MEASURING WINTER /i

  1. I am losing things. My ducks are not in a row; they have gone rogue at twilight while I was watching mindless TV instead of the world news, unable to bear today’s tragedies.

 

  1. I am losing my ideas and such. They wander off the rail, into the embankment of last night’s deadly car crash, off the grid. I’m looking for them in the dumpster behind my favorite restaurant I can no longer afford, in the swamp behind your house with my industrial-sized flashlight, but the batteries are dying, and I’m not sure how many flickers of light are left.

 

  1. I lost the velvet emerald dress for the holiday party this weekend that I bought matching shoes for, the long coat that would be warm enough for the cold weather predicted. I’m stuck in the labyrinth of my own making again; on my hands and knees, reaching for the words that fall endlessly through the gaps of synapses, memory.

 

  1. My failures with syntax glare at the periphery of day shifting, winding down without me, perpendicular lines, or beautiful symmetry.

 

  1. Do the math, I tell myself, enumerate the missing and dead with stick figures in the cave of the self. Measure winter appropriately with the rusted ruler, the distance from— [your disappearing House, all the lies I told].

 

  1. The river between our delipidated houses is overflowing now the December night has gone oddly warm, and the blue snow beneath the streetlights melts. A Siberian land of ice chunks, floes; the cracking ice moans, an old woman who has lost her own visage in her broken compact mirror, echoes out above the evening traffic, hovering.

 

  1. We should walk together out of this melting ice land, holding hands until we reach the southern border, but we mustn’t speak of any of this.

 

  1. When you find the rust-orange leather glove and the moonstone earring I lost that day you kissed me languidly last week when the river was frozen, that day we knew our equation would not be a summation, but rather a subtraction, please package them in tissue and leave in my mailbox that the plow knocked down again three long days ago. You’ve become part of the negative space where I live huddled with blankets and an odd assortment of talismans to protect me from what is to come.

 

  1. I know you are pacing along the river on your side of things, flicking daylight through test tubes, picking apart the malfunctioning parts of the machine, pulling out your silver hair—all for the sake of some shabby catharsis, a fabricated antidote. You’re predictable that way; trying to pass the night with a steadying branch over the newest abyss.

 

  1. The clock seems stuck, but it has been wound and cooed to. It’s funny how some days stretch larger than one’s imagination can.

 

  1. The rooster windchime outside my bedroom window is clanging away the night even though the clock is slow to move, and all the devices seem frozen on 9:11 PM.

 

  1. When you finally find this, I’ll be gone again, back into the corner of our dark game, stitching my nefarious seeds into stone, your collar bone. You mustn’t panic or tell the others. None of them should know.
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MEASURING WINTER /d

  1. Waking to winter snow often requires every iota of energy; your favorite bathrobe on the door, a continent away.

 

  1. The Ghosts of the House gathered around you in your sleep last night, you’re quite sure, in communal whisper, hushing it was all going to be okay from the ceiling. Heat rises and they, too, without flesh around attenuated bones, are cold.

 

  1. The House has gone very cold overnight; a hundred gallons of heating oil was not delivered yesterday, as scheduled. Call when the office opens; light the fire with the latest stack of discarded drafts for the two hours before you need to alight in the metal-box chariot for the day job.

 

  1. Stalk with your stronger eye the rising winter light above the pines when you take the dog out after your first cup of coffee. Note the iridescent glistening at the edges of branches from yesterday’s new snow and the forecast for rain. If you don’t don your hooded winter coat, an umbrella in order.

 

  1. Write a note to stop at the post office for Christmas stamps for the cards you are definitely going to send out this year and mail the two parcels of books to Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

 

  1. A hot shower with the bathroom door closed will loosen the stiffness in your neck, back, and knees from sleep. If you open the drawer to the vanity next to the door, the cat will not intrude successfully, dispersing the steam.

 

  1. Don’t obsess about the medical test results in yesterday’s mail atop the kitchen counter where you left it for future worry. Press delay.

