It cannot be said that he had lived:
such a term must resist
Association with unlucky harpstrings and lecherous feet,
Fifth and third harmonics forgotten somewhere
Between the dotted lines
Connecting what-could-have-been and that plane of gold
Violence. He wanted nothing more—or nothing less?—
Than a summary calculation of his misdemeanors. Could they
Be mixed into a shot of sawdust and Promethean disregard,
An alchemical decomposition of that night and all nights thence,
Unweave from his mind, that fast-pacing mind, the marcato
Of his reflection, stained with the guilt of glass
And the judgment of her cinnamonbrown laughter?
He carried underneath his pillow—always!—
The black cartridge of his dissolution. He lacked only
The constitution for a final performance.
The expectation of her scream found me
On the third of our two dates. She needed
No protection but the thin lights of a balcony
Overlooking a stream of metal boxes with metal wheels.
She said the noise helped her sleep, carried to unknown
Directions the conclusions of dreams she did not commit.
I believed her false jokes—
They were never mine to judge. What right
Of arbitration did I possess
Within the curls of my cigarette breath?
She left as she had come: with an exclamation
And an unwashed silhouette inside the corners of our house.
She had a mouth constructed for laughter:
Upper dais slightly oblong, ill-fitting
Curve to sister’d step. And what of the black
Nestled within? Barbs stolen from the rose bush—
Edge’s wit mustn’t meld
Amongst company so colored.
She had a mouth constructed for laughter, and perhaps
It had done so once.
But the years had made it small;
She wore now a smile arranged
Only in self-contempt.
The real thing she sold
In the marketplace outside a dream.
Some elements of the prose loosely lifted from previous work.
Hold steadfast First feeling;
Allow not second-rate puppeteer
Capture, once more, the cannonball
Crack of her laughter, in yellow twinkle-toed
Like that jacket you lost, and the mango sorbet
Still stuck beneath her tongue.
Do you remember Last night
In the foreign field of our home,
Where sylvan stars gave birth,
Again and again?
A theater of billions
For a tragedy of two.