This here is now. I lean in, I walk the august rocks of passage, tremendous rendezvous of tightened inquests, I descend the staircases of rude basements, navigate between the rusted pipes of belief. And I seat myself down, forever down where it is always now, where a twinned nanosecond blows persistently through the cracks. And the slamming of the shutters never stops, nor the dust-infused air, nor the concussion of glass with cement that goes on pounding and smashing and never breaks.
About ten minutes goes by in the hunting frame. By the arrows rising from the grass I see the main stem. Flotilla of shadows. Then a cloud rolls over to reveal the sun. To be lifted at such an angle from the city’s rough ledges balances a lull in the discussion. I begin with a retraction. I begin the same way I have for the past who-knows-how-many years. I grab my beer off the sidewalk and take a swig. The need for type O blood is constant, broadcast over all available airwaves. Hold my breath as the liquid warms threading down. The engines turn slowly at first, their movements barely perceptible. But let me go back and explain: my sense of ‘the’ truth is ‘my’ own. For this reason I begin having become as it were.
Smoke from a cigarette left in an ashtray rolls and unwinds in slow motion. As quickly as the smoke overtakes the room the sheer silence is faster. Point of entrance for nerve fibers and cells to dissolve. This numbing pulse of loss is sensate and octagonal climbing along thin strands of nerve release to collect in the nuclei. A pale blue verging on gray petals through the room unmoored. The fresh damp aroma sparks recognition, palpable as earth. Ah sweet sweet sweet September. The warning and the reprimands; the smoke wavers in a thick column not settling for days until the rains come. You chase it to there: your grief darkens in flames of boxed conclusions. Where steam rises from the frame the long thoughts bubble. Durations of octaves grounded by middle C.
The next frame holds a pattern of circulars.
Into the irregular patterns of rectangles and squares I walk a cobblestone path to search for the Plaza of the Inquisition. The ground is uneven or falling rising slanted at various degrees. Torqued. Feel the tension rise from cement patches and the voices of others passing. “We live in trailer wipe. We live in ashen stage ashram noise.” The whispered solace of solitude joined to dead voices echoes. Never in negation was the thing more than. Lines of sunlight vibrate between buildings.
(Once late at night I saw white owls fly from one bell tower to the next to the next to the next. But this afternoon there are only groups of men and women inking old metal presses to spool out invitations or business cards, examples of which hang from the sides of their machines.) I am cheated of your tomorrow says the postered plea for mercy. “. . . wearing a red T-shirt, a large silver cross . . . has a raised mole above left eyebrow.”
Whenever we could we came there to delay the disappearing. She said if it wasn’t one thing it was two. Hedged all our bets to defray the tumble of torn edges from forming any kind of line. A beseechment to startle the revelers from their broken bits of talk and salutations. The revised revise, the risen rise. We mourn the dead. We speak of them fondly that we might occasion them. Them as yours as if your own. The borders I drew on that pane of glass propped against the windowframe were just an amusement. What I meant was that there could be more than one way to address an infiltration. It would be a tight squeeze to fit the location structure to the place point and without directions the best I could do was improvise. (To look inside the grief: the little waves and tendered manias.)
The constants are the flux and drone of car alarms when a bus rushes past. Music yells through big speakers into autumn rooms, which, lush as leaves swept into piles, star brittle textures anointing. Then the proteinacious drugs kick in. A muse of sucks. Brittle elements shift to tactics sometimes. Sometimes sleeping reasons are enemies. Who polishes their cross, their knife, its blade.
Trails and tangents are set and reset by footsteps wading through sagebrush and pine needles, leaves and clumps of hair. Girl with big feet nestles cornered in a camphor smell rising from a coat closet stuffed with notes. Fur drips slithering out from the cracks in arpeggios. The patter of tropical rain lingers while two strangers stop midstep in the street below to check their notes. Two sets of wet hands carefully unfold the papers. Clouds drift overhead uncertainly, clearing and boxing together to drift like smoke. Treetops appear blackened in the wet, slice through thick mist in waves. From here I see an open door weathered green in places, moss-hung drapings.
Strings that reverberate against a cherry wood backboard lend an air of solemnity to the occasion. Piano and slow. Controvoglia. That music could be tamed this way in trills or
to complete the narratives inside
was nourishment enough.
That what was expected would come to pass, that what could be hoped for would follow. The notes droned sinuous to deepen the paved distributions of the flattening tones. There was a restless fumbling around for keys that might have seemed human considering the divisions but the molting structures worked against it and the tuneful hollows assumed their positions.
