Nate Pritts

 

 

 

The Speed of Doom!

 

One note played just right stops me

in my tracks, surrounds me with such a pleasing

nimbus of white light that I don’t even want

 

to move. I’m riveted, rooted, waiting

for what comes next. Normally, I’m gone before

I’ve arrived. Normally it takes only a fraction

 

of a fraction of a second for me to understand what

needs doing & do it. Crosstown, a school bus slips slowly

off the bridge & in one pitter-pat beat of your heart

 

I’m there to stop it. But my speed is my doom,

a giant treadmill I seem always upon.

Mornings I wake up in the same place I went to sleep.

 

I can never get ahead. I run one thousand laps

around my problems but my problems are still ahead

of me, running backward, taunting. I never stop to wonder

 

what I’ve left behind. I never stop, except now,

in thrall to such beautiful music, such complex melodies.

The time has come to reconsider my careen; what good

 

can come of running away fast? In any five mirrors

I only see you & I’m afraid I’ll never find the real you in time.

Time, as they say, is running out. As I run towards the future,

 

I find myself shrinking, my self, going, going, gone,

all my buzz & worry nothing more than a flash.

 

 

 

The Thousand Year Separation

 

My room is emptying too quickly. I’m left with a wrinkled-up rug

that doesn’t match anything & now through the wall

a giant green hand grabbing things I didn’t even realize were here.

 

Who can see the humongous yellow question mark

that hangs over my head & who can read the small

blurry script inside? I want to know where it’s all gone

 

& how to get it all back. But I’m wrestling with myself,

with the future of what I didn’t know I had & now

can’t live without. A minute is too long to be in a state

 

of without. My hands are bound in spangled silver

so I can’t even wave goodbye. All the junk that surrounds me

is junk I don’t want: spare change, keys, rotten fruit,

 

wax lips. Sure, I can excite my molecules one at a time

by remembering my happiest moments;

I can vibrate right out of my skin with past joy but

 

my hand is still waving in the air. I still have questions:

what about the candlelight that burns in the day

& what about the green sphere bouncing around my head

 

singing “Go!” Why am I the same month after month

after month—persecuted, split, empty & failed?

When will I be able to hold my tired sad head in my hands?

 

 

 

from Just Us Friends

 

:Who This Monster Really Is:

 

Grey clawed hands swinging hurdy-gurdy,

this blue-crested monster barges in on me & my friends

making all kinds of ridiculous demands:

cover the driveway with lollipop wrappers,

pluck unruly blades of grass from the front lawn

with only your teeth. We’re all uncertain

how to respond, hoping for some kind of reprieve.

My friend in blue suddenly can’t see; Red feels

like his legs are stuck together. All of us

seem literally disabled in the face of one

who demands impossible demands be met.

 

 

:Knock-Out:

 

Yesterday my friend in blue took a right hook to the jaw,

sat down depressed on the school yard & just looked

at the rest of us. His eyes told of the pity of deserts,

the yawning emptiness of marshmallows. Since then

he hasn’t talked to us, our protector. Seen just now

with some people who were not any of us, my other friends & I

worry we’ll have to start defending ourselves

& turn our highest degree of vigilance inward.

 

 

:Free For All:

 

Since Blue has decided he wants out, the rest of us

have subtly turned on each other. Red & Green,

always uncomfortable around each other,

have started actively sabotaging the hopes of the other.

 

Red has written numerous letters

to a popular Hollywood actress, letting her know

that Green is dangerous when bereft of his blankie,

that he likes to eat cow dung.

 

Green secretly changed Red’s mailing address

so that Red will always walk back lonely from the mailbox.

 

My female friend thinks these are the end times,

that the starfish who loses a limb doesn’t grow it back

but instead devours the others

out of a misguided sense of symmetry.

 

 

:Irresistible Force:

 

Blue called last night to say he was doing well

& how are we all doing & is it ok if he comes by

to pick up those cds he loaned me because, frankly,

he’s doing so great he doesn’t think he’ll ever need

to call us friends again.

Come by in the afternoon,

I say, wondering how to play a car radio so loud

that I could hear it even in the back bedroom closet

with the door shut tight.