Even the mannequins change

as the headlights pass over them, swathing them in

strangeness. A face briefly lit, magnetized by

street light. Or an arm vibrating, as if to touch the shocked

surfaces, cracked sidewalks and neon-scald of walls,

while the other arm, unlit, sleeps on, apart from the whirring

interventions, shut doorways strung by light,

zig-zagging shadows, grown animate with each anxious

and precise erasure, advancing like hostile take-overs

onto the newly minted glass.

I feel the unstable atoms in my skin, nerve-paths roughened

by the smallest detonations.


There’s quietness a moment, then the mannequins

buffeted by night-sounds, currents thickening and knotting in the leafy

air, where listening is a kiss slowly changing in another’s

open mouth.


If there be abundant sand left (there is not)

If there be certainty and stillness (there is not)

If there be stalled brilliances and volatile undoings

If there be fraught silence

trackless night–


Look how the store windows glitter. Irradiated

mirrors, strenuous slashings over the false alarms

of the mannequins’ smooth faces. The mannequins standing

too whitely, as in illness. And above them,

through the smog, the moon’s light gauzy dress, pierced

and tattered, twirling gravely downward, heavy with its own undoing,

falling in a slow relentless drowning.


Then there’s quietness again. Then flashing sirens–

the mannequins putting on color as red lights twist past their windows

giving them red wings, red wings out of each shoulder, rippling and lifting

over the envious

silver, prisoned glass.