Before the I that is I was the I that was,
in prototypical amneosis, on transfer paper,
words chiselled to bend straight the I
or bend crooked the I
or it’s more complicated than that;
phrases that begged only to scream
and it will appear, lemon in their infancy,
a first suckling sentence;
in the I that was not was that I that is,
also, ahead of all and behind it,
frost settling itself paragraphs,
fog clearing but traces itself chapters,
whose well-worn pages are the I that was
and the I that is and the I that will be
doomed to repeat it.
These are fingers and these are toes
and these are the planes on which they go,
a mobile object lesson: get as far as you can;
these are numbers and these are letters
and together they can you can if you want to;
eventually pick one or the other
or the other if you pick the other
or the powers of two if you pick the one;
every other finger
every other toe
For seven uneven years I saw the chip where it had bounced
and skidded into the corner; every time my toe slid into the groove
I’d recall the few inches I dared not cover,
sometimes cursing sometimes blessing sometimes
absent-mindedly doing the bare-metal calculations;
there still my concrete Jesus is the absence
of something, though those who walk on him now
do not stuff their prayers into the gap;
someone else owns it now: perhaps they
feel that fulcrum, now, where I was made whole.
Round the pole, round and round the pole
I swung under trellis and grape vines
until wine sprayed from between my toes;
a broken bottle in the grass:
oh who has done this wonderful thing!
the white coated soldier coolly took
a spear to my flesh;
I was dead to the world for three hours
till I woke again, and in the black art of it
I still don’t recognize myself.
The tangent is determined by measurement;
the instrument, however, is imprecise.
If the system is large enough, we can predict outcomes.
We are too small to notice, then,
and call it freedom.
First of many wounds or wound of many firsts
I am still not sure; shoeless in the orchard
you turned into a pillar: looking back
I call you Carthage or high blood pressure.
The law broke as I touched you,
inscrutable tablets crumbling on my lips:
Thou shalt not, but I did and the glory departed,
a crane tumbling headless to the ground.
Bless the Lord O my body & soul
and forget not all his benefits:
there will be no fillings in the new Jerusalem,
and no Powerpoint presentations;
there will be no budget requirements,
and no boards of review;
there will be no timeclocks
and no shiftwork;
there we be no acronyms
and no acrimony;
but O dear heaven
let there be dogs!
There and back again and there and back again
and there and back again again;
feet of clay mixed with iron and you have
worn them clean to the knuckle;
how many ridiculous hoops on fire before
I’d burn the whole thing down just to show you
who’s boss is whose boss?
Shifts in perspective and I felt each acutely
in the peppermint vomit over the side
of my porcelain Picasso,
in the frenzied stuttered hammering to keep
the charred timbers and holy sheet afloat;
the idol falls, the axe is laid at the root,
and I am stumping for a new vessel.
Before the we we are we were the we we were,
in starlit amneosis, encased in carbon;
now, when you are to me like oxygen to fire
to a city made of matchsticks
to a world of crumpled newspaper,
I can only admit to the movement that
brought me to this place;
soon enough, my love, soon enough,
but not soon enough.