By John Deming
The problem, she said, I mean
the reason you have stress
is that you still think your life
matters. It’s adorable,
but plenty vain. The broad universe
will make some use of you
no matter what you do, I mean—
make you eternal like a plastic fork,
but also, like everyone else now,
tense as a chilled turnip, assimilated
to the moment, the depths of the sky,
maybe even the pin-tip marble of Mars.
Tonight the city brightens a low ceiling of clouds,
caves of dark sky beyond them, and sporadically,
the moon. A child is walked out of a brutal crime scene
and instructed to cover her own eyes.
Two regulars had wanted their scotches in hand by 4.
They didn’t get’m until four fuckin fifteen. The bartender
blames the MTA, but he’d been cutting it close.
An overstuffed moving box is taped shut at a jagged angle,
which is fine, it’s not going far. Low cover, they say,
getting by. It’s time we put you on statins,
the cardiologist says. There’s an Edison bulb buzzing
in Frankenstein’s lab. The guy’s shins are overrun
with psoriasis. He positions them in direct sunlight.
The dermatologist says this helps. An evening’s anxiety
gains currency, then gets drunk. After 25 years, the couple
has no children. Now they kiss each other on the cheek.
Some biker gives extra throttle when his light changes
and earns the intended effect—everyone in earshot shivers.
Flat Earther in Repose
Panic! Resolution. Each attempt flails a little more
as each new year forms a smaller percentage of the whole,
three fingers on each temple pressing hair and brain
before the day’s invincible slide into dread—
then you’re wiser, and you’re back, really back,
something has settled for a while. Weeks pass,
and the soundless whisper resumes, bright noon
pulling your shirt by the neck, and dust motes
have floated freely the whole time, revealed in a beam of—
you are alone and night has barely started, is watching.
Look into this until a great reprimand plies you with devotion,
the earth you’ve dragged slotted in one shelf of sand
so far beneath you it touches another sky, released
into sudden and brief gratitude that a thing buried so deep
reverses its roots, seeks the sun from a new angle, submits
until old, lingering love fuels the sticks of a lamplit shrub.