Today I’m perspiring a cadge of peregrines to twiddle in my mind
while I wait for a bus. The real ones don’t do like they used to.
Commercial language filters like gossamer; a distance waived
in the blue day to a close-up on my conceptual framework of the birds:
a hover in the sky littered with windows, ducking under probable
patterns of movement, contracting and expanding with such fluency
I might think they understood that plainly sufficient hypotheticals
just don’t feel enough anymore and they wanted to do something
special. To my left and to my right, acres of chronically successful
citizens; a diffidence of introverts not shoegazing on the sidewalk
and also decidedly not lapsing their most vital years thinking about
poetry, unlike this one, a stuttered shoegazer lapsing his most vital
years thinking about poetry. I’ll say I achieve success by abandoning it.
I wave to it from a distance; it doesn’t wave back. It gets on the bus
going in opposite directions, ads and all, my cadge of peregrines breaking
to flow after it, down highways and night streets, in and out of conveniences
I will never see, leaving me and my own to hobble forth and away.
I’m in a bottleneck. I’m sending myself out as a regulated series of beeps
to be received by those on the other side. That’s how I choose to see it.
And if far enough down the line I’ve no contact with that rumored
congregation of neverthriving gamblers, I may resort to a mad squawking,
a flailing of limbs, tilling the air of its resources, coaxing whatever
nutrients in hiding to me out of fear and desperation. What the desired
effect beyond extending my experience of time is could be anything
but the one commodity I’ve turned my back on. Success and its
malcontents: theme of salient desire. Whatever spins in me
spins in place, accumulating culture or enlightenment or dust; series
of acclimations thrown out in obsolescence; blurred out identities;
furnishings no longer fashionable in this town. It keeps spinning. We go
past the tanning salons where confidence is bred, left right right left,
past the frat houses of future elected officials, can’t stop here,
past the university chapels, places from which only smoke emerges,
past my origin’s antipode, a sign I can’t read, a surfeit of empty space.
I do my thinking from bed. Fringe hypotheticals evolve from here
into choruses that will entertain me throughout the day. Ground zero:
whole interior expanses laid waste and redestined, all before noon,
into the mustering of a single sentence, the making of a sandwich, or
if I am notably spry, the writing of a poem that will never crawl its way
off my hard drive. This is unhealthy. What spins in me does not spin.
My goal is to fall just beyond the gravity pool of utter failure, fistful
of poems certifiable by no one, collapsing into existence before I can
appropriate the distance from myself required to claim my check.
Meanwhile I ease in and out of reality, vaguely functional at best,
my very self a hypothetical not yet proven access to happiness.
Watched that fever dream wind down a gauntlet churning dignity.
Watched me turn away from an orbit, eternal gadfly of myself.
And as I tested reality, self-harm the only sure way to know,
it opened up before me a bruise folded under the nail of my thumb.