I walked the three floors
of the local antique store
and imagined white plaques
adorning each room
—but unlike museums
I could touch the displays,
and could take a seat
at a beautiful walnut table—
I could wonder about the moment
its palm-stained patina 
went from simply dirty
to expensively antique—that
singular moment the thing
became slightly more
than a thing by simply
continuing to be
the very same thing—all its cracks
thick as the edge of a quarter—
all its smoothed over corners—
all its dark knots flourishing—
and I thought I could live
for awhile in this very
same body—and did, somehow,
and was loved, somehow,
into a third body, which totters
across the living room,
and whose knees I kiss
when he stumbles,
and the difference between
just now and not
is an aperture’s quick snap—
is breath-delicate—
it must have been Luck
—I see it—that saddled me,
the blind horse rising
and falling as the carnival
blared from the brass pipes,
as the carousel twirled
its crown of lights,
and one by one the bulbs 
went dark—and so it is,
this life—this goddamn
lucky life—the organ
sounding off the melody,
the platform winding down,
and the horses still bounding.

Related Poems

By Night with Torch and Spear

That fire at the mouth of the flare stack rising
     more than three-hundred feet above the refinery
contorts as it feeds on the invisible current
      of methane produced by the oil's distillation

process like a monster, the nonstop spasm of it
     lumbering upwards into the dark Newark
night like a sack made of orange parachute fabric
     an awkward number of gorillas get it on in.

I would worship it. The motion, the heat, the unapologetic
     knack of the element to yank the appliance
plug from its outlet, filling the big blue business-
     suite of my head with nothing but its own

wordlessness and light. Not now, not knowing
     what I can't unknow, but back on the grasslands
before we ever came to harness it I would bow
     down among the seething life of that primitive

interior and worship the fire taking one bright
     liberty after another. Done listening to fellow
passengers tweaking the fine points. Done rubbing
     the dead end of thinking like a spent torch

against the cave's painted walls to make it burn
     better. As the train slows down as the track
curves around the body of water the fire reflects in,
     it is a form of worship. What is it in me that

hasn't yet been killed with reason, habit, through
     long atrophy or copied so beyond its master
it parses like the last will and testament of a moth-
     eaten cardigan? It dumps its nice adrenaline

into my system nights I hear the crisp steps of deer
     on fallen leaves and stop or when looking up
beneath baroque snow or when I lean over the
     banister along the border of a strong waterfall. 

All good and well. But the endless hyperactive
     plumage exploding from this toxic aviary, this sun
of industry descended from the lightning strike,
     obscures its diabolism with a Vegas brightness

so that what there is to fear in it instead excites
     me up a biochemical peak from the far side of which
my own voice, grizzled with a wisdom unknown
     to me in waking life, reminds me of the conjuror

who grew distraught because he sensed the forces
     he had stirred up with his art would not be
mastered by it. It rattles tomorrow's paperwork
     where it hangs from the branches of the ancient

timber trees. It messes with my reception, whereas
     I do not wish my reception to be messed with.      
It tells me to be careful with my worship—that if this,
     too, is a resource, then they have ways to tap it.