My Life in Politics

Incapable of limiting themselves to petty
offenses, my hands broke into my chest and choked
every slumbering deity.
                                After that I no longer cared
to argue about the nature of the flesh. Whether powered by vitalist or
mechanical forces, the spirits had in either case evaporated
as easily as life from the nostrils of a drowned man.

                     Oddly, I did begin to care about numbers, but only in exchangeable forms.
“Bread,” I heard a man say once
           and it made me a depressive materialist, not
unlike a Franciscan without a dove. I collected frozen peas, greeting each one
like a lost friend, then dispersing them in green streams to the hungry mouths
in the surrounding counties.

                     At home I have an old painting to comfort me, a fine example
of Impressionism from the Eastern bloc circa 1981. In the subtle oranges
singeing the trees one sees the foreshadowing of martial law.

                     As a child sat in my Western living room and watched
                     the Molotov cocktails fly behind the Iron Drape. Back then no one thought
to explain to me how walls against the flight of capital might end in flames,
how on TV I was witnessing soldiers clip the wings of the very same paper birds
                                                                             that here flew all around me.

A Fold of Sun

We decided I
should go alone
on foot. I   
would find
him in
the pharmacy. If      
he said ‘In
the head of
God all propositions     
have existed     
always,’ we would make     
the exchange.
He was standing     
in front of the      
calamine lotion.
He spoke to the
air. I slipped   
the envelope into

his pocket and    
bought a topical      
analgesic to

avoid suspicion.       
When I left, I            
had a face     

again, could open
an account, drink          
coffee in the

sun. On the street two     
women talked      
of money. I paid them

no mind. I     
could now always       
walk with my light

to the front.  

For the Republic

The way I’m strapped into myself
I can’t escape. Wake up and be a better person! Clip your toenails,
and by sun-rise make sure
                        you’re sitting at the table reading Arendt.

With a little focus
I could become
everything I ever wished
to be: level-headed and
            a real (wo)man of conviction. But no, at night,
I’m like an old towel on the line, tossing and
turning in the wind of the dear leader’s
words. What does
                                      it matter, if I grind
                         my teeth for the old ladies of
                         Puerto Rico? Or take a knee
                         in the front yard every time I hear
                         the national anthem
                         in my head? The neighbor just thinks
                         I’m weeding and waves.

Of Liberation

You arrive in a sentence
where you would like
to stay, but you are told

to move on to another,
so you do and wish only
this time to keep to imaginary

places. You are not
given Zanzibar or Timbuktu
but Paducah were two

soldiers compare figures on
a motel balcony. You
note the exits and a sign

announcing no free breakfast.
One says, “You look good, man,”
to the other, who nods. Though

you had always understood
figures differently, you
respect their loyalty

to a cause impossible
to understand. “I've been
through two surgeries and

still smell as fresh as
a piano,” the admired one
says. The moon is quartered,

and the air is mild. You
sleep in a rented bed
overlooking asphalt. Through

the vents your German
professor repeats, "Ich komme
aus Dodge. Woher kommst Du?”

over and over until your
True Being separates
from a cough that will not

go away. The professor in
the morning seeks out your eye
as he slips out the door,

“To be in a sentence,”
he asserts, “is by
nature to be passing through."