Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Category: Sanity/Insanity

On the Steps Ahead

1.

Tchaikovsky, like this other side
of lostness, is incomplete again.
I lean into violin on the train

To hear it absolutely. I want
to make purpose of, complete,
ugliness. My era. I see beauty

if I crane my neck enough
somewhere back there in the rain.
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, I know

is behind the mis-colored sky.
I hear it pushing subway cars.
Spilling out as umbrellas open.

2.

I have been living under skyline.
In the negative space. The only place
For pieces of you, Tchaikovsky,

a leaf caught on the raincoated
concrete step. The life we have yet
To live. In windows, wall-less

if I could paint them, if I had paint-
buckets of rain and you
over and over again, every step

ever upwards. When I carry you
I am together with my discomfort.
I am walking so close beneath beauty.

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Windows

The ceiling was perfectly flat. The corners exact, no paint misplaced. Nothing wrong. He rolled his head to the left. Underneath the fridge there were silhouettes of dirt, balls of dust, lost food. Maybe the floor. What had it been? When he was standing there a moment before something had been off. He had gotten to his knees and rubbed his thumb against the floor tile. That hadn’t helped. He had remembered the technique his mother had taught him for finding small things; he pressed his cheek against the cold white tile and still, nothing seemed wrong. He was glad he had laid down.

“Where are you?” Her voice came out of the bedroom. There was some kind of shuffling, she must be getting dressed. “Someone called you.”

He leaned his head back. He could see the sky even though the window shade was mostly down. It looked warm and blue but he knew it would be freezing. She walked through the door zipping up the side of her dress. “Where are you?”

“Who called?”

“Jesus Christ,” Her face seemed to burst then almost instantly close; lines formed in between her eyebrows. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Did you pick it up or did it go to voicemail?”

She shook her head, “I don’t know, I didn’t see.”

He nodded. “There’s something weird about the kitchen. Are you going out?”

“I’m going to Midtown. Are you just going to stay there? I need to get something.”

He shuffled to the side and she stepped over him. As she reached up and began rifling through the cabinet her heels lifted off the floor, the veins in her ankles visible and thick through the skin. He almost reached out and grabbed them.

“Here we go.” She stepped down and walked into the bathroom, not bothering to turn the light on. He could hear the water running. He took a deep breath and sighed loudly.

She came out of the bathroom and stood over him. “I’m going down to Midtown, is there anything you need? There’s your phone again.” It was buzzing in the bedroom. She handed it to him.

“Okay, I’m going, you don’t need anything?” He shook his head, holding the buzzing phone. “I’ll probably be back in a couple of hours, give me a call if you think of anything.”

The door closed.

He laid there for a minute. The phone was still buzzing. He had been clasping it over his chest. After awhile it stopped. He put it down on the tile next to the fridge.

He brought up his knees and groaned. Most of his backside had fallen asleep. He used the counter to pull himself up. He stood there for a second, getting his bearings. The room was worse now than it had been earlier. It was tilted, as if he had just been dizzy. He went over to the window. The streets outside looked as if they slanted strangely away. A familiar flock of pigeons flew by. They dipped by the window in the exact same way at least once every day. He always caught it out of the corner of his eye. They never changed. The same flock, the same swoop. He rapped his fingertips on the glass, bitten fingernails making an unsatisfying thumping sound. There were millions of windows in New York City. More windows than there were people. Most windows must not be seen at all. Might as well just be walls.

Virginia Woolf

1

My joints are weak; I almost lose
balance on the cobblestones.
Even this poem-writing I do
to keep my mind from eclipsing
or being eclipsed. You see—
by what, by whom?

2

I am walking towards the girl and she is walking towards me. I am trying to make her real when she smiles at me like her mouth has been stretched across her face and I thought only I smile that way. She is walking towards me and the tree gets in the way and I think I will never see her again.

3

I am losing it.
Not my mind, no,
don’t think that.

It’s just, people do
go insane sometimes.
They probably seem

pretty normal.

4

Oh my friends.
Oh my words,
dead in the mist.
The waves! The waves
of the River Ouse.
Oh my friends
in the mist.
Oh my god, my god
my god.

Curtain with Rods

Fear bounded by house.
Eye circling round storm
shaped bed. Restlessness.

The Walk (prologue)

I am walking down a road.
The road is there
and I also, am there.

The man is on the road,
just standing, when I stand,
and walking, when I walk.

I want to call out his name
but it is too loud
because of the storm.

I Wake Up from a Dream at a Table

You are in my head. It is autumn.
The front door opens and I know it
because the light outside is gray
and my book turns a page.

You rush into the house.
The leaves are little fires
which burn very slowly.

Jokes

A serial killer walks into a bar and kills everybody.

A horse walks into a bar and the bartender doesn’t even like horses because of something to do with the length of their faces but his daughter is giving him those eyes and he groans like, “not those eyes!” and later when the bar closes they take the horse home.

A rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into a bar and all complain about their diabetes.

Sadaam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden walk into a bar and Donald Rumsfeld points his hands at them like guns and goes, “Pew! Pew!”

In this one dimension, the big bang occurs in such a way that the universe is a bar and everything walks into it.

Osama Bin Laden walks into a bar and the special forces throw everyone’s bodies into the ocean.

