In The Attic At Dawn

August 27, 2010

This is where we live:
Rubbing exposed gaunt ribs on the floor
giving ourselves to cigarettes and drink
watching the tide roll away from us.

There is evil in the world and we can feel it,
I think, as I flick away a spider and
seethe in my worsted wool.
But what I know of evil is mostly
itchy wool and spiders.
And what I’ve seen of evil is mostly
negligence and weak stomachs.
Spinalectomies. Unbalanced idiots
in need of a mother or a father
or a shower, not a babysitter.

Elsewhere there are flames, death,
the dusty dead. Here there are
unlit candles, repressed memories,
boxes of nothing that nobody wants–
but whose loss rips holes in
young mouths.

And what a bare floor we are on.
So many lines, cracks and boards,
aging scuffed wood.
All this disappears in my thought
and rearranges in my hope.
Such functional garbage, such
virile decay.
It creaks and moans at my thought,
it fidgets and whispers in my hope.

What beautiful sounds!
Gasoline explodes. Ridges
in a rubber tube stick
to the ridges in the road
and the night purrs with slick confusion
and the morning gasps its first breath.

And nothing works and we are treated
to such beautiful sounds.
The city awakes as I end my day.
What a lullaby! The wheeze of old activity
returning to its grooves, like rain
in dry river-beds. Such cozy beds.
They rumble and shake the foundations
but fit like tongues and never seem to age or change.
How long has it been since I have heard these groans,
these shrill rhythmic cries at the dying of night?

Each day begins with a funeral–
a wake, really.
A celebration of our lost life
and the dispersal of what’s left:
our waste that is us. Our husks.
The body-shell returning whence it came.
Who would trade this for silence, for crickets?
I wallow in it like a dumb pig this morning.

And quite suddenly sleep comes on
like an unheeded chaperone.
But I want to stay, my child mumbles.
I can make it, she offers,
voice falling.
I have found a battle in this.
It is personal and exists in so few places
that few can find it to win.
But we fight,
more from confusion than valor.
What’s next, the battle hymn.
What now, the march.
Yes but no, the waltz.
And ah, but ah, yes–
sleep has found me.

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