July 12, 2019
Jul 12, 2019
Half already living in the new way
Half attached to disregarded promises
We seem to have gotten lost on the way to the club—
I blame Donal! He and Mike got me into this
Making our way down the middle of an unlit street through a landscape partly city partly open plain—
Late-night party sounds from living rooms—empty lots and uncapped sewers—it’s hard to tell what’s occupied and what’s abandoned
Adam loops around us on his bike, saying just a couple blocks . . .
Look out! Dead cat—
It’s undecayed but plastered to a hump in the grass
Its tail curls pointedly toward an open hole
We peer down into it but Cary tugs my sleeve and murmurs, uhh, live dog?
Pitbull watching from the porch, no leash, no gate—
I startle but he smiles
Later at the bar he says yeah I work in the Tenderloin
I’m always on the lookout for whether things are dead or alive
California seems so far away . . .
Absently he snaps a button on his cowboy shirt
Then he takes a candy wrapper out of his pocket and says, we should use this
Nodding at the darkened door
It’s a ticket—gold foil?
I shine my phone light on it—tiny iridescent lines of text flash out
He lets another button go and I’m all in
“This is the work of Memory, when you are about to die
Go down to the well-built house of Hades. There is a spring on the right side, and standing by it a white cypress.
Do not even go near that spring!
The guards will ask you what you are seeking in the darkness:
Say, ‘I am a child of Earth and starry Sky, I am parched with thirst and I am dying; please grant to give me water from the Lake . . .’”
The poem about the body, and the poem above the body
The way you’re in one place, and the way you’re on a journey
Or maybe I’m just someone who runs errands
Before I traveled to New Orleans I drove back home to western New York State, the land of the dead
Watery coffee in the cupholder / Funeral suit in the trunk
Is it a road trip if you’re alone?
Chargers and Mustangs, Chargers and Mustangs—
Halfway there and going 85 you’re really in the headspace
That guy from Kentucky wants to mess with you but you don’t take the bait! His license plate reads ALL NUTS
Starting out from Washington was slow
I caught the scent of marshland in a tiny paradise near BWI—but paradise for what?
A doe—you see one flash behind the trees—all that muscle built from chomping leaves—
And at the marsh’s center, nowhere you could step—you’d have to melt or somersault into another form—
Traffic picks up and bam! It’s Pennsylvania
Back at the bar we’ve made it to the other side
Yaeji’s singing Raingurl
The documentarians are draped on couches and snuggling in love seats
They don’t seem to hang out with the feature people
There’s a lot of pirates in here, and medieval wights, and bon vivants in stripper costumes
Wait, how do you dress like a—
PJ and I agree that jumpsuits are hot but why?
Talena: body-length zippers, hello!
The couches are velvet and the walls deep red—
Donal and I start comparing notes on that Twin Peaks reboot
I was grossed out by the whole time loop thing at the end, it just felt like Lynch not owning up to his Manicheism
And haven’t we reached peak dead girl
Sorry! Criticism creeping into poetry
What does Vivaldo tell Ida in Another Country?
“I’m just a fucked up group of people”
I’m a two-part person writing out of incompatible moods
It’s Planningtorock now
With passerine agility the living and the dead gavotte from room to room
I feel low to the ground but peopled
The disaster has already happened and everyone knows it will come again
I turn to Adam and I ask him, so do you like it here? He grins at me and says, it’s the best place on earth
I grew up in this sanctuary straining to hear a sound
It was Vatican II but Operation Rescue
When my dad couldn’t drive anymore my mother would take us to Burger King for an hour and make up a homily afterward
But I loved my uncle Art and I’m glad to have something to offer
Brothers and sisters, it begins
“. . . we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have another building,
a dwelling not made with hands . . .”
Paul moved around a lot
On Google maps it looks like it would take you 18 hours to get from Corinth to Ephesus
“This route has tolls / includes a ferry ride / crosses a country border”
Now I feel bad that I edited his letter . . . !
Let me put the God back in
Looking down at the assembled I can see the front door, open
To see the light is almost to walk down the aisle
I could so easily have been that priest after services on some broad lawn in a summer breeze, thinking with satisfaction how the Lord made the birches
But I’m on the road back home
It’s not the flooding, is it, or the fires
It’s not the mass extinction
It’s what kind of struggle will this be, and what will we become
What I mean is, will the terminal pressure on the way the rich make us make value pit us all against each other?
Also will we mutate fast enough
The Goldilocks in me is always trying to imagine a remediated future where everything is just the right price
The Christian wears me down by always asking me to poke through the material world
I’ve driven myself half crazy thinking I can sift out what’s the redemptive part and what’s the hell
But not tonight
Outside through the door behind the door a zombie’s buying barbeque for twenty girls in firefighter costumes
Between two DJ sets you can hear the karaoke down the street
It’s like there’s no pure silence
My fears are talking smack about my dreams but I’m not listening
I have been to lots of parties, in expensive capitals and godforsaken little towns
I have found myself at the impossible point where the cyclone meets the counter-cyclone
Have you ever had that feeling where there’s just about no difference between being ready to dance and ready to go to the wall?
When those chords break through I know that I am not a two-part person, and neither are you
You are something unforeseeable—something that sings—
Oh my friends it’s going down and we may not survive but liberation beckons in all things . . .
In memory of Kevin Killian
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July 12, 2019