05 August 2005

Ralph Angel

[from Neither World, 1995, by Ralph Angel]

Breaking Rhythm

And then the head is at odds with the body.

And then the head strangles your way of thinking.

But don't get me wrong. It's not
that I'm saying life's taking us nowhere,

if I'm not saying yes, I'm a liar, a liar who does not
dwell in the shadow of his own home—

kind of your average, respectable, two-bit junkie
          who thinks he knows what he’s after,
and what he’s after is nightmare. Concussive. Brutal.
          The unending
ritual of eluding detection rising up and taking
shape with flaring nostrils and enormous hands,

and if it just happens to be pain that he’s in right now,
well, at least, pain is who he is for a while.

No big deal. Out loud
the pulse quickens and, very loudly, prolongs itself.

Anger slams the door on a mettlesome friend of a friend,

and then I am boredom paying for groceries,
most happy when you chew on my chin
in luxurious sweat, in our sexual oil,

exhaustion on the subway back to the city. The fact is
I can only hear one part of myself at a time.

And it’s late. And I’m tired. And it sounds like
all or nothing. A fistful of thirst and a cup of hot tea,

the silence shame gathers into no boundary.

The robe. The pocketknife. The loaves of bread.
Mud on the carpets. The shatter of leaves.

The wonder, the wonder, the wonder.

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