We lost because you were kept from singing.
Because correlation must be causation
If I am to live, to keep believing
That a win matters. That the kingdom
Will be nigh. The falling grace of your neck,
The secret turn of your lips behind a veil of hair
is the stuff of song. The note that breaks
The sky into stars, the death of the word in an air
Slowly melting to a solid state. Because I
Must war against the invisible. The real
Is a ghost that the eye cannot abide.
That must be broken, rebuilt, a dark castle
Forged as you sing. Now, I can rest though we lost
I will dream of my kingdom, of towers of song.
A desert, though flat and broken, endlessly broken,
still consumes the eye until the mind sinks
into sand. And though, it is only transient,
you can slip away, transcend.
Here, there is only the promise of a fall.
Everything looms perpendicular. The right angle,
the keen edge, the eye cuts itself on all
it sees. The ear must shred its signals
from this primordial din, to still believe
in the possibility of song. Lips carved
in a rictus leer, I let myself be deceived
that this is all there is, that there is only the sprawl
of stories repeating endlessly like a mad program
we cannot break. And though, I do not know my part
I know I cannot fulfill it. I await
the promise of deliverance, to be one with the desert.
The shadow of doubt never leaves you. It settles
like a mugger. Eyes in wait. The gentle
passing of your days are now nothing. You shuffle
yourself from moment to moment. Stress a little,
never a lot. It’s bad for your heart, you remember.
You pull yourself from your morning tea to a quiet supper.
You pray. You tell yourself your prayers
anchor you to the sky. Something lurks
throughout your day. Spreadsheets form like falling walls.
You catch yourself thinking of the shapes of skulls
around you. Terror beckons, but you must keep calm.
You smile as you were taught. You long for home.
It is when you think you are certain.
It is when you think it is done.
The floor turns to swamp. The walls, fractured trees.
It grips you by the ankle, a scare of slashing teeth
You fall through the endless water. It chews its patient
way up your spine. You struggle. You fail. It rends
the silent prayers that made you. You are broken: a stream
of floating debris. You turn to the waiting sky. Scream.
In darkness, every room is a tomb, open
like the pages of an old notebook. Their scent,
as stale as memory. Every night is a half-life
a ticking countdown, what dreams may come, then light
like a mushroom cloud at the edge of the horizon
The streets are littered with walking corpses, called out by the dead sun.
Nothing bursts into flame. The world persists.
I sip my tea. I call out to things, “You exist!”
There is no echo. I wonder what my voice
would sound like if I wasn’t there to throw it.
I am told there is a background hum
to our universe. A cry that never ended. A drum
struck once, a hollow boom, before noise
overtook it. My days are spent in silence.
I don’t need this window to recount the lies
I’ve told myself. There is no denouement
no clash of cymbals from the beginning of time
I have waited. I am waiting. Beloved, if you’re real, please stay away.
They left no monsters to guard me. You’re not needed. I’m safe.
He has that smile, the benign yet certain kind
that you only see on those who’ve never
had to watch things grow. Oh, he’s sure
of himself, of the change he bears
like a hidden treasure in the folds
of his skin, of the star-eyed oaths
he swears, of the steel-slick cold
much-practiced gaze he throws
from his stage, of the thunder
of loudspeakers hosanna-ing
his name, of himself as the future
that must be, of his golden reign.
I don’t know a lot about a lot of things
I do my work to earn my keep. I think
when I must as a luxury I’m allowed,
and I watch my days roll away: clouds
too distant from his thunder. Too
slow to keep up with the future, too
tired to read the hidden horrors
in terrible oaths. I can’t see much farther
than tomorrow, and I much prefer
the certainty of days gone past:
like an old remembered trail in a forest
of dead trees and silent bones.
Whatever happens, my years will pass on.
Tree after tree, my trail will unfold itself
and you with your smiles in this commercial
I think I’ll add you as a cracked skull
a thing half-remembered in my forest.
It was a place we were never meant to be.
I wish I could tell you I told you so,
but I remember walking with you down that road
to the bones of Ur, to the corpse of the city.
In the black of the night, there was no distance.
The eye saw no farther than the farthest dark.
Our torches caught the dust, the flaking bodies
of trucks, wheelbarrows no more red, the arc
of a crane arm, dead in its rising. What was it
crunched with each step (I wonder now)? What
air pushed us past (why do I remember its hiss?)?
What cursed moon chose that dark hour
to light what loomed before us. What towers those,
like silent time in rows; windows spaced like empty eyes
staring (always staring, ah, those eyes!) at us?
What voice was it that screamed (was it mine?)
What echoed forth (do you remember?). And, at each door
that fed the mouth of each nescient tower,
a single chair with a pile of tinder
and a nameplate. The first bore yours.
Some day, I will write of the dead
I will write them as they lie,
as they sprawl, as they bleed
as the light pins them to the ground
and the cameras flash
as a thing encountered between pauses
they will always be there
that’s what they do, they’re dead.
Between one word and another, dead
Between breakfast and that faint hunger
in the afternoon, dead
Between the yawn, the eye rubbing, the murmured
apology, the flopping on the bed, dead
Some day, I will wait with the dead
I will put up a sign
“DEATH AT WORK”
I will watch them
I will watch them
I will write in the space of their passing.
There is a dead bedbug wedged between the cover and first page of a copy of the Gormenghast novels that was given to me once by a distant friend in a nameless past. In its death, it left no trail of blood. I estimate its death as some time between yesterday morning and late afternoon today. I imagine it scampered over the empty sheets of my bed, scouring this vast continent of dirty blue for a scrap of flesh, a sip of nourishing blood. Out of the sheer despair that routinely grips such creatures when hunger gnaws the windows of their minds and their senses start blurring and narrowing into a strait thin corridor of light, it perhaps sought to climb the walls of this Gormenghast. Too often, we forget ourselves caught in the throes of a feeling we cannot shake away like a fraying thread on a sleeve or a drop of bird shit. We carry it with us, we let it carry us in a headlong burst into unknown territory. Borders are forgotten, turrets, guns, the blinding shine of search lamps, all is unseen. She with the red tongue, she with the white eyes, a finger points and pew pew pew. Bullet holes sprout mysteriously, leaking mushrooms in the hollows between our ribs. A shriek will power us to climb the hills, the mounds, the highways in our way. And so it was, perhaps, that this bedbug clambered on, its insect mind howling for blood, blood, blood. A stray wind turned a page, held it close. Now I wait for my nails to grow longer and the holes in my body to re-seal themselves back to wholeness. Though everything is a single lengthening strand of light between me and the door and they are knocking and knocking and the hinges, they tremble. As the page trembles, the bedbug, the bedbug. Here, dead one. Here is blood.
“Hey, hey, Mithaiwala, what’s up? How’s monitor-giri working out?”