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At the moment of death,
the soul steps onto an ornate rug
and rises into the sky, seated, placid,
seeking the setting sun.
If you follow one you will find others,
gathering like dull-eyed geese.
"Did you see them pass?" I ask the people on the streets below
but they shake their heads and smile.
Somewhere in the black forest,
a young woman sits at a rocket's console
crying as she adjusts dials and reads meters,
knowing what will come.
The great grey tube rises and turns
(her flourescent overlight exploding, shattering)
and turns faster and tilts toward the treeline
In a forgotten Russian town
there is a school with a bathroom
where there is a row of stalls
and a row of sinks
and a row of mirrors
and the paint is flaking from the walls
in this windowless room,
the most private for miles, but in the summer
you can hear the birds
hopping through the eaves.
the watermelon leads us into temptation
two roads diverged like the halves of a watermelon
one likely to contain lions, and one to contain seeds
plant the seed, grow the tiger.
the big cats will always be in the books
printed on watermelon paper,
oh dem watermelons
in perpetuum like a nervous tick
hiding in the watermelon patch
in hopes that a lion or tiger will pass
for if they can do it, so can we.
The bakery is beautiful in the morning,
a dirty hospital for the waking.
I ask for bagels in a brown paper bag.
The island is foggy in the afternoon,
a mountain whose forest is the sea.
I stand at the screen door and inhale.
The railroad tracks say nothing,
suggestive and lonely on a cloudy day.
I throw a pebble and a tree sharply reports.
The sand is warm under a blue sky,
a single figure walking the shoreline.
What is that he's carrying?
The boat is old but intact,
churning and buzzing and sloshing.
I step out onto the rocks.
The streetlights buzz while they warm,
creaking and brightening.
I walk between the pines, into darkness.
Ƴ. the Winding Road through the Stand of Trees
it's cool out here, where there is no pavement.
the fallen leaves move like mice
and for a moment i think i am
waiting to meet you, years ago,
when my mind was still clear and free.
i became old standing at the screen door.
the walls of your house are a danger,
at best a fraud, keeping the stars
and the planets from you. that little orange
one there is mars, and saturn is that
low one, by the trees. no, the dimmer one.
i waited for you so long at the summit,
my Diamond, in this cold country.
a fire grew in my belly, at first to keep warm,
but i confess i lost patience,
fueling it with your absence
until it poured out of me
onto the freshly fallen snow.
it ran down the road in a great spiral slow
and billowing clouds, into town like a white sandstorm
it blew through doorways and washed cars into the ditch,
settling like a flood across the storefronts, with no survivors.
i retched, still reeling and nauseous and cold
before i wiped myself off, gathered up my limbs,
aching like exploded Siberian pines, and began walking
down to the rivers to soak and heal and drown.
▒. Ye Machyne
The machine was driven by steam
and contained many gears
etched with symbols on every tooth,
and it ground for years,
counting rabbinically, clicking crustaceously,
groaning and rusting.
We used to bring our coffee beans and pass
them through the blur of gears,
and ask anyone, the stuff tasted
like it had been scraped from the keys
of a thousand frustrated typewriters
and soaked in tiger urine and whale fat.
It was distilled sex. It was literary.