CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Let’s go then, you and me … 3 …
—this gauze collecting blood, the midday heat
still in the concrete, a tetchy spider stop-
motioning its way along a table—
in a direction to be named later, the this-
is-this-house-and-another mode of dream
just up ahead of us; the look, sound, smell, feel,
and taste of missing out on sense behind.
We’ll like it there: people live longer—
or maybe it just seems like that,
the light on the floor of a room at a time
of year not really remembered as such;
the oblivion of the new, theorization of which
is pointless and perverse, like mocking an animal,
as memory changes everything then cages it.
The blood that’s left in me might be its own shadow,
the kind that makes the ground look both soaked
and not there, but there’s no ground in me,
my every breath thus far a success, and if
I’m “subject” I’m just grateful to’ve been painted.
It’s okay going away under colors like these,
and you’ll want to say that those were dimmer times;
that what yesterday were our ears’ convolutions
sitting tight in minds no longer gaps nor ghosts
are today those minds’ rats, which is to say,
strangely, that to own one’s own gait or cadence
is like trying to get one’s own attention
from the other side of an upturned squad car;
that what we want from song is for song—
or for the note before a song’s first note—
to give us more than we could want from song;
that what we want from summer … 2 … is just
to pour some middling whiskey over hail.
We’re mirror-fed these sleep-bruised faces, our selves
craving, caving in, as though mouths or hands
had closed in our chests—we should know: we drank alone
and talked enough—and let me guess: something’s
ruined so we’re buying a new one, the paged life
of the sky above these neighborhoods’ Venn diagram
being all we’ve ever known of demand and supply?
Were we put here to know not coming back?
I’d say so, but maybe “held here” or “left here”
is far more to the point. Brief cloud cover, a pause
between chords, a shock that in retrospect
won’t register as such, but that at the time seems
blissfully mortifying, as when someone who reads
“Missed Connections” just for pleasure suddenly
finds himself summoned by a not-so-total stranger—
these are what we’d rather live for. And after
a sequence of frequent secret outbursts, when what we fear
the most, even after we’ve long grown bored of our fears,
gets gussied back up as progress conquering its opposite,
we’ll do our long division in the dirt with a stick
and think until we sleep until, still sleeping, we see
we’ve missed out on something forcedly historic—
several vintage stamps stuck to a circuit board, say,
or fascists not gagging on swigs of crushed glass.
The reverse of feeling like it—now we know
we had to seem like that then, but when this alley’s done
clutching the sun … 1 … we quit squinting and live.
Born in Tennessee and raised in Wisconsin, Graham Foust is the author of six books of poems, including To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems, a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award; and Time Down to Mind (both Flood Editions). With Samuel Frederick, he has also translated three books by the late German poet Ernst Meister, including Wallless Space (Wave Books). He works at the University of Denver.