 

  1. Driving on the roads winding through the proliferating snow-laced trees, lean into the road and don’t panic about the eighteen-wheeler to your right amidst the relentless rain; take heed of what the Ghosts proclaimed. Pray the rain doesn’t wash away all the snow from last week, so there may be a white Christmas in Connecticut.

 

  1. Remind yourself that it is, as the calendar indicated before you left the House, Friday, and nothing will change that. Friday the 13th, but you don’t believe that the Gemini full moon will impact that number. It’s just a human construct, the dates, the time, to make it all manageable, compartmentalize infinity, no?

 

  1. The blank canvas of the weekend looms out the dashboard window, out into the skies blanketed with clouds of milk that has turned gray, past its date of recommended purchase.

 

  1. Visit the pawn shop tomorrow to see if the small cello for sixty dollars has been sold.

 

  1. Don’t miss exit 8 on the highway like you did yesterday. Pay attention; it all goes on without _____. [you].
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MEASURING WINTER /f

  1. The looming white winter landscape—blurred by dream. The fog is still with us.

 

  1. Thirty-six hours of rain have washed away six inches of snow; now water dripping from the gutters that weren’t cleaned yet of fallen, pale brown autumn leaves. You worry about potential ice build-up in the Arctic days to come and jot down a reminder on the chartreuse post-it notes to text the family landscape guy, who has become an odd friend.

 

  1. The pines, colossal sentinels against the obscured sky, lack any discernible symmetry; their hawk, invisible, cawing into Tuesday.

 

  1. Buddha, in the blue light, motionless; still up to his chest in snow in what is left of the winter garden: truncated rose of Sharon and butterfly bushes that preened fuchsia, lavender, and dusty pink origamied petals just six weeks ago; the errant sweet pea at a standstill high up your privacy wall.

 

  1. Four pieces of mail: two bills, a credit card application that you won’t qualify for, and an advertisement for solar panels on the house you somehow afford; no Christmas cards yet.

 

  1. The white plastic bird bath [the ceramic salmon-colored one that cracked last year, finally thrown away] held down by a stone removed years ago from the sea you didn’t manage to visit the past two summers. Sigh.

 

  1. You find the tape measure in the broken drawer of the chest in the garage and measure the distance on the wall map to New Zealand’s White Island where yesterday a volcano erupted in a tourist location—6 confirmed dead, 8 missing and presumed dead, over 30 hurt. 17.5 wooden inches; 8,750 miles; according to a later Google search, 8,783. You’ll measure again tomorrow in morning’s light through the garage windows.

 

  1. Death causes you to remember the news anchorwoman who delivered the local news on Friday during supper like she did for 33 years and didn’t wake up on Saturday.

 

  1. The new fleece-lined slippers are still magical and warm; you’ve properly refrained from wearing them to walk the dog across the street to the empty lot where he likes to go after meals. A pat on the back in order, a hot chocolate with a heaping fist of baby marshmallows; tiny faces afloat in the froth.

 

  1. Side B begins [the day job over] on the couch under the picture window that frames the still-dense fog just as the towering streetlights flick on. No YouTube, just rain.

 

  1. Dinner can be fetched from the freezer [or maybe New England Clam Chowder from a can since there is milk in the house] and eaten at the counter like a horse; no one has to know you live this way—the floors without sweeping; the scattered rugs collecting particles you don’t usually notice; dust bunnies, and more dust; last month’s mail, too many notebooks to count though you’re tempted.

 

  1. Then the dream from the morning fills you again—lost inside the moon, a cocoon of milkweed-silk-sadness wrapped in light; looking for your father, the one who sent you there.
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MEASURING WINTER /c

  1. Take the last train before quick nightfall out of the city you love, where someone you’d been trying to remember all day once loved you.

