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Removal Service Request

ISSUE:  Spring 1997
It is 2:45 a. m. I can’t sleep. This apartment is too noisy.
It’s totally quiet. It’s filled with the noise of the past.
How does anyone sleep after the age of 35? Things
gather in your apartment and they stay, you bring them
to the next apartment and each thing learns to emit its own
signal, its own night-noise. Your eyes open in the dark.
There should be a service a person could call
to get some relief . . .

Crystal Clearance Experts, Stark & Stark Divestment Consultants,
pragmatic seraphim from a god of gentle oblivion:
Take away the heartbreaking photographs!
You with your white pickup truck whose bumper says


you should come now and take away the heartbreaking
Take the odd and ill-focused and poorly aimed and ostensibly
along with the obviously poignant—I don’t trust any of them
Empty the closet:
there is a pale blue suit that knows too much about vows not kept
and 30 shirts hang there nursing their 30 claims:
one from I know who in Syracuse,
seven from someone who did love me in Connecticut,
and the green shirt chosen by my mother 24 years ago,
it still fits.

Take them away. And from the linen shelf take
the blue flowered pillowcase
that still knows what it knows of sleepers sleeping in 1978.
Leave that shelf bare,


leave me standing alone under one plain burning bulb
a freed man—

take the books. Remove
a novel given by its lonesome author I never read
and the book I read on a plane to San Francisco
trying to build a life and then it became this rain forest
of murmurs all night; take the two books
I carried during lunch breaks in the summer of ‘81
because they won’t shut up about the self I intended;
the whole bookcase is roped with vines, uncontrollable thick
unchoppable vines of memory
come chop them now. It is 2:49 a. m. —
this apartment is all vines, all noise of vines
I’ve had it! Seraphim,
fleet removers with transparent gloves
don’t fail to seize the videotape
of a four-year-old boy maneuvering toy trains and helicopters
in the gray-tiled corridor of this apartment
this apartment not his home though he was my son

removers: get it all:
cart off all cherishability.
I just remembered my box of 45s—it’s buzzing unbearably;
I know who sat half-happily on a fold-out bed in Watertown
agreeing that the Chiffons and the Dixie Cups were so fine;
nail shut that box and pitch it
from the stern of a fast black ship

because listen! I cannot be Mister Elegy all night!
To be Mister Elegy all night is a busy kind of death.
I need a sleep in which the past is not Times Square.
O lord of silence, Chief of Divestment Unlimited
send viewless unprecedented nymphs
who’ll kidnap me to a vast white casino
where the only books in my suite are science fiction
and orgasm comes every half hour
with a new steak-fed cheerleader who majors in chemistry.

Or not.

   All right.

      I’m tired. Those cheerleaders,

I see them turning on the TV in my priceless suite
to watch some game show I never heard of,
I see their skin 21 smooth 21 smooth 21 smooth
till I’m all too safe and blank to get an erection
or just too human anyway I’m tired, tired enough to sleep now;
removers, return,
infiltrate the white casino and take me home.


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