SINGLE CUT

Words have geographic homes
and here old favorites seem
ill at ease, fitting poorly into thoughts
that demand their presence.
I use them regardless, but we both
know that they will hide their shadings,
but in a world where words
are the last option, we both know
that I have no alternative
but to turn to them, to wheedle,
to cajole, and ultimately to submit
to whatever they will allow me.
After all, the alternative
his silence, and for a writer,
that is death by a single cut.

WITH PEN IN HAND

You never read
the ultimate autobiography
which doesn’t exist unless
you live in an Oulipian world.
You can write up to the moment
Of your death, and we would,
if begrudgingly, conceded
the last moments incompleteness,
but you cannot write a true
and complete autobiography
without falling into the recursive abyss
where everything that you say
is suddenly autological
and the reader collapses in
on himself, a literary blackhole.

FIRST TIME

It looks perfectly normal, the kind
of restaurant you would seek out
on a Friday night in a distant city.
The people look like those you know
or could know, those from home for instance.
She is not remarkable, blonde, older,
a slightly twisted smile, blue eyes,
but on meeting there is a sudden distance
as though this is not a normal world,
certainly not the world where
you first met a cousin, and you have
a nagging feeling, which grows during the meal
that one of you is an alien, an avatar
from some other world, parallel perhaps,
and this reality is anything but, although
the pennette is quite remarkable.
Would you meet your first true relative at age 62
you know that while blood may be thicker than water,
it also congeals just as easily.

ACT IV

He knew he should not have brought the gun. He hated guns,
they served no purpose in his world of words. He wanted to
look at it, to stare at it, really. He thought that if he did so
he might be better able to write about the senselessness
of the world in which he lived, a world he so very much wanted to
change. He had the gun. He knew what he had to do. He
shot a hole in the forehead of the picture of Anton Chekhov
that hung on the wall over his desk.

ONCE

There was a time not all that long ago,
he reminds me, when the event of an eclipse
was a certain sign the world was ending.
Prayers were offered in profusion, and
the event proceeded and passed, so faith
in prayer was restored, if not in astronomy.
Today eclipses are viewed as just other
celestial events, like meteor showers
and solar flares, something to see,
something to experience, but always
with the knowledge that tomorrow
will always be right around the corner.
But the eclipse of our freedoms
is something we have never seen,
and many now believe the world
is ending, but we should, he says,
realize that like the slow passage
of the earth across the face of the moon,
we will emerge into the light again
in due time, our prayers having been answered.

RE-ENTRY ALLOWED

He sits on the cushion
staring through hooded eyes
at the wall in front of him.
He expects exactly nothing to happen,
expects there to be no sound
within his mind, only what
happens without, expects that time
will cease for him, or
will at least cease to matter.
He is not disappointed.
The bell rings, he arises,
and walks back into the world
where everything happens,
there is only sound, and
he stares at his watch knowing
time has moved on in ways
he can never hope to fully grasp.

FIFTY-EIGHT MINUTES, MORE OR LESS

In a bit less
than an hour
a new exhibit
will open
empty space will
be occupied
with moving
bodies of artist
and viewer,
universes will form
a thousand children
will be born
an old man in
a distant city
will slip away
a contented look
pressed into
his face
world leaders
will ask why
and have
no answers,
but all of that
is not now,
but in a bit
less than
an hour.