Mist-blind, we listen to the lure of deep water. We throw our names into the sea and they come back glass. The commentator's caution loops in our heads: when the sun goes black, peer into the last sliver of light and lose all vision. We've forgotten the scent of juniper buried in eucalyptus, the mnemonic that renders our creed. As the hemisphere of onlookers fix their instruments on the sun, the false night falls over everything. Like sleep that comes over me in the sun spot of the easy chair. Like the drink that spills gently from my hand.
The librarian revived me in the magazine stacks and drove me home, the moon deep-set in her eyes. I was looking for the well that whispers back through the gnawed bones of silence, the cold ink dragged across endless pages. Now all the water is rising. From the apartment window, stuttering lights grow dim as spires denounce the sky. We hear kids in the lobby who are mostly thieves tell jokes about us. And voices on the upper floors like wind raking fields of rotted corn. Each of the speakers is dear to us. With flasks and fake teeth, they misstate the years. We bear their correspondence up the dark stairwell. Like climbing a mountain inside the body of a sleeping blue whale.
It's raining in the superior colliculus. In runnels. And it's raining outside. Among the canasta packs and souls of murdered buffaloes, the bumper stickers are arranged in no meaningful order. A retro save the whales placard lingers in a window too. Geese beyond chimenea on the rain tarp's crumpled wing: so many ways to describe them with exactitude and reverence, how they barely stir the air as evening bears its gentle dialogue to another feckless ear. It renders extraordinary fatigue to breathe in the shadow of my country. Where common knowledge is aghast at this poem conceived on a subway upon the hunched back of a friend from Montreal. In a shawl frayed by fidgeting hands, a girl wanders down the street, sharp as reverie or the sparkle of wet leaves she moves under. She is the dream of a deepening fever. Until the rains melt down the mannequins of flame that conceived her.
East Bay Sketches
There are stains on my door in the shape of large, inelegant hands. They pray away atrocity as a rose on the blouse of my nurse imprints on the mind. I was a genius for chronicling crimes that never occurred. My dissonance unyielding in the presence of pie charts and statistics. No youth. I slept in the slum temples of capitalism and never awoke.
Spit over loudspeakers. Like shrapnel. Smoke in the tenements. A thousand people on the bridge. Broken helmets beneath the turrets, homemade flags and pompadours. I eat the tension with a bruised plum beneath elegant trees threaded with lines of black ants. We starve but barely comprehend. Go figure on motorcycles or heroin. Or get lost in bars.
The sky is mute for long stretches of time. Then flowers move. Broken windows feed sunlight to the back rooms. Evidence hides in the document repository where fading ink resembles our names. The broken ledge from where the partygoers fell now nestled with mold. And the webs of beautiful spiders in the soft push of the tire dust breeze.
Gary Sloboda lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recent work can be found in such places as Gargoyle, Posit and Thrush. He is working on a book of prose poems tentatively entitled "Tremor Philosophy" or "Anomalous Flavor."