The language has us by the throat,
Scorched utensils in a grid. Trained
Tracks, right of way, light
Of day. Enraged bodies whistle by
Cold soot, skipping space entirely.

Letters are so dense it’s convenient
To stop listening. Religious
Seduction scenarios replace
The melancholy human voice,
Its perfected products, trick photos.

Say I say sky, say the city
Of San Francisco sits beneath that.
Have you ever seen a school fence?
A sun set? Fields of speech
The anatomizing phonemes bark at.

A machine shop? In the light
Of the correct time, steel beams
Lift a low stone fog. Tires sing
On freeways that guard the views
From distressed housing.

Convinced condensed devices are at home
In our words. Not to be confused
With us or use. Remove
The caressed blossom, the rug’s still
Brand new, a vacuum.

“Trainee” from Ten to One: Selected Poems © 1999 by Bob Perelman. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used with permission.