Today, in passing, I grew sick of the world
of author’s ideas. I crossed a street
and arrived into rubble. A sign on the fence
hawking to me construction as if
one could turn so soft-cheeked
to meet a burden of ripped-out paving,
could contact alone and without supplement
that loose, jellied eye dusted
jaggedly and the pebbled, pried-back shapes
mangled from the ground and seizing up, roused,
I grew sick of the world and wondered
about my aging father and what I should do
when his handkerchiefs are mine.
The history you will write of yourself will be a re-telling.
You will narrate your image into power. A position of.
On a mattress you even almost to yourself will appear to sleep royally.
These instructions are swiftly written. Around them vapors flit.
I shiver, continue:
guards at the door bound to protect but
heat and sweat they loosen. The march is nearing, torches
raised on power progress. It will come from one of your own.
On the guards the flickerflame paints a menace but it is cowardice,
fathomless, that braces the abused. The guards dispatched.
Blood pistoning. Eyes red as whitewater.
He will slide his knife through you and grow immediately timid.
In your bedclothes you will fall.
Do not become despised, hated, or stricken—and
Prince: hold your deep dark rose in your chest closed.
Of course we could see trouble coming: water glasses sliding off unmoving tables,
bees chaining their bodies, buzzing, circling everyone’s front yard.
Mike got up with a terrific white shock in otherwise jet-coal hair.
No one could stop shivering. What omens to be laid in the laps
of average accountants!
We thought we had evidence and cause for everything —
food poisoning (hallucinations), summer’s mild weather (hallucinations),
inadvertently potent pharmaceuticals (hallucinations) —
but things marched on for weeks at home and in the lunchroom:
fat Harvey dipping his spoon into tomato soup and bringing up soppy mouthfuls of ants,
Rebecca just shrugging when her cuckoo clock grew its thirteenth dripping head.
But what can we do? Now it’s a waiting game,
waiting for that silver-winged dragon of imminent catastrophe
to lunge down on our backs, gouge our still-quivering livers,
and wheel back toward the scarious sky.
Eric Higgins has poems appearing in Zone 3, 32 Poems, SUB-LIT, and the Greensboro Review. He is a doctoral student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where he was recently awarded the Inprint Verlaine Poetry Prize. He is an assistant poetry editor at Gulf Coast.