Finding your form

is not a form of discipline. He held still

in the bulbs of light

while the shutters clattered & saw.

When he could no longer hold still

he was held still. Afterwards

they left him alone with his life

& there were tears in the low register

heroes use to explicate important concepts.

Hold still,

someone was saying. If he turned to listen

there was a barrel on fire, & if he turned

again & again

there was still a burning barrel & an alley

& nothing else. He thought

when the coaches said by any means

it was an odd way of talking about a human

career. Maybe there was only one means

& one form, one account of everything.

If he moved down the alley

& came out of that crevice—


which was a sort of vacuum—

maybe he knew himself. Above, ads roiled

in the wake of single-engine

planes, & in those engines & in the nets

they hung their letters from,

there was form

& discipline. An engine of speech in a net

in the sky.

He turned to go down the alleyway because

it was dangerous,

& because he wanted his good side

to be briefly in the dark.

& at the end of the shuttered light

he held still, & the light also held still.









& backwards go

the men into the garden, & what is it

herding them

but a haircut & a vacuous look they had

when they were twenty,

which earned its horns twice over

if they had the same

cut & look

when they were thirty. Forget about great


men, & soon the great forgetting

will be over, leaving all that is left all over.

Forward go long sleeves, a longitude,

& shame.

What is herding them

you are. All over the world, curtains drew

& obscured lush portages

the world over, & there were some sighs


but mostly it was better than continuing

to want better. Ponies cannot love

children. But O, those ponies. Those ponies.










A city is a coincidence of persons,

& also a proof

that anything can be replicated.

In the city it is misery

thatŐs replicated, & coincidence.

                                                     Some say worse

                                                                 is the congestion—


                                                     such traffic in the semi-conscious

                                                     it even gluts the tongue. I say

                                                                 the worst

                                                     is meeting those people you know

                                                     you can do nothing for,

                                                     in a city that surely has something

                                                                 for everyone.


Yesterday a man & I

                                                     stood arm to arm (actually, I stood

                                                     next to the bulletproof dock

he was waiting in

                                                     in the Municipal Court), & today

                                                     I know him but I donŐt know what

                                                     he means anymore. He looks at me

& the city inside of him


does me the favor of

making so many coincidences

not a single one of them constitutes

a memory. He looks at me,

& what I mean to do

is replicate perfectly

the aloofness of all polite, irrelevant

persons. & it works.








Numbers are different.

You can take nineteen from nineteen.

Numbers are also the same,

because you can only do that once.

Numbers are not socialized,

a charitable disease that nevertheless

makes it possible

for the only purpose of the part to be

the whole. Yesterday, & the day just

before that, all there was

was weather, because if not people


then geography (& this may be called

the function). If yes to weather, then yes

to people, & if yes

to people, yes to an apple sitting still

on a workbench where a manŐs left it.

My bench. His apple. Naturally

if there is an apple on the workbench

I wonder like anyone


who it is for & what it could improve,

& what sort of man it is who could

be improved by it, & why merely one

& not two apples.

If the man returns as I observe all this,

if the man is a satellite of the apple

& so is mathematically held in its thrall,

there is a fracture of the senses,

from which only he, or I, or the apple

may emerge significant, only if it is me


it is doubly so, as unlike him I am not

an approximation. What is in a man is

not a whole, but the series of functions

by which he is educated

about death & the lack of consequences.









On the corner now, heŐs holding a flower,

maybe an amaranthus.

It is a particularly poor metaphor

for rain on Wednesday, for the boot-tramped

wetted hedge,

for a flight of terns maybe westerly overhead,

but so is he.

All of it is important. Because

a picked flower, in the hand of a dead florist

who walking along the rail was struck


on his left side

in a snowstorm, creates the kind of frisson

missing when it is only a teen toxic on Stoli

who goes off the highway

like a declarative into darkness. That florist

was old enough to expect

death. That flower was old enough

to be picked. It was time


for it to be picked, but only because he did it.

The time was not

until the picking was, & maybe that makes

the dead our declaration

& our metaphor,

maybe following verb with noun is happiness

& creates time.

Of course there is nothing actually

happy about it, but still somewhere someone

maybe a teenage girl

is about to smile over a secret. & what a secret!

Maybe she killed him.

But she could always hold her liquor.