The Clean Shirt of It: Selected Poems
Death waits in the insignificance of a plum tart.
In the remote darkness of the fridge,
it slumbers lightly, immersed in custard.
The hour is sluggish. The house sleeps unabridged.
All night something click-clicks—a beetle?
The pineapple reigns over the figs,
smelling exquisite, shedding thistles.
The moon clocks out and is gone.
The bricks are black just the same, and still.
The fridge rumbles, but the hour hasn’t come.
If there were a cat, he’d be some sort of gray.
Death takes its time. Day lingers on.
All the failures of an existence,
when meticulously compiled,
and given a certain coherence,
resemble a sort of pyramid—
maybe—when seen from a distance
at the precise moment the fading
sun reaches it, forming an angle
whose exact degree is obtained
based on the . . . but no, it’s more sphinx
than pyramid, yes, on second thought—
I’d say rather a stylized sphinx,
barely suggested, as suited to
a monument, or cenotaph, to nothingness.
Between word and thing
a leap over nothing.
Around the word
the myriad layers of dreams.
An onion. An atom.
A ravenous onion.
Between one layer and another
The layers leap over the void,
take the hollows by force.
from pinnacle to pinnacle, intrepid,
tremulous, odd, fanciful,
Their leap is a dance,
their insistence an anguish.
Around the onion the air
is fraught with trepidation.
Our arrival is gradual, discreet,
but we’re certain, as certain
as six and seven make thirteen.
The hour doubles itself, heightens
as we drive past, ever smug
and rounding up silences.
We’re severe, as complete
as six and two make zero.
We don’t have promises or feet.
When we come, it is for always.
We arrive fully stocked.
Don’t talk. Don’t be. Don’t try it.