The Fateful Line

how do you ever know

how to demarcate the fateful line

where strength turns to spite?

it is that place in you where all meets all

the center ring of conflict

bedecked with pomp, bunting, color, and the tug of the rope;

you feel it gliding down your skin

ribbing its elasticity like the inside of a whale,

blubber and skin hauntingly enmeshed

breathing in and out of itself at once

stretching and contracting in a counter poised traction.

So how much of yourself are you willing to give up?

How much is on loan to the universe of people

upon in which you survive like some unending galaxy of gas,

ancient light escaping through agencies of refraction,

tiny mirrors and the spies of shade?

You might tussle about for a while finding

your way down a wooden hallway late in the evening,

the picture frames announcing their presences in glare,

like the apparition of a life that eventually fills up a home, haunting it

not in the interest of fear or drought

but more benign, as invited guests who’s comfort

you always put before your own.

this is the fateful line wending itself upon you,

through you like pin pricks through a map of all time.

dotted, matrixed, spooling in and out of a wide angle lens

that ultimately feels familiar.

the story book you opened for a distraction…

you see it in all its forms but only after

you’ve imagined it for yourself dozens of times

speculating how new universes are generated,

what sorts of settings it might have,

this area more temperate, this more arid,

here is a desert where nothing grows,

and yet things grow nonetheless,

having learned to make the most of the one or at most two moments when a spring or rain shower might for a moment resurrect all the death and forgetfulness.

You breathe a vacant prayer but never pray.

You visit with priests but often don’t stay long.

You message old friends but rarely hear back.

The communication has been stifled for some time

wires long since crossed, buried interminably like a hulking clunk of underwater cable in the frightening depths of sea.

Looking back, thinking back

unsure how reliable your memories are

Was I truthful then? Was I honest and forthright?

Am I that now, finally? The work continues unabated,

with barely a moment to yourself for such reflections,

the unceasing movement that you previously elected,

an alliance with something you read and thought you understood

but now, as you trace the lines back to their source you are suddenly, obviously maybe not in control of,

at least not any longer.

Did I learn that lesson or was it taught to me another way,

in a different classroom, under censorious administrators?

You were so sure of yourself because at the time it was what you needed.

How can you question that now, from such a distance as today carries with it?

Revisions are the most finicky of undertakings.

Gazing back through the millennia of futures,

faces act as the accessories of such trivial detection

wary of memories joining together to lobby against you.

The compassion of the self on constant war footing,

established at the gates, you sulk,

exhaling plumes of suspicion,

and eye the road cautiously.

The lines gallop outwards cavorting

with asymmetric partners, aggressive philosophies of color and line,

angle and shade, hue, tone, gradient, shape, paneling,

the pattern tiptoeing down the hallway, nightlights

glimmering just loudly enough for you to pick up on the wheezing

battery inside, spinning the house like a toy,

axis reaching deep into the ground like a screwdriver of a drill,

grounding it, transmitting it in gravity to the air around it.

Flight paths arc across continents secured by wine and string,

while you conceive the possibility of travel.

How many uncomfortable seats will you place yourself into,

playing musical chairs with versions of your past that you resist

opening up about?

Some secrets won’t ever be shared

but instead serve as the proof of you for future diggers,

sanding out the rhythms of this life

according to the general nature of theirs, contouring theories

to fit their unimagined narrative.

Instead you end up on balance.

Each step another test of your cadence

your gait feeding back proprioceptive data on the body

where today’s pain will manifest after hours of walking,

talking, being so entirely alone with yourself

even in the company of others.

We took the dogs to a mountain and let them run free.

They weren’t into it.

But once on the trail, I anyway disappeared,

careering around a sudden switchback,

making each step a recursive bounce

that would redound back on itself and propel the next,

hopping mercilessly from rock to rock, the balanced footprint,

arched and balanced.

Following me across ridge lines, spectral lines of frost

wrinkle face of the mountain

the wrinkles, scars, signs of stress, dehydration pouring forth

the first moment of sweat, the warming that eventually arrives

in the diamond radiations of summer light.

Due to the clever placement of an unexpected mirror

you come to terms with your face,

turning your motivations into cemented doubt.

Are these my sacrifices? Did I select them?

Was I fully aware of what was happening at the time,

understand the modifications to the loan i was assigning myself to, all selves, future and past versions stuck together in a glue?

How can I pay these interminable fees associated with the award?

The future scenario never came to pass and honestly probably won’t ever.

You get to a point, a mark in the spectrum, clearly delineated,

when you simply finally stop expecting it to happen.

And that is the moment of consolation

when you come into possession of the book of yourself,

the final bodily position before sleep gracefully comes on

with the deadening lid, the chapters resting interminably on your chest,

the pages flickering into your dreams

the smell of the leaf infiltrating the all too brief

moments of wake

that are the exclamation points of sleep.

The couch may have more room to spare

but it requires one to get more creative

the arrangement of pillows and so forth.

For the first time in forever you don’t care where you sleep

or even if you do, you get to a sense of age and longevity when

you stop chasing the perfect night’s sleep,

the right froth of the beer for the occasion at hand

finally a dinner when you order what you want and not what your friends have.

Food is always better off another’s plate.

Another inane aphorism collected in dust on a pile on a shelf,

collecting memories of you not doing a damn thing with them.

Those books glower at you, glaring their judgements as if to say,

why buy when you had no intention of investigating what we had to offer.

My father read much of the night, but never went south in winter, though his parents did,

realizing so much later than should be expected that he was teaching me without teaching me

led by action.

The life you want to live is in books he seemed to be saying.

I cannot teach you in the way that I know you need

but I can teach you to find your own answers

your own peace, the beating breath that will take you from book to book,

cavern of words to shelter of letters.

Why did it take me so long to possess myself?

The awning was coppery and green

the parapet a hulking reminder of architectures

you never know until you ascended them.

You didn’t know home until you left it standing in the dust.

A glimpse from a cab, peering down into the corner of the window

slouching under the slippery plastic seat covering

trying to capture those old familiar bricks, the pre-war manifestation,

of innocence,

What does it mean to be prewar? Have we ever been without war

seemingly tagging us no matter the continent or justification its just the same old war.

Brutalism, fatalism, nihilism made human and content.

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