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Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson is the author of The Pitch (Alice James Books, 2006). He lives in New York City.

By This Poet


A fillip. A fandango.

The police set about their work so tenderly! Like dolls built to simulate laughter. 
Like bells, they watch the space between themselves, not us. Its milky white. 

Their whos and wherefores have been smudged for our enchantment.  Once-upon-
their-bodies steamed good and stiff right into those ruffled blackcoats. 

And that’s how we like them, flushed, immobile to our bootless haste,
to the loose cargo drifting by—
                               calliope of tin and cash dashing asphalt.

We like each pistol’s toy piano ping, how it signals adjustments to temperature,
alters by degrees our own satisfactions, pin by pin,

a sound to rejoice in, as the police rejoice, without moving your lips or eyelids. 
The held sigh of a nebula, swelling. How we envy 

the buckles that clasp back at them. Their radios, looser, lean into the white air—
thumbed postcoitally, mindful, yet distracted. Their leather straps have been 
lathered and scraped and are lathered again by fog’s fur-based intelligence, 

that we wrap about our shoulders, that a splatter of ice-mud clings to. Their laces 
are latched 

to thread-holes as they themselves are latched to this morning, bent, raffiné with
frost. Imagine, their bodies a drum collecting us like steady beads in a dream!
And us as fervent, our flesh pink with flaps. 

Crowds Surround Us

agile founderings and piecemeal flotations.
The crowd constitutes a gravitational field

that slaps back at the ground, numbed
and maddened by ground’s constant suckling.

The crowd embodies a depression in fabric
more than an attraction. Its angled, arteried, fleet


fantasias of need sway in
a loopy, bobbing dance without strings.

It’s this sense of movement the organism uses
to believe in its own existence, the palpable presence


of an intangible parade, uncertain
planetary marches, a supernumerary of stars.

In its mania for artifice the crowd has sewn the sky
with these shiny extras. Embodied

adoration, they snap the organism shut
before tickling it open again

with reedy gestures. Breathe.
The crowd’s louche body

clings and parts in place, an ovation
rigid and adrift, alive. It is the sea

that sweeps the sea.
Broom tight with inner bickering.

A mortal scour. Meaning,
how the crowd hates the crowd.

Outwardly. It admits you or me
as an enormous lidless eye admits glittering

beams. Endless watching, washing us in.
The crowd’s object, its point,

is always vanishing into its own mass. It is a sea
with no concern for us, even as it scores.

After Lighght

Look, I’ve already ruined it
or it’s ruined me.
The dawn I see by doesn’t need me
like I need it
and any extra letters it brings.

What we call mountains
is a deep violet strip
narrowly rising and falling over the green.
You might call them clouds
and be right

or hand me something crisp
call it money or flowers
and set it alight.