No rest with the precarious nerve of night
through which the fine vibrations of loss pulse
in low frequency, diffuse electric directives culled
among broken manzanita branches, the refusals and refuse
of slight lifetimes spent amidst insensible constellations
in cinder block neighborhoods full of twisted white blankets,
vanishing points, vacancies, spaces where hands drop off of brows
and rise again to dimly comb through the indolent black currents
where humid night hides itself in the narcosis of the heart’s host
in a scarred old town near a river that still whittles away
the sandstone mantle of a salvation that some claim
crystallized under great pressure before we came
January is a communal myth of improvement undercut by the fine print of personal resolutions. And in this city of heavy boots and mittens drying fireside, any operation in distant sands seems to run smoothly compared to the severe complications of domestic demands. Just mark the affront of those shrapnel-edged snow banks outside of the bay window as predatory birds force their lurid limericks on the townsfolk tied with Odysseus to the mast of a television tower. Just count out the hours of aching dedication to the mission of distraction, the blue haze of crystal vases with wax flowers held in the embassies of waiting rooms where scarves choke the oak coat tree in the name of theology. Just imagine in it all the astounded ghosts of fashion’s ten-thousand abandoned jackets singing marching songs in this terrible territory, unaware of the seductive siren red dialogue of the cop drama in the living room that caused the whole town to look askance at the purpose of their shovels and decide that burial is nearly the same as clearing their pavement. Just know that through it all the winter hardens its clutch and there’s no room for improvement but though the goddess of a Caribbean cruise’s luxury and that this is the moment, deep in the sludge of rutted streets that we call psychology, where heroics from the armchair must break a leg on stage to prove that life at home can get dicey, especially when those suitors come calling for the bride that remains an ageless Penelope. January is a journey to betterment that remains tethered to the tatters of the preceding year’s stories of hardships. But by February the townsfolk will make a quilt of this travesty and feel guiltless as they disguise their lies in designer sheep’s wool and revise their desires with patriotic pedigrees that will fool the Cyclops of self long enough to lead to his demise, at least in theory.
A geriatric aristocrat in a tan Cadillac nods
off and crashes into an unmanned cab idling
next to a petunia bed that borders a beauty
parlor full of magazines and heedless heads.
The despondent cabbie scoops a few petals
from the tilled dirt and pockets them as fare
as his last hubcap spins into a faux fur purse
that might serve as a wig, planter, or hearse.
This final choice of course requires great care.