He stands alone on the corner.
Shaggy brown hair hangs
and tangles with the tatters of his clothes.
The colors have left him, so he blends
with the fog that has its fingers
wrapped in everything.
I barely see him, a ghost
in front of a window. But our
eyes meet. His eyes pierce the fog
and burrow into mine—
time slows, my speedometer
needle stuck on thirty-seven.
He glows, like St. Elmo’s fire,
I blink and it’s broken.
Those eyes held mine
for a fraction of eternity.
Something unsaid stuck
in my throat. Look back—
lost in the fog and the traffic.
But there, a glimmer.
Snow flurries across my window,
torn from the sky. The remnants of
clouds ripped by ghosts.
Swirls in the snow—I see faces.
Women and children, transparent
in their flight as they thrash against
glass. Dreams come alive.
Turned nightmare by the fury
of a grey sky that rages.
Eyes burn, shallow, but with an intensity
that terrifies me.
And I close my eyes against the storm.
But the rage,
the rage that threatens to rip apart,
seethes and I can see it in my breath.
A fire creeps toward me,
threatens to caress my cheek and take me home.
This is the end now.
Three-fourths of an ounce
has left you—
or is it you? Escaping
a carbon prison.
He is here to guide you.
To explain your existence—
or lack of one now.
There isn’t enough evidence
to say for sure. Postmortem
isn’t really the place to say.
But here you are.
If it really is you, and not
just a fog of a last breath
captured on a mirror.
Perhaps you are just a reflection—
and you will watch the world
As I write this, I can feel—
is it you? A tangible something
swirl around the room.
I almost see
a face, your face
stare from the window.
The strings that make the puppet two-step
in front of laughing kids. Their eyes gleam.
And when the puppet falls, no one cries.
Because it’s part of the comedy.
Like the dead from the grave, the tiny
painted wooden body returns to dance,
caught in strings that everyone chooses
to let their eyes slip past, like skirting
the murder of a mother of two on the 5 o’clock news.
Because it’s part of the tragedy.
The tears that cling and refuse to fall
scream we are only human.
The child, cutting into
the stuffed teddy bear, curious of the softness.
In the aftermath of clouded stuffing,
like a nest prepared by a bird’s dreaming,
the child sits, cross-legged, in the middle,
clutching the hollow husk of Mr. Pemberbottom,
asking why won’t the clouds go back?
The gasp I feel that pounds against
my calcium cage. A stick rattles against
old oaken slats, in time with the steps that crush
and stain the sidewalk with the carnage of
blueberries, shed and forgotten by the tree’s broken hand.
My shoes stick, so I leave them.
Because it’s part of the drama.
And barefoot I wade through the tiny bodies,
feeling their squish between my toes.
The flat of a hand spread wide against the wall,
veins trying to peek through vellum skin against
the yearning to slip through the eggshell white, the drywall,
the cedar beams. Like the gilded bird, the blue of sky
held in two tiny orbs, looking through the bars, but unable
to escape them. Because even birds want to fly,
and knife into the clouds like the butcher
slices the choicest cuts. And when the day
is over, and the knife clean, the blood clings tightly
in my hands.