A boy, a bear, a piglet, a tiger, a rabbit, and a donkey all walk into a bar, fuck the place up, and pay in honey. Later, the bear, in a confused state, steals back all the honey.

A woman named Harriet and 51 of her imaginary friends walk into a bar wondering where the party’s at.

A woman named Harriet walks into a bar and the bartender falls in love with her and she falls in love back and they get drunk together and have sex and it’s decent.

Harriet is the bartender’s imaginary friend but he always forgets that.

God walks into a bar and Jesus is already there and there’s this Awkward Silence.

A bar walks into a bar.

A bar walks in on a bar and it’s uncomfortable and the first bar doesn’t know what to say and just closes the door.

A man and a woman walk into a bar and then later out of a bar.

Sisyphus pushes a bar all the way up a hill and when he is about to walk into the bar it rolls back down again.

The bartender is the sun and no one is sober.

A psychotic maniac charges into a bar but is very well spoken and makes a lot of friends. Later they’re all into regime change.

God kills himself in the bathroom of a bar and the rest of time is spent piecing him back together.

War is in a bar and never leaves because a genie keeps refilling its glass.

This one guy in a bar keeps talking about his penis.

Everyone is on drugs.

The bartender can’t remember going outside and wonders if his life is some sort of joke…

A bomb destroys everything in a bar and your philosopher friends are like, “Well, what really is ‘a place’?”

1 million kittens walk into something.

The loud hum of everyone talking is in a bar. As you lean back in your chair something blinks.

The wind blows into a bar and Dawn is in the back spinning a Frisbee on her fingers.

The Mirror Used Hands

Dan Levin looks at himself asleep
In that crack under the door.

He wants to let himself through
But only murmurs and turns over.

Dan Levin is his own name
Gone forgotten on the train ride.

He keeps his eyes closed and thinks
He is a cloud that is empty.

Dan Levin gets up and opens the door.
The crack gets big as Dan Levin and

The trees outside
come in.

Silence the Silence

It was supposed to rain here every day.
Instead I wake up and occasionally,
it’s just this static through the windows.
It appears and disappears, the air
opens and closes briefly, giving way.

Static turns into steam, a colder season.
The lake runs from itself into vapor,
and wisps, drifting, visible only against
the dark cracks of hands, concrete walls,
a seagull in the fog, defending itself.

The white wall outside my window
wakes me up to it. Rain solidified.
I blink blink my eyes, black, white,
black, white. I open it up.
Just a crack– just enough–

Windows …from A Portrait of a Bird

The ceiling was perfectly flat. The corners were exact, no paint misplaced, nothing visibly wrong. He rolled his head to the left. Underneath the fridge there were silhouettes of dirt, balls of dust, lost food. Maybe the floor was imperfect. What had been wrong? When he had been standing there a moment before something had been off. He had gotten to his knees and rubbed his thumb against the floor tile. That hadn’t helped. He had remembered the technique his mother had taught him for finding small things. With his cheek pressed against the cold white surface he still hadn’t been able to see anything. He was glad he had laid down.

“Where are you?” Her voice came out of the bedroom. There was some kind of shuffling, she must be getting dressed. “Someone called you.”

He leaned his head back. He could see the sky even though the window shade was mostly down. It looked warm and blue but he knew it would be freezing. She walked through the door zipping up the side of her dress. “Where are you?”

“Who called?”

“Jesus Christ,” Her face seemed to burst then almost instantly close; lines formed in between her eyebrows. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Did you pick it up or did it go to voicemail?”

She shook her head, “I don’t know, I didn’t see.”

He nodded, approving. “There’s something weird about the kitchen. Are you going out?”

“I’m going to Midtown. Are you just going to stay there? I need to get something.”

He shuffled to the side and she stepped over him. As she reached up and began rifling through the cabinet her heels lifted off the floor, the veins in her ankles visible and thick through the skin. He almost reached out and grabbed them.

“Here we go.” She stepped down and walked into the bathroom, not bothering to turn the light on. He could hear the water running. He took a deep breath and sighed loudly.

She came out of the bathroom and stood over him. “I’m going down to Midtown, is there anything you need? There’s your phone again.” It was buzzing in the bedroom. She handed it to him.

“Okay, I’m going, you don’t need anything?” He shook his head, holding the buzzing phone. “I’ll probably be back in a couple of hours, give me a call if you think of anything.” He heard the door close.

He laid there for a minute. The phone was still buzzing. He had been clasping it over his chest the entire time. After awhile it stopped. He put it down on the tile next to the fridge.

He brought up his knees and groaned. Most of his backside had fallen asleep. He used the counter to pull himself up. He stood there for a second, getting his bearings. The room was worse now than it had been earlier. It was tilted, as if he had just been dizzy. He went over to the window. The problem was no different outside, the streets looked like they slanted strangely away. A familiar flock of birds, probably pigeons, flew by. They dipped and looped by the window in the exact same way at least once every day. He always caught it out of the corner of his eye. They never changed. The same flock, the same swoop. Maybe they flew all around the city in this pattern and everyone else always saw them out of their own windows, flying in the exact same way. Stuck in a loop. He rapped his fingertips on the glass, bitten fingernails making an unsatisfying thumping sound. There were millions of windows in New York City. More windows than there were people. At any given moment, were more windows being seen into, or out of? Most windows must not be seen at all. Might as well just be walls.