 

  1. Secure a window seat [and one not going backwards], so the frozen lights of towns from there to here, to where? to home can find you—huddled by the Christmas gifts, nodding off, remembering all the lovely strings of words the beloved gave you too many lifetimes ago.

 

  1. When the train conductor rouses you for your ticket, smile wanly through your tears; he’ll assume someone has died, smile wanly back, and hurry along onto the next passenger. There are paper napkins crumpled in the Dunkin Donuts’ bag from earlier to dry your face.

 

  1. Cautiously, count the twenty-two steps over the ice the clusters of gray salt didn’t melt on the driveway that needs to be repaved come spring. But that’s five long months away; no need to wince at the now-diminished checking account.

 

  1. Make a note to ask someone to assist you with installing an automatic light atop the garage door before you fall and break your neck. [You know you won’t think of it, otherwise.]

 

  1. Put the cold metal yardstick that the last snowstorm towered over back into the garage for the next Nor’easter to share the plentiful snowbanks on Facebook. People in warm climates, you know, dream of snow.

 

  1. Though exhausted, dispense the pills for the week into their cheerful, little apple green compartments and leave next to the refrigerator. Yes, Monday, so soon. You mustn’t forget to get gas for the car in the morning because too-little gas in the tank can freeze.

 

  1. Let the dog find your hand in bed and soothe him when he dreams of his other life before you; the life of his ripped left ear and muffled barks in his agitated sleep. You should have washed the bedding, but next week will be just fine.

 

  1. As promised, refrain from “X”-ing out days on the last month of the calendar in the kitchen while the water boils for coffee; use the thick teal marker to inscribe in each box that has passed, a wave, to be connected across the weeks.

 

  1. When you arrive home from work, plug in the eight strings of tiny blue star-lights [masterfully connected to just two electrical outlets] on the Christmas tree, tune the smaller of the two cellos with the pitch whistle, and perfect “Ode to Joy,” finally.

 

  1. Let the split pea soup simmer longer, so the tiny bits of carrots are soft before you bring four servings across the street to the woman who no longer knows your name, though she will recognize you.

 

  1. Be confident, the vertigo will lessen in the coming days [when the wavelength of the week finds the right margin]. Hold yourself upright and very still. Hours later when sleep still won’t take you, count the satin blackbirds in the skeletons of trees, three thousand of them in an ancient Persian text, backwards.
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iterations of summer /24 [september]

/24

Spiritual hunger has ebbed//

satiated, in dub[i]o[us] fact—

that desire to have things||

feed the null set ¥ stuff

new abysses with light, possibly color•

<< impossible

burnt sienna~~inside a company>>

an ongoing

conversation with

the universe.

 

It’s not like it was anymore~~ and thus,

never shall be ¥ >> merely another

super|imposition•.

 

varnished doors keep breeding

more doors, tunnels, and bridges

through nights of

crushed oleaginous velvet. My

forest owl continues

writing its poem; the once-homeless poet*

dog smiles. Wet peat-moss

ground has shifted our

common ground; bending

forever—the

roads with their

attendant anxieties. Imagination

knows what might

go wrong—or right, one

reminds the

self hopelessly lost

in shuffle–

 

The final days of sum*

mer eluded. There was no

music, just rain. The gar*

den ran wild toward

the sun.

 

Autumn began her

delicate footfall—stepping

in

with a slight chill;

condensation on

car windows. One

must clean the ga*

rage, make

room for kaleido*

scopic after*

maths of objects and

their objections

to memory.

 

This year, I swear

on my father’s grave–I shall

clean the gut[ters] aft[er]

the old red

maple gives up

her wither-crunched

tan [l]eaves–I will

answer when you

call [me].

 

Until then, you can

find me on the

rotting picnic bench

of my childhood

[adorned with soft,

emerald moss]—

 

singing atonal arias

to the discombobulated

Ghosts of the House—about

the cold, rusted p[or]ch s*wings

of the encroaching

long winter–

 

[ab]out longing

to be [a

better] human.

