by Mark Parsons
What senile tired bitter old woman
is going to reel you up, out of whatever you’re listening through a surface
you imagine like bait in the water
and quilt you into a geometric pattern she’s spread out on her lap?
Somewhere beyond this
you believe it’s dark,
there is darkness,
and you are here
at the predawn center of the darkness,
where all the light is non-direct behind panoramic urban skyline.
The space you’re in
and you see its surface
2. Travelers Dream About The Peasants
I wake up, see my wife.
She’s sanding her elbow
at the opposite end of our berth.
Dreamily she announces to nobody in particular,
“I have a carbuncle,”
and sighs like the hydraulic brakes on a semi.
Every day we wake up in a different carriage.
We’re like a blossom on a branch.
we’re like an amber bar of soap.
She crumples the sandpaper oval.
Before she scuffs away
I hear her say “jacquard.”
A zebu mounted on a hill
in the distance, the electric razor
buzzing like an angry insect.
Our compartment spins out,
but the train hasn’t moved.
3. The Holding Tank
Sitting hunched in the kitchen chair,
wet braid of straw-colored hair dense as lamp wick
on your delicate collarbone.
Don’t ask me who you are.
If you want to know, ask yourself
what you were doing there.
You forgot what to do, when what
was the case was the case,
unfit to make contact
you came to
where we were certain to find you.
Not letting you dry off or even change your clothes,
that are wet,
I start with the questions.
This hall, the door,
the bed, and bed side table, chair and chest of drawers,
the physical dimensions of the room:
you can’t help but know there’s a reason why
this place makes you feel small.
That reason has been here. That reason is out there.
The Figurehead Has A Separate Itinerary
Carved in a cavernous crescent of frontispiece
the recessed wall
curves around and scallops overhead,
empty save for shadow no one walking past can see in
to see my white
flared pants and wife beater
stained with grass, dried manure
after spending the night in the pasture
beyond the wall surrounding the city.
Alcoves filled with statues reeled away,
too numerous to count
as I dashed across a deserted court in the languid time that’s adrenalin,
stretched taut like a mote beneath a convex lens.
A sea breeze was blowing,
I left my coat of pilot cloth on board.
The captain at his sewing frame,
evenweave cut from bolt
embroidered with the compass and the square,
a different Sanskrit character for every member of the crew—
will he tear out the same mysterious letter
an able seaman and the chief mate tattooed on my back?
From other cavities pale faces gaze
not like saints
from round and open visages,
nor like leaders of men, from beneath high foreheads
and projecting brows,
but in horror
at some distant thing
that corresponds to viscera inside
stone figures that echo dreadful secret knowledge
it’s useless to deny.
Wind blusters, blows seaward.
My windbreaker flapping,
I’m colder than I think I am.