city I might move to. Laferrière said “the more I try to get close to myself, the more I’m hiding something. There is nothing more fake than real life.” I think I’ll stay here, it’s the only way to get anywhere, speaking of dualities. It’s only life. It’s only everything. I’m only me, now and then. I only stop so often because it’s so hard to begin, but beginning’s like holding an unread book, you just want to carry it around a while, inobjectively, reveling in the elementary allure of possibilities and all their exquisite contradictions.

I close the Companion and look across the small table at your empty chair. Never have I envied you, never have I even feared, only imagined a certain oneness, a wholeness of experience of the sort they say we find in sickness, in violence, in the invasive presence of others, in words.

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