From a plastic Adirondack on the back deck
of a cabin sealed once but abandoned
to a splinter-shaggy-cinder-silver-gray,
I’d watched day diminish as vision does
when force on eye nerve bloats (vignetting)
and I’d come through regimented grass,
curt-sleeved, legs mosquito-peppered
as guestmates in the big house
drowsed on pét-nat and edibles.
Around me, swirling glowworms toked.
An ocher dinner party in a skylight-debossed
new buy, a teardown-put-back in bland exurbia
where almost mansions had been set up on extinguished
farms, the relics of failed effort scenic: frog ponds,
wells and meadows, barns and wallsteads
and what conscious double-work it took to get here
in capital’s late-stage now.
In the barn under shadow-vined beams
in an in-between of Worcester-and-Boston evening,
I sensed a hovering then, thing or moment
wanting, a calling down, a pulse in third
iris, unwell strobe with flaps as cranky
as the old barn doors left gulled with
every eke of effort bringing cringe.
The night before, unspooling like a scarf
or flimm, a dream as locomotive as a flush
of Muybridge cards—
My steeplechasing mind at gallop leaped—
dolphins in a spindrift as a dugout plowed
the billows off a coast, a coast not where I’m from,
shore with cast of, say, the Comoros, Mauritius,
beenie—not bounty Madagascar,
more like, say, Seychelles, and still the hills
there knew me as a bredrin unaligned,
and they stood off, judging, all lava-thick
with woods, clannish in their grouping,
allocentric—till zoop—a contrast cut
to gravy boat, and me swamped
at supper in a house I dimly knew
splashed in fish broth, arms thyme kelped
while SOS-ing rice djahazis,
yam tugs, and spatchcock catamarans;
all this under a saber-billed bananaquit,
at least it’s what I thought, eggset
in a bronze drum chandelier
and no kin there, no guests, just settings.
I woke up broken, slow-came-to
in riled-up percale, drained and draining
as war mares lost of riders broke on me,
cavalcade all leathergone, lapis
tumbling on the reef.
What is then and then this now?
Past the bare dirt stalls with their flopped hinges,
my nose hairs eyelashing waked dust, talcum
of solace for the plain pine boards,
I took the slim and rail-less stairs to the hayloft,
the riddim of my Wallabees splat; up there,
music from the drink up started faltering
through the left apart doorwindows wherethrough
drylife was once flung, tender soft shoe,
maybe Coles & Atkins, or ponies
on a leaf-embroidered road, a sweet sound
trampled roughshod by a spurred-on train,
a gyre-thunder airing westish in the woods,
a pitch of equus in the electromechanics
of painbray, liturgical horror groan,
wheel cut after wheel cut on the keloid rails.
Oh, Jah Rastafari, what’s become of me?
I easied to the hoistdown window
as the long-tail locomotive counterfaded
other way and the frog pond went choric
as the Sonos in the big revitallated house
let go of the palpitating hand of old maracas,
kaiso, and out came the cut-glass tone
of a piano fingered tentative
the way neuropathy from sugar
makes the foot phalanges linger on each
floorboard for the feel … console …
Thelonious … good nickname for folks like me
who call themselves apart and take the risk
and implications of eccentrics, hellbent
I looked out across the tree line yards away—
the toothy block of it—a band of clouds
was closing down, and thinking filled:
this like-this is what the Jonah bredrin
glimpsed at from the mouthparts of the whale.
A-framed ark of the covenant!
I looked up and saw in truss and stanchion
ribbed figuration of what choosing loose belonging
could have wrought, what life coulda
favored if your promise was shook,
if I’d cast myself from grace and off
my kilter, flipped up, ended upside down,
and I confessed I had, admitted all the goodness
in my life was undeserved.
On the walk back to the cabin for the succor
of my drink, from there thankful to the backsteps
of the jazz-lit house, I let mosquitoes scourge me,
leave me riddled like I do when actors rough me
from the stage, and I imagined what it must have
been for those yoke-and-collar-casted horses
in this gasping soil, frost and damp winters.
Did they, like us in our barracks,
dream fleeing, sense possible and parable
in trains, rear up two-footed in event of?
Practice human or,
or say, centaur? Two-handers