Now that I am idle, idle conversation is prayer. I look for love in hiding: even the unspoken I fill with the wish for love like the grey cheese we smear on cracks. Someone needs to spackle my mind before the walls fall out. Already the horsehair in the plaster shows, the waning laths. O tiny nails o brads do you not gleam for free? Doesn’t sunlight accommodate you in shadow? We measure with the human: head of a nail, foot of a bed. I stop listening to words except as music. All is forgiven even me last in line. The clouds serve up thunder and lightning: I better close the shutters before rain drives in. I’ll go back to relinquishing every opening to you dear listener. I’ll let the storm speak for me in bursts. I am only—at best—an interruption.
Poetry is griefs, not grievances. —Robert Frost
I don’t try to make things. I don’t make anything. It makes me I want to say. But it doesn’t say. It sleeps when I’m awake. It wakens when I sleep. It whispers when I speak. It walks when I run. It has no lips and I see a face with no lips. It has no eyes and I see a face with no eyes. Just this way it demonstrates itself like a motor humming with no car. Just this way it mourns itself into life—into words I can’t help write down.
The Final Examination
While the other students furiously scratched their blue books I watched time slow to the pause of the second hand on the plastic school clock. I waited for a minute to jump on board the black dot my hands folded neatly in a secular prayer my bare knees pressed against the cold metal under-lip of the school desk that garage of sorrow. The exam was in math the love of my life. I loved the parabola of bird feathers the random odds of dandelions. I slid down a frictionless hypotenuse. A bell tinkled the proctor cupped it in his palm like a silver bird. The fountain pens stopped scratching at once.
Rodger Kamenetz’s most recent book is Yonder (Lavender Ink). Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre will bring out Dream Logic in spring 2020 in its bilingual poetry series TO.