Hitting the sidewalk running, literally,
the miraculous and the mundane colliding;
in that suddenness of pain and near-understanding
I nearly understand how it is to forget pain
and suddenly remember its fierce diction -
do I scream or cry or start an essay on pain?
No time for prophecies, post-mortems,
or pushing the smirking genie back into the bottle
face down on the sidewalk
invisible makeup artist making me up for stardom
more than a fish out of water
I'm like a horror-film actor looking for work
stranger calling 9-1-1, shriek of distress,
call for leading actors and supernumeraries
too late for a stand-in or a prayer for undoing:
clerk asking me for my hospital card,
emergency waiting-room patients annoyed at my triage queue-skipping,
stitches, painkillers, ointments to ease the scarring.
Quick glance at bathroom mirror
not that I'm good-looking
at best, I'm pleasantly ordinary
ageing without overt rancour
now I'm newly grotesque,
temporarily, I half pray,
rancorous at self, inverted reality.
If you experience any of the following:
frequent vomiting, persistent headache, neck stiffness,
convulsions, confusion, blurred vision, so on and so forth,
doctor as fast-talking poet gone mad,
return to the hospital lickety-split,
a smile of sorts, a few more symptoms tacked on,
the nurse will give you brochures on head injuries and care of stitches,
it could have been worse.
Yes, there could always be a worse misstep
a falling off the end of the Earth.
Remember the symptoms and don't be a stranger
another smile of sorts -
returning, I say, is a human instinct,
whether you find the location or not.
Walking back to the scene of the miraculous and the mundane
to view the scribbled blood signature
head down, wanting to spare the innocent and easily frightened
I hear a voice, look up:
What is important? a derelict declaims
from a sitting position at the side of the library,
your face looks like mine
we could be long-lost brothers
his imitation of an ironic laugh
more frightening than a threat.
I fell, kissed the sidewalk hard,
lopsided love affair,
fell running across the street to mail a new story.
Still, your face looks like mine:
forehead gash, bridge of the nose stitches, chin autographed,
pal, buddy, old friend.
What do you want?
I want a little change for coffee.
And what do you want?
Meaning, purpose, sense, I almost say -
nothing, nothing but to heal quickly, I do say,
and toss a coin at the seated look-alike.
You feel foolish and selfish and disoriented
like worrying over a paper cut during the Blitz.
Why that image, I quarrel with myself,
so many wars past and present to use?
Distance - closeness is pain, more pain than distance,
not that I'm into measuring pain and wars,
but I have a disciplined anguish, an unremarkable mortality,
and I'm newly grotesque.
Reading in a coffee shop
is an open invitation for the existential
to take firm r o o t
I am virtually there;
my person stuck between the lips
a n d zipper of the luggage I came with
while the belt tightened around
my neck continues on w/ unexcelled purpose.
I was in a dark box looking through
an exposed panel, a simulation
of a yellow room.
A single mattress and a few
scattered books seared the carpet.
The music plays from a far off
and distant speaker--
Capitulation of the evening.
For the following weeks
your presence is strictly pulmonary,
breathing against the wind
you see yourself in the glass pebbles
you compromise for penance,
Bound and claw toward brute
c e l e s t i a l force
like the traffic you've watched
flow beneath you;
an endless ocean of sound,
objects clicking at one another--
I must own the relapse.
The Laughing Phurba in the door frame,
cicatrix like elephant
cookies that have long since
faded to match my skin tone.
In this region of the contrary
every individual tree is planted.
The aesthetics of this life
have all been built by hand.