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.
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.
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.