An infinite approach to an infinitive will always begin with “I.” Then I could stand back and watch as the day folded into quadrants of multiples, assume my position at the head of the line.
I bound cords around papers trying to separate those that had been read from those that hadn’t. A slipknot seemed the logical approach. Heaving line, clove hitch. The stacked edges threaten to topple away from assembling.
If you study any part of a sequence too long the connections fall away and gravity seems to cease. The sky becomes a dense blue smudge drawn across the top of a window and hung there instead of glass. But if you turn around quickly and let the image fall into place by itself its attention to logic resumes as if no separation of belief had taken place. At the laundromat when the dryer won’t respond to the coindrop or button push: You’re there again it says. You’ve never been closer. That was what I strove for. Whirling helped to diagram the steps this dancer might take to lose the static equations.
Forget ink, butter, or warm things.
A sneeze in full air the goshen of,
and door slams shut that gravity pulls.
Inside are the clever tricks this day
bought for one final gain. To sponge
the materials begs another signal & share
in the latticework of a metal sheared
under the din of its music. Alone or not
the lah-di-dah hummed in yellow keys
and crowds call out the titles as they pass.
This one evidenced and that one
breaks apart. Red sweater at dusk. Wind
would laugh as bird is animate brushing only
at the tip. A small reminder of size
and frequency, weight and buzz. Endless
modifications make up the urge of throat
in gasp in dry approximations pencilling
classical complaints to it. Extreme
as a refuge of garishly painted houses
outside all means of survival means
what’s ugly survives without exclusions.
And even less to be unkind
The scrubbed appearance of certain evasions like
was but isn’t now and the ragged edges
consequent as being a margin fed out
from the hollow the rattled echo shouldering
more than weight and the next one
that next straggled choice whining
is no competition for initial shocks
blurred edge, faint outline of just what
creamy blend of sharpness and blue
that erotic something once was
this fucking this a century of
doubt and perspiration, premonition
okay but claims no experience
of prudence and less even to be unkind
reasons float like white lily pads
at the center, intussusception
I make a margin of my skin
to fit through an unobservable loophole
and disappear the masks Is that hate?
Slower than thought or vision you say
it’s where the light stands, a march of
sheerest colors ’til you reach the one
that opens Not the pale blue or grey
outline but softness like wood and tawny
almost old The glisten over fingers curled
cooking mint tea over gas flame near a door
Silk does that too or sequins in wind Jump
the rope black surge where details play you
for a spoon Now the shine bowls an oval
deposit almost mineral so succinct It’s not
what you think or how your feelings craft
what you see that someone’s voice
interrupts but the ambiguities come
inside and staking claims suffers nothing
to the known places that weaken
in plain sight our bedouin eyes.
Why not go inside I’m saying
What we were before this wind
and our sentences cut short
A life sentence to animate and people
with trees or boats and so many names
narrowed in to shifting shapes
but not arrowed down in transience
and so on and so forth
There’s enough space to be and let this
in and watch as space comes unexpected
and challenges, to be and let these things
wash over, dissolve
I go to truly enter the fluid
not concrete of these things that go
on moving barely in one place, palace
before the other things trespass
Tiger cat puddled between chair legs
knows this passage too,
how to get there is it costs
To be present and alive like breath
A line of permanence in perpetual dissolve
Can I have the obsessive details please. Always
the wind, another kind of monster. Cold floor
releases moisture and why not say it
calms the nerves to sit here. Now. Capital.
A better like than no stains of previous mixtures
makes a better sharp. The point of falling down
and finding windows. My sole to my soul a wry
idea with no conclusion. Fold the paper money.
The grain of that becoming, unlike artifice.
to be in the foreign body as a luxury
of clandestine presence so only in my
apparent absence which is hidden but
shifted from the always there to
sometimes comes, sometimes stays,
sometimes goes alone to the beach
to walk inside the tidal atmosphere
and thick air, blowing sand & seagulls,
attributes of a resting place gaze, gazelles,
and let the words drift or sift as worlds
I’m coming into in a slow repose
to hear the sounds caught in their
throats as birds as language as bent
between the spaces I can imagine
if I keep my mouth closed & just listen
Poet and collagist/object maker Laurie Price is the author of Except for Memory (Pantograph Press), Under the Sign of the House (Detour/readme), The Assets (Situations), and Minim (Faux Press). Her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals over the years and from different locations. She lives and works in Granada, Spain. See more here, here, here, here, here, and here.