Apartment Poetry Quarterly

4A              4B              4C              4D              4E              4F


2F M. Mack


for Tom Raworth

In principio light from an unspecified source, ancestor from a small fishing village and the mystery of everyday I imagine somewhere better and missing. Gauze scuttles the sky. I shuffle and rorschach or rochambeau, paper eats rock and I’m filled with arrows. There are a thousand one-eyed jacks but only one blind accordion player on the line to hellgate. I shuffle. A sparrow twitches in quick rotating curiosity, cocks its head slightly, flies away. Is everything endless also meaningless? Wash your feet on stones. Shuffle, aleatory patient.


Glacial among the floes I’m in the throes, skimming the sea humming an unfinished symphony with a detachment only fitting to the vanguard. I recite my mantra: horse of butter, gallon of bread, a stick of milk. I arrive a saint or stranger. I jook and fake the shadows with the face of a butoh dancer. I strip the effects like a vintner on a vine. I parry with invisible foils around empty city squares. Between moves I’m all up in the ozone. At night I haunt theaters, a mercenary for the pygmies then the cranes. I slink through the stacks net twitching like a squirrel’s tail. I shack up with strange music, voices figuring like pinwheels, until my brain squirms in jetsam and firework cartoons. I unwind but my skein threads a pair of shears. I consult my barometer: the wisest know they are not. To be as mantled as a halcyon comet is my only aim. I hail a taxi into a wormhole.


He ruled, king of my dead. He played flanker on my wing never quite drunk, never completely sober. Out came the tumblers, spirits varnished and dissolved in thinners and lost weekends lasting all week. He was like a lot of us.

Once after an all-nighter I found myself in his bathroom. I saw his watch sitting on the sink, pictures of yellow crescent moons in space on its blue face. I thought I needed a watch. Obviously I didn’t know the time. Otherwise I would have slept. But I took the watch anyway and left.

Later he died, wrapped his scirocco like a winding sheet around a tree in the wilds of suburbia en route to some theme park late one night. The threat of vehicular manslaughter haunts us all. But I was wearing his watch.

I wore his watch but it didn’t help. At his funeral in the field I lost myself in holy music and when I emerged I wasn’t wearing his watch and when I realized it was gone I lost myself again. I’m not gazing at my shoes, no I’m skylarking, pure energy, obliterated, making a connection at an airport for white noise. I hear as if for the first time: O my ecstatic radio static, emperor of the rain. I was nowhere, nothing, no one: that’s the only way to describe it, negations that point beyond language. Afterward someone said, “I saw you out there. That was crazy.” Maybe it was, but what would you have done? I no longer had a dead man’s watch on my wrist.