When I sing to you I am alone these days
             and can't believe it, as if the stars

--while gazing up at them--just shut off.

I search out the one light, brightest light
             in the night sky, but find

I cannot find it without weaker lights to guide me
             like red tail-lights on a car up ahead

after midnight when I'm sleepy, that illustrate
             how the highway curves,

curving to a hook, and maybe save my life
             and it means nothing to me

because nothing has happened, not the faintest
             glint of drama.

(Raining gently, the tarmac turns slick, moistened
             to life with renewed residues;

I can sense it with my hands on the wheel,
             the drops--not too heavy--

drumming off-time rhythms on the metal roof,
             the metal surface like a skin tense and sweating

and the road empty now, there are so many
              exits . . .)

Where is my family, both hearth and constellated trail of flicker
             I have always followed to your word?

There, but mastered by fear of dark compulsions
             and loathing atrocities committed in your name,

they hit the dimmer switch and extinguish themselves
             whenever I sing your praises. . .

Who can blame them?
             (I can't help but blame them.)

And anyway they are far from me
             (farthest when they come to visit)--

I should be self-reliant, in my armchair
             like Emerson reading by a single lamp;

I should not need them, finding in you
             myself, little firebug needing no outlet,

my soft light blinking as I oxidize my aimless flight
             to love, to the good,

even my glowing chemistry unnecessary now
             in the ultimate light of day.

But what good would that do me?
             With you, in you, perhaps others do not matter,

but this isn't heaven, and I cannot make a circle
             all on my own--

Photon, luciferin, meteor: as I burn myself
             to pieces, I only pray

let my sparking tail remain a moment longer
             than our physics might allow,

some indication, however brief, that there continues
             (amen) a path to follow.

From The World's Room by Joshua Weiner. Copyright © 2000 by Joshua Weiner. Reprinted with permission by The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.