WISTFUL MELANCHOLY, UNFOCUSED HELL
Wistful melancholy, unfocused hell. When
you get here, this hour upon you, this station
of ruinous freedom you longed for and attained,
extreme evanescence without the body for restraint,
nebular without any stars to show for it,
long past the beginning and too far to finish,
nothing to give up and even less to hang on to.
Everything you cherished and probably still do
enough to hurt you, keep suckering you back
into life as if you were being taught to walk
all over again by reaching out a few steps
further and further and further for what you want,
leaves you feeling undernourished, knowing
there’s no food for it you can eat with the same relish
you once tore at the flesh of an apricot
like the moon low on the horizon with your teeth.
The savage act of a mysterious, elusive life
that couldn’t be trivialized by an explanation
of its vital signs pulsing underground
as it lost interest in singing the dead up
from the grave when grief, even elegantly articulated,
fruitively matured into understanding how
it demeaned them by believing they weren’t
happy where they were, a windfall at the roots of it all.
Life shrugs. Things fall off your shoulder
like an avalanche of chips and bluebirds, angels
and demons who always had the better argument,
rank, identity, the world, a snowflake, the hair
of a woman you once loved so passionately
even then, when the dragon’s roar was fire,
you knew it would end with you feeling this way
one night like the long shadow of a bliss
that wouldn’t be bliss if it were to last
more like a watershed than a shotglass.
Still fall. Black walnuts rotting on the sidewalks
like bubbles of soot. The monarchs don’t sip
from the milkweed pods anymore, and that
stubborn little flower, chicory, just won’t give up,
however many times they bush hog the highway.
Stems detached from their leaves like
the slender bones of birds all over the sidewalk
as if they were talking to each other in an alphabet
no one’s deciphered yet. Violet asters against
the burning wings of Magian sumac when
the fire-god comes looking for fire in a shrine
devoted to its ashes. The autumn’s a sad furnace.
And me? Maybe it’s because my hair’s turned white
and the crow’s no longer dyed by shadows of moonlight,
I feel like a landscape smothered under the white noise
of wet snow. Not quite death but as close as you can go.