Sisyphus punches in, each morning,
At a mountain he must face all day,
In hell, for eternity, and at night,
Having not reached the summit
Again, he walks down slow, where
The rock rushed by, careful to see,
With new eyes, where it all went
Wrong, again, and then later,
At the bar in town, sits cooling his
Bleeding hands against a whiskey,
On the rocks, and maps new paths,
On a napkin, inside the wet ring
His tumbler made, again and again,
The routes running on to absurd
Lengths, hands shaking, and if it
Wasn’t a map, you might think
It was the history of history
Or parts of a nude in repose,
Patient with death and belonging.

More by Aaron Fagan

The Good Light

There were always such beautiful shadows in your work,
Though many now dodge their taxes with your art. Rarely
As it seems, life involves death with every decision, which is
Why I miss the non-Euclidean idiom we used to argue over
Everything in the dictionary of what not to do. Somewhere
In a mix between Beaches and Häxan I have these weird
Memories of you sleeping when there’s no way I was there
To see you sleeping—a crystal ball above your bed lets
Tensors, in a tension of tenses, tongue-tie time and divine
Your urge to fearlessly abandon yourself to love as you
Understand love, where paradox gives way to paradox
And awareness is congratulated with awareness of how
This multiverse, in vast tribulation, ushers us on in unison
As one of many big bangs begins again to light the way.

Related Poems

I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins

The alpha You. The omega You.
My grandmother’s ghost, its girlish snafu
Basking in the waters of urgency.

But I want the coolness of snow.
I want pairs of hands that speak to me cleanly,
Sutras to resuscitate what reigns

Over warped celluloid and heirlooms I can’t touch.
There are no family photographs.
Once I was ordinary.

I rattled around with arms, with legs,
With a damp remembering that served me well.
Then, a little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to rest.
I asked myself, don’t you just love it?
And then, why don’t you just love it?

And then, from what grace have I fallen?
Am I Sisyphus with his mute rock
Unsettling the topsoil, dissolved now

Into brandied battle shouts and pages that breathe like people?
There are hazards here, more so than before
The Furies struck and scarved the white night sifting

The bright waterlights blinking
And grieving over a mash of ice.
Like them, I wanted only to die, moon-dark, blessed,

Poised beneath the driest arrows of my suffering,
Far from the flocks of burning, singing gulls,
Face to face with the God of my childhood.