One calls in sick. Another calls from the street. The
last calls in, I can barely hear, says, “They are bombing my quarter
today. I cannot possibly make it in to work.” I look around me.
What can I do? I cannot build the great ship without others to fit it
together. I have a model, here, I’ve made out of toothpicks. I could
show you what I expect. But the last time I showed you, you said there
was thunder. But I hear no thunder now, just your voice. Saying “no
you’re crazy,” falling off again until morning.
You cannot know what sense to make. The lamb you pet may have swallowed
a clock. The clock may explode without warning. When this happens, you
look at the wreckage and find that you cannot reconnoiter. The lever you
used has broken, or never was. In its place is a piece of glue. You cannot
melt it with your breath. And if you could, nothing would form but another
melting device. Once such moments rose often. You used a ruler the size
of a synapse to measure the distance between them. Equaling what. You
reach for my hand, and you find it has become a numbered post. In the
middle of December, you are alone. The camera is rolling. You are the
hero’s replacement. In your undershirt. You will save a plaster
cosmos that sits in a tank full of sparkles. You do not need to speak.
The emphasis is on action. Just cut the cord when they say slide.
Let yourself fall until you hit the thorns. Someone will scream for you,
if you can’t think of the words. The enemy is putting on its costume.
I glance away at the sound of a whistle blowing. I realize it is my tea,
and I have been writing a letter to you all this time, and the cause is
|Max Winter, winner of the Fifth Annual Boston Review Poetry Contest, has poems appearing recently in Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Volt, The Yale Review, The Canary, Denver Quarterly, First Intensity, GutCult, TYPO, and New Young American Poets (Southern Illinois, 2000). He has published reviews in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, and BOMB. He is a Poetry Editor of Fence.