Saturday, December 13, 2008

Speechless as Trains

Posted here because it's one of my favorite poems.-tb

In the drift of the words you are speaking,
wrapped in steam
that unfolds in vapors that vanish
in the cold snap of wind
that blows against
brick houses
that remain beautiful
despite neglect and graffiti,
a half-century of weather,
I am stunned,
speechless as trains.

I am drunk in love
with an idea of you
before we ever spoke words, that is,
committed biography
without being asked,
in a blur it seems
one of us was getting out of a car
in front of a marquee that advertised
a dead man's magic,
giving a panhandler a dollar
drawing up a collar on an oversized coat,
eyes locked into
the swirling twines of
train station steam
from an ideal century,
steel towers and smoke stacks are
rising to the nights' swallowed
promise of a glimpse from the roof of the
tallest building ,
feet moving under you,
but the steam dissipates, torn asunder by
wind and thunder,
I've memorized the lines of your hand,
these are lanes where eternity lives nameless
and absent in the Present Tense,

The same stores, the same houses,
the same neighbors coming and going .
pass me by,
cities are made
for finding dark places
as fingers trace the limits of seams,
the way the threads tear
at the stitches.

All this before
I heard you talk in that twang
and before I knew there was
an idea in your head, a buzz
of book learning that meets the world and negotiates
meanings with truths that have no resonance
except repetition and insanity.

I love those first moments
when it was all image,

The city’s posture bending
to compliment a style you forced even
canyons of tall buildings
and banners for gunboats bearing
dead sailors names
to give themselves away in a rapture of your eyes
lighting the streets and every room with grace
that would be uncanny,
for a minute I believe the city was built
on a hill nearest Gods' dispatching cloud.

But you spoke
instead, about the weather and movies,
my rapture was destroyed and shredded,
you became another pretty head full of brilliant thinking.

History is something you can wrestle with and win,
irony is a language you use with the ease of
turning the pages of a big dictionary,
the double click of the mouse,
subtlety is the Church you attend,
you make the streets that vanish
into perspectives to not disappear but
to continue somewhere over other hills,
in the middle of
a continent whose state capitals
you can name and spell on the Main roads.

You cannot transform my city
into the simple pleasure,
the world is just pure process, a
machinery that never stops,
your brain, my words,

Damn you, damn you,
it's gotten so a man cannot hide
even inside the lust he saves
when love won't follow the script
damn you,

Tonight there's only smart talk,
getting in touch
with my feelings,
framing statements
in generalities that leave room for the
world to resists even momentary certainty,

No escape for the wanna-be wicked,
no sleep without perspective,
the relevance of a sock drawer, pairs of socks,
speechless as trains in the yard
before the daily invention of light,
the day that comes again without knowing you

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