Proximity isn’t necessarily
possibility—for example, while I
could eat my teeth, I could never say them, nor
could I say rain inscribes this page, that pavement—
but here in the marked-down hum of broken meaning
can we agree on peace’s casualties?
A decade of what I made of clarity:
idea causes pain that builds brains of its own.
Only numbers mean anything or nothing.
Oh! Blessed rage for comfort, a fifth of Patrón.
And if I curse the world’s useful miseries,
can I tell you, too, how fond I am of Earth
upon deboarding the redeye from New York
to San Francisco after jokes in my sleep,
as each sunlit minute unquietly runs
itself out, the clouds too few to have to count,
the horizon post-fuck-up untouchable?
That I always almost don’t get what I want
makes me crazy; would make me what, upper crust
in some parts of history, but never now,
when I make rent, or way back when, when I can’t.
I can say rain makes the pavement look supple—
a decade of what I thought was clarity:
ten short years of that and then actual bells.
To think to not believe I was ever here’s
the cost of my living, the rickety thing.
Health might be my having only felt alive.
Flies haul bits of shit into the fruited air
for real. They don’t seem to mean to, but they do.
In alcohol years, it’s your birthday somewhere.
You smell like a person. You act like one, too.
Clarity is equal parts rigor and drift.
Think of a state of mind and you’re not in it.
If wanting to possess causes fear of loss,
then my subject has always been vanishing.
Life’s just enough to make a life incomplete.
Hours at a time, a dying cynosure,
you, my face if it were printed on money,
you’ve got the nerve to tell me that I’m standing
too close to this poem, but I wrote the thing.
You know you’re certifiable, now don’t you?
Your posting of the sun, your ability
to squeeze or slacken air, to push it to make
the day cooler or warmer—but where’s the sky
the real game you say you’re playing is about?
This particular morning makes it seem like
I’m in a capsule of famous medicine,
and as the winter winds down and adds up, I’m
all too aware of how I came to be here,
alone in public daylight, almost of use,
and chasing moth-quick flakes of burning paper.
Another new one on me, the enemy,
the name of this poem is not “Villanelle”—
be my guest, crank up the internet and check—
and it sounds like an anagram but isn’t.
Another tepid day in hell, another
tired expression thrown just shy of “I get it”—
it’s always right now for the gods and the dead.
That said, that’s what you said, you who, not yet dead
and not yourself a god, are here near the red
north water of the river I’ve invented.
You know I’ll do my best and, well, not much else,
and that’s painful not to tell and hard to say.
By you, I abide you—by crawling around—
as meaning, plural, gets bled along the ground.