It’s the little things
that count, no, not count, but accumulate
into the bigger things that count. Who
counts anyway? You’re too busy,
consumed, so to speak, by the ongoing minutia,
the fifty phone calls necessary to confirm one
fact. It’s the absurdity of it all. To render a memorable
idiom takes four decades, at least,
and by then, someone in another city has vocalized
it in the most trivial of performances, sans sparkle, sans
pertinence, and who is to believe it was you first,
and does it matter?
Cherish your quirkiness. You’re isolated or famous,
and neither means anything.
Be polite and affable, but stay singular on the inside,
so that at any moment you can separate one
persona from another. You are never you. I know
I am never me. I encapsulate myself in the bathroom
when cramps relegate me to the can. That’s as close
as I can get. When pure function. Not even a facsimile
of a role—no one dramatizes such moments.
Other times I’m a composite of who knows
what. I locate myself in the most peculiar instances, such
as on the subway marveling at the extraordinary bodies
my fellow humans reside in and try to accept.
Balconies make me dizzy. An ultimate loneness.
I grab on to a railing, if there is one,
the brick if not, laying my palms across
them as I look down. Fear of heights, suspended
in midair with no guarantees, a slab
of concrete jutting out from the side of a building—
the actual defying the impossible, the extraordinary
so taken for granted, I sense the featheriness of my body
twittering in the breeze as if the slightest gust
could suddenly loosen my footing and toss me off.
Toying with my mortality, I dare myself to the edge,
while others, nonchalant about such matters,
engage me in drink and talk without noticing my tentative
steps, my smallness, my glances at the inviting space.
One senses a voice—not a voice but a compulsion,
not to end anything but to test an end, not
a case of dying but an urge toward experience,
like viewing a horror movie, clutching the seat’s
edges, knowing full well resolution
is generally positive, and again does it matter?
One exits into the open air safe as a sparrow
and flutters back to the familiar.
But there is that moment of doubt, when all
regularities are not so much challenged but obliterated,
and for a few seconds you’re stranded among lifeless
objects—you reach out with your eyes and touch them,
but they have no extension just flatness.
The grand end in a gulf, or more mundane,
in the Hudson, when one on a ferry suddenly, like a gull,
disappears, others speculating, “Yes, he was here,”
and “Where has he gone?”—a denouement lacking
in worthiness, which should embrace, if not ceremony, at least
acknowledgment, so that others can decipher the equation,
for all actions have equations and can be filed in a catalog,
or, better, on a computer, because times have advanced
if suicide has not. A victory, I suppose, if you upstage
the inevitable, but who is to care? A statistic, an obit,
a leap over the railing, never in a drunken stupor
because booze gives one the giddiness, if not
the fortitude, to live on, and one must be giddy
to live on, but the water is so riveting, so sensual.