It was cold,
and the wind was piled high
with bad memories,
and walking was hard,
as if the street was a wound in my feet.
And to forget,
I crossed over
to the other side of the road,
where a cat flashed
like a fallen lamp,
and the swift clouds
grazed the sky until I was raw,
and I couldn’t remember dates or years.
I walked on a street
where nobody knew me,
and not even the night
held a candle,
and the lamp posts
no longer recalled your name,
and the stars were like the clarity
of a life wiped clean.
Some people can see the path laid out, smooth,
paved with marble lobbies and licorice sex.
Even better if someone has already laid it out for them.
Me, sometimes I only see streets
with well-manicured flowerbed roundabouts,
and those same self-satisfied birds that wait at the verge
for the man with the fabulous toupee to come,
throw them scraps of stale bread.
I’ve heard that there are radiant highways
that lead away from the sea,
that immense end to all our conversations.
Turn your back on it, go up,
up toward the smiling towers, the places with lawns
where there are no more thought terrorists,
where corn on the cob aprons smother impotent fear,
where there’s a pill for every night-intruder.
I’ve heard that in those places nothing can blow your mind.
If that’s the case, I’ll take the next exit south, back to the beach.
There, the foam is taking pains,
is deconstructing parades of plastic animals,
and paring flawless wives to their bones.
There, the sea, with a single thunder of salt,
carries off the porcelain and the closets and the perfected hedges,
and I watch them all sailing by in pools with grey-green kelp
and bright little crabs that think of nothing at all.
And I feel calm and collected,
and I know where all the roads eventually lead.
I do not know how the others can take it.
Every day, the sky that pretends to return,
the awful houses that hurl deathly flowers to the pavement,
the things that outlive us,
the poles and the wires that were already here long before us,
that glower on every street corner
like grandfathers disapproving of our fashion.
I do not know how they put up with
smiles on girls, dynasties of red lipstick sinking beneath parking lots,
rusted trolleys silently leading tramps
down dingy lanes that want only to die from an assault of lice,
the brains of rats that go off like grenades in fashionable cafes,
and of course the birds,
the pigeons that reek of ammonia, watching us,
while we pretend not to notice an offspring of dust
that collects behind our genitals and ruins our best laid plans.
We, who pretend to know equations of infinity,
perfect roses, poems of love and heroic laughter.
But the heart of the matter is this:
we live in the worn-out grooves that dead tycoons,
hideous philanthropists, and insects of lust once left for us.
There are dogs that play on a wreckage of beach
with a new owner every day.
There are couples that follow each other off the same old piers,
into the same green sea, that is neither sad nor alive,
and a sky that returns and returns and returns.
I do not know how the others tolerate
these corners piled with assassinated leaves.