Couldn’t you see the ending before it unraveled you?
Would you mind lying down first?
Did you come by foot over the new bridge?
Here where the poem becomes
the little girl returned with candy
& a nearly on her lips.
the bankrobber’s melody
in the evening shower upstairs
with the hump
of the ceiling fan
like the telephone
into the fury of the vacuum.
your wet forearm
over the misted-up mirror.
Bundles of twenties duct-taped
into the busted oven.
out of bed, needs earliness,
hours of it,
landscapes into her old Holga camera: railroad
bridge, garbled depot, plasmabank on South
will wander drunk to a crushed payphone
the quarter into the gummed slot
the conversation anyway.
The mailman is deaf & accidentally keeps ringing
the doorbell with his elbow as he pushes a package
into the slot.
Irate, our neighbor drags the gushing
sprinkler in from the lawn, alert enough
to keep her robe closed with the same hand
clutching her morning cocktail. Frank assures
me that she’s from Poland & then fixes us
a couple of morning cocktails too.
I conjure up all I can remember about Warsaw:
our hotel across from the bored grizzly at the zoo,
bland restaurant jazz, soup the color of oil
& it amounts to so little
that I have nothing kind to say to the sprinkler-lady
& nothing whatsoever to say to Frank about having been there.
You can’t even pronounce it properly.
A word for a city.
Sounds simple enough.
Did they last all night in the treehouse?
Exactly what has destroyed your memory?
Did you unscrew this doorknob a little tiny bit like you were asked?
To pull down: an attic ladder.
Climb it, creakily, up.
You should really apologize
& bring those dreams into the diner, well…
soothed, but with you,
Sleep it open.
The thieves had lifted
themselves out of the tunnel
with such swiftness—
they rinsed their faces & hands
in the subway washroom,
paused for the clicking turnstile
to click back
& assure a crowded entry just
as the train doors opened, bustling, out.
Your soldier hangs his dark uniform
neatly in the washroom
stall & re-enters the city
If it’s hung carefully enough somebody will
wear it out & disappear against you,
as you’ve reappeared yourself
differently & finished.
Cities are for
breaking you into several people
have white egrets,
noise enough to pull
the eyes out of your head.
If drizzle, then
Home almost, at
least where words cut your lip & I spoke
you together & then back apart.
A fear of all basements & attics,
fear of triplets & twins.
Fear of trees that lean badly
onto powerlines or houses.
A fear of the sixteenth hour
& flawless numbers.
Of uncles heavy with booze & the hasty games of cousins.
Fear of the telegram & the wires of the doorbell.
In swimming pool light
the boy who freed the moth
plods back up the stairs, does
a little dance in the mirror
He has cats & sisters & confuses on purpose
break down in a street sweeping huff
& the city has its
imperial way with us.