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/21 [from] iterations of summer [september]

/21

 

The holiday memo was email-bombed COB Friday to all

involved parties with some supervisors bcc-ed in, but none of

 

the workers fucking cared. Driving for too many days leaning into

the serpentine roads with cars following much too closely toward

 

a town that no longer existed, I texted you—asking to tape our worries //

splintered prayer boards to stones you should fasten to the hidden

 

river on the ancient map. . . but the cell towers were cluttered

with the aftermath

of another DOUBLE set {double bubble*gum*

style mass-produced} of

 

MASS {please note the irony} SHOOTINGS–

on the same fucking day—conducted with the skill of a

 

virtuoso European conductor HIGH on street-grade

CRACK. Yes, it’s true

 

I was flying high on polyphonous frequencies—

talking much too fast//frenetically—before the

 

inevitable underpass—collecting

torrential rains—a bi*product of

 

the catastrophic hurricane—for which the tourists weren’t smart

enough to evacuate. {When one pays for a desperately-

 

needed vacation on credit with 22% interest, the best

decisions aren’t always made.}

 

I was looking for the extra toothbrush for the

adolescent whose father might

 

IMPLODE again—because of the newly // non*binary

{gender*fluid} sexuality // self-

 

asserted {finally}; nomenclature

{warrior name}—to clean

 

out//urge//expunge aforementioned

COBWEBS—in our collective un-

 

conscious—when you caught me off

guard—with your

 

frantic//––// EVERYTHING*IS*

CRISIS* phone call.

 

Please forgive my NECES*SIT*AT*ED //

self-imposed quietude—

 

in the morning-garden light–

of this six o’clock hour.

 

There are some things I need to

 

get off my chest—in P=R=I=V=

A=T=E—while I scavenger-hunt

 

the missing clues—to share with

you later on your facebook timeline.

 

Adjust your privacy settings accor*ding*ly—

 

{{I’ll miss some of you.}}

 

to catch another

tidal wave*tsunami at the nu-

 

clear plant—trying to move

 

the frayed toothbrush through

the diaphanous cob*webs—

 

one leg in night-dream; O=N=E

foot

lost

i{n}

w{in}ter.

 

When we me*et, you

m{us}t

tell

me

Everything.

 

At the makeshi{f}t alt{ar},

the WEEP*IN*G

 

will{ows}

{w}ill es{sent}*i*ally sur-

 

render. . . .

 

three t{hous}an/d birds

{sh!}all

a*light.

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/23 [from] iterations of summer [september]

/23

 

The words were very hungry and, in turn, made the people who heard them hungry.

 

Some of the captivated audience would go for celebratory pizza and beer and talk utter bullshit;

 

others flew home in metal-boxes to their estranged spouses, disappointed children, mammoth TVs—

 

cyber blue light in the retinas too many hours of quotidian escape burned even in their half-dreams

 

 

[or, maybe] the pages of the Book would locate and drown them;

 

sentences dangling them over the edge-plateau Abyss. There were

 

metaphysical moments a few in the crowd wanted to talk about,

 

but the words ran right off the page—like a watercolor

 

on an incline leaving spider threads / maps. The dilapidated, lopsided mask-

 

constructions might banish the evil spirits back to their proverbial, macabre forests—

 

but We can no longer see the trees; stuck in being [pronouns].

 

 

A sign on the door signals the baby is, at last, sleeping.

 

The writing on the wall promised the war in someone else’s country would still be going on;

 

too many splintering teams, foreign interest / disinterest, complications of vested interests,

 

threats of terrorism / social media [de-]propaganda, [no breathtaking leadership]—

 

 

but what, in essence, should a concerned citizen do—make a phone call, send an email,

 

text the netherworld; tell them to come fetch some of the complicit / colluded crew?

 

 

Time should be carefully allotted before it accrues, fools you.

