Night School

Off hours
I inhabit a roll top desk
& read in waves to let the voices war
dead names ignited with a pilot
the brightest ones  
are stars of the same order
hard looks that fall apart on entrance
I can never see their faces
but the music stays there
a wheezing organ
& my last debt to high society
public crypts that greet you with a smirk
one diamond one heart
the perfect setting for a silent movie
I feel caught by the hours dragging
& bluff it out with a few notions of my own
the smell of tuberoses 
starving for a shoulder
just enough all these sheets & ruffles
there aren't many sonnets like that anymore
precise arrangement, contrasts & relief
a fugitive appreciation
learning to hold one's own
you practice for years & make a pact on instinct
to surrender it all
entire constellations accomplished in nuance
then notice another typo
the consignment of the keys
the last monument to this living hand.

Copyright © 2011 by Micah Ballard. Reprinted from Waifs and Strays with the permission of City Lights Publishers.