Today's poem is by Richard Jackson
Point of View
While his memories pace back and forth like expectant
Fathers, he tries on the loneliness like a loose-fitting shirt.
Somewhere in the room there is the ticking of a palmetto bug.
It reminds him of the planes on the way to Kosovo,
The fading crackle of wireless ground-to-air talk.
He'd like to take an eraser to that life, leaving
Just a few ghosted lines separating one nothing
From another nothing. Outside his window there is a
Darkness except for one balcony where a woman is sitting.
The smoke from her cigarette disappears into the stories
Reflected in the windows above her. She is probably reading
One of those romance novels where the characters speak
In the extinct language of a love she once knew.
Okay, let's drop the fiction. You know who you are.
Despite searching for yourself under stone, in trash bins,
Behind boarded doors of houses about to collapse.
The old loves pile up like skeleton sculptures in a Capuchin
monastery. What do they know about how we come back?
The things you want to say are as light as helium.
Now it's 12:14 A.M. In this world, two parallels meet,
The circle never closes. Maybe you have cried out
In your sleep. It's so hot the leaves are burning off
The trees. By Fall we'll be able to see right through
The forest into the future. By then you'll know this is
about me. The palmetto bug is just keeping time.
What's at stake here is how we define ourselves.
You are me when you are not you. I am you
When I am not me. The branch above us wonders if
It is time to fall. Our lives line the post office
And supermarket walls like runaway children.
Sometimes we just want to appear in our own mirrors.
I've double-locked the doors. It's so hot the blackout
Won't end for a few more days. In Lebanon
The light spreads out like shards of a mortar
Round. One family trying to escape is hit by
A random bomb. This is really about us, isn't it?
Are bombs random? These lines? Who was it
That I began with? As a kind of defense? There's a barge
Stuck where the river changed course. Day and night
Take turns trying to escape our field of vision.
Hope spreads its tentacles but we know better.
When I started, this was supposed to be about love.
But look, we can't even control what we think about
The moon, the train's distant whistle which is sad
Or promising, the existence of centaurs, peacekeepers,
Runaways, skeletons. I can't stick to one subject
For more than a line. In no time at all I will find
A real self. I don't know how many bugs have come in
Through this open window, a kind of lung these lives
Pass in and out of. You, me, him, I understand, I do,
Your hesitation. The branch, too, is about to fall. You,
It, have no idea how much of me this love has become.
Copyright © 2009 Richard Jackson All rights reserved
from Crab Orchard Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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