 

 

It’s silly to remove the lower pillars of the shifting construction,

 

but the heavy-metal soundtrack, replete with a chorus of electric guitars and five mammoth drum sets

 

made it all seem somewhat, temporarily bearable—

 

before the crumble-shuffle cumulative shock effects; how dizzying!

 

 

You really should un-knot the plush, golden rope for the disaffected cat; tired, she lounges

 

in the tall September grass; late lavender heather, Russian sage, burnt clover—

 

all the neighbors of the disenfranchised global neighborhood [almost everyone]–

 

hanging on by a spider’s thread. Saturday’s fifth gear will dissipate

 

exponentially by Monday, sigh.

 

 

It’s all esoteric philosophy [subjective sentences built out of private nomenclature] anyway, isn’t it?]

 

 

The cicadas will be even earlier tonight than the earlier earlier duskfall sky paintings, muted by cloud layers,

 

giving the illusion that all the pain is softer;  light traveling farther away to be closer to

 

someone / something else.

 

 

Objects, adjectives, prepositions, and complicated ideas [the brain’s strange pictures edited by someone who went temporarily psychotic with the scissors and tape]

 

will be defined by what they are not.

 

July is not January; money is not water.

 

Not everything can be counted; not everything can be lost.

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from vi. entropy–iPhone mobius strip [hybrid]

 

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THE MUSIC OF LOSS

I lost the night, the skeleton key to my grandmother’s china cabinet, my shadow at the airfield when the military planes loomed overhead, the turquoise scarf my mother brought me back from Ireland last May, my resolve.

The notebook with all the passwords, the memo from my boss about tomorrow’s emergency meeting, the apricot dinner-plate dahlia tubers I dug up last autumn, my right to stay silent.

I lost my bearings out of the forest at twilight, my focus on the last star before cloud blankets settled in, the ability to stay composed during the police interrogation, my favorite photograph, my posture.

The sienna leather gloves you bought me, my father’s father’s chest of WWII medals, the note on the refrigerator to remind me of _______________ , my trust in the government, my belief in the media, my sleeping bag (the one with the broken zipper anyway).

I forgot the way to the secret cove at the shore, the obsidian rock covered in sea plankton. Where the spear fisherman, cherry-picking the taug taugs that taste like the lobster and crab they eat, scraped up his back on the rocks during high tide—and disappeared.

I lost the crystal earrings from Czechoslovakia, the large amber pendant (with insects stuck inside forever) brought to me from the open market in Krakow. The eyeglasses needed for driving at night, the valerian root that helps me sleep but often causes me to hover above my body, instead. The GPS that was left in the car before the crash, the TV remote on which the seven and nine do not click in, my social security card.

I misplaced the address to the place that was supposed to help me. The spare key to the shed where I didn’t mean to bury my best qualities, the lamp bequeathed by my favorite aunt, my convictions, my definitions of love and enchantment.

I lost my ability to do math. The ability to work in a cubicle of ticking clocks and unhappy workers talking to their estranged spouses at their tiny desks during lunch, consuming processed meat.

Gone, too—my favorite book bag, my mother’s first suitcase for nursing school with her maiden-name initials, my fear of heights, my self-consciousness, the newest set of paintbrushes, my ability to sleep so much.

Finally, I lost all my excuses for not trying harder to transform syllables into transformative music—a salve of some sort, to soothe the others.

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MOURNING

written after Henry Jopek [my father] passed away on March 31, 2015

Shed the black cloths of mourning for white lilies, gladiolas, tulips, hyacinth.

A private grieving finally alone in the House. Thank God. Birds sleeping in the rain

in barren trees of tiniest buds will eventually sprout magnolia and pear blossoms,

ladders of cathedral bells. No more PANIC of not being able to BREATHE properly.

The lungs washed clean by rain. The cloths of being unimaginable

it has been said so much // so little–just rain awash and human weeping

for the lost waiting rooms–for the man who shrank

into a fracture of star.

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