Month: January 2020
I remember the day I got discharged from the army: it was late in May, I was on a train that carried me from a small provincial town back to Leningrad. The two seemingly endless years of service had ended and the future now seemed like one endless summer.
Notes on Seroconversion
Then & only then was it made clear: I was to be no different than the rest stepping out to toke menthols at the curb, standing tall & slack-jawed as we joked about our aging forms—this fresh stretch mark, that odd crash course—did you know there was more than one way to snake a drain? to sump a pump? to earn one’s crust?—eventually snuffing the butts to reenter the song & hall with an edged finesse, as seen in certain sub-sects of eels—the swarm of us, looking just as lithe & cosmopolitan beneath the stroboscopic lights; fueled by syrup & ice & salt on the rim & in these stolen seconds, when the self-loathing lowers its pitch, who wouldn’t be convinced they could exist: bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, not subject to bad trips or high rent or low T cell counts or tear gas or squalor— who wouldn’t be convinced, utterly convinced, to live might always feel
Because what isn’t
Fed back? A time and place
For everything, my mother said,
But everything is A time, a place,
If you know to trace.
I carry my own face
And my mother’s,
And my father’s
Graceless shape; Both are overlaid.
A boy, I tried to rail against
The sect of men Who pick up rage but fell
Among the ranks anyway.
A boy, I was made
Effective in a lowly way, a ditch
In which this country’s scat
When you’ve seen the image
Become word, the word
Become image again, “In the beginning” seems A useless trope.
Don’t speak to me of ends.
I’ve seen the legislated ditch
In which you’ve dropped
The dispossessed and young, hoping
We’d choke on our own
Mass. Why would you think that
Would last? Grown, we’ve come
Into our own, we’ve seen it all
Must be overthrown—
We, the people, the rank, the poor Muscled things
The ditch spits back.