Hour Twelve: Ascension

Hour Twelve: Ascension

The same person, cheerful, moving,
Laid the groundwork for exception,
Has a penchant for disaster
To call attention to status, luxury, and a staircase to nowhere
There, opened, is exuberant love.
(An erasure poem created using the New Yorker review of Mercado Little Spain restaurant in the June 10 & 17, 2019, issue)

Hour 11: to myself age 28

Hour 11: to myself age 28
Look, hon, I know you’re exhausted
from 55-hour weeks leading to the unknown
from miles of linoleum halls in chafing
    shoes
from snow-bound days and long, lonely
   nights
from 2,000 miles with two cats meowling
You’re weary and aching and so grateful to be going to Texas you could eat the dirt at the state line if you had some barbecue sauce.
But please, please, please don’t give away the long green witchy Holy Clothing dress (that you paid a good chunk of student loan money for) because someone thinks it’s unprofessional.
Please don’t let anyone convince you to donate the mixtapes you made in kindergarten covered in your happy kid writing and featuring Living on a Prayer at least three times.
And please, please don’t let anyone tell you that your pain isn’t real, that you need to suck it up. Or that you’re making it up. Don’t become convinced you’re only worth your job title and hide in a tiny apartment from unemployment shame.
Don’t stop dancing just because you’re the only one doing it.
Find yourself people who want to dance.
There you’ll learn everything you need to know.

Hour 10: Bottled Up

Hour 10: Bottled Up
There’s that damm canteen on the shelf
If you unscrew the cap, you can see where years of coffee left their mark
Of all the times we stood on the
        concrete dock
Moonbeams dancing on water
Nearby fir trees standing tall, dark guard
As fog slid over it all
And you said
                   Hush.

Hour 9: Patterns of the Universe

Hour 9: Patterns of the Universe
It’s spirals, right?
Not any sort of line that I can see.
Whirls and whorls and spirals and circles and ovals
Around and around we go
Where we end up–we often know
We like the well-trodden path through the cornfield
The comfort of returning again and again.
Unpleasant though it may be
There’s no place like home.

Hour 8: exchange rate

Hour 8: exchange rate
I have the compact yet ornate bookcase, the drab green soup pot, the maroon v-neck sweater in a Ziploc bag to try to save a smell.
I don’t have her laugh, his sparkle in his eye when he thinks of a joke, or the dusty red door to open.
Not a fair exchange, but you get no say in these transactions.

Hour 7: Wayfinding

Hour 7: Wayfinding
There’s something to that
The way I know you’ll always crouch
And gently stroke the leaves
Telling me to watch how they respond
There’s something in that
One landmark in this shifting sandbox of a city
Where I got lost downtown today
Just for a moment
Where I’m losing me
Where it’s losing me
Where my memories land with a thunk in steel boxes, are carted away in shuddering clouds of diesel exhaust
In all of this
There’s you
And me
And a resurrection fern
And at least that’s one thing I know
That your finger will run up those leaves
As you tell me
watch
closely.

Hour Six: mis • fit

Hour 6: mis • fit
There are times you cannot move
The walls won’t allow it
Fear forbids it
(If you move it’ll take longer, deep down somehow you know that)
There are loud places
Made smaller by the pressure of sound.
Time lengthens, stretched to its limit
Until it’s up.

Hour Five: Overlay

Hour 5: Overlay
I still don’t know why
I was insisting on listening to Portishead
Like my existence depended on it.
Or what was so important about that red wheel.
Or how the narwhal got its wings.
These crumbs follow me
To breakfast and beyond.

Hour Four: Surface Tension

Hour 4: Surface Tension
There are weights that no surface can bear
Spilling out globules of pain
That roll under refrigerators and couches
Scurry between pages, dive into drawers
To lie in wait for the next spring cleaning, the eventual moving day
When they propel themselves right at the heart
Ripples of memory following
Sinking deep in the gut
Sinking deeper, deeper, deeper
Till we’re slumped on the floor
Spilling out globules of pain all over again.

Hour 3: Underneath

Hour 3: Underneath
Where the corners meet
Under the tapoica-pudding ivory paint
A crack runs up the seam
Outlining the sturdy steel bones of this place
Scarred yet strong
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