It was around seven at night when I finally got out of my mother.
I started talking at once. The family was astounded.
“Keep it up,” they urged, and I started to think of things to say.
There was a time when I considered
the best talker in a family of talkers.
Whatever. It was a means to an end.
That end was that I talked
out of everything.
I used that word a lot.
It was a ratchet handle, could be switched
from install to extract with one motion.
Slap any socket, any word on it, and I’d make it work.
I don’t care for legumes.
I’m indifferent to rockets.
I’m a big fan of radicchio dipped in sea salt.
One evening, at seven again,
I made a mistake and stopped talking for a moment.
It didn’t bother me but a lot of the family thought I was nuts
and I ended up in a bare room with a cheese grater wall to lean on
and a pleasant sense of dislocation without my usual tools
at hand. There was sand under my tongue.
My breath smelled of comic books and colorfield theory
and it was so nice, for once, to not speak
unless I was spoken to.
I got out and found a living that made the talking
not so much a tool but a brace. The ratchet handle
slipped in my hand as easily as ever, and I could talk about
endlessly, even when I used borrowed sockets
seem like a different chokehold. The family soon fell asleep –
why listen to things that didn’t concern a fact at all?
I found new families to bore. I found new nuts to turn
and kept using
to gain leverage.
Over time, I lost the urgent sense of sand and blood in my palm.
Over time there was
too much wolf,
not enough sea snake.
Too much noose,
not enough bowtie.
Too much pistol,
not enough summer squash.
Too much fuck,
not enough no touch at all.
Too much rain of monkeys,
not enough snow of shillings;
it was so easy.
The alley girls, the backstage boys,
those who called
from the shadows for the opportunity
to hear my disturbances,
they all wanted to eat the same things
every night, and I let them,
it was so easy.
What I said was
was theirs to think on
and I let them,
it was so easy.
Who was I to say I was not what they thought?
I though I could talk my way back to
I tried, but now the power’s off at seven at night
and I’m sitting in the hot darkness of a small room
built from smooth, sweating walls. There’s no money
to speak of. Every dollar is a laugh giggling good bye
and the cat is barely moving without the AC. I’m barely moving.
The wrench called
is splintering, the receiver for the socket
worn, the switch that changes direction
finally swinging free and no longer engaging
and I talk more and more, trying to gain purchase,
work the bolts in what I need to construct or destruct,
in one slippery increment at a time.
On the desktop of this old computer
is a document named “Everything I’ve Learned.”
It’s empty, save for the names of the lessons.
The lessons themselves are scattered around a lot of places
that exist in public and only in public.
I didn’t have a private thing to put in there.
This is what I get for a career in talking
The family would get a chuckle out of this if they could see me,
but I keep
a little far from them these days. They don’t want to see
or hear me like this, the wrench rattling useless and repetitive
on steel. I get it, so I respect it. I sit here at seven every night
and strip my threads trying to make
it’ll be understood and even appreciated
when at last I choose silence
and throw myself away.
Seven at night,
still light for now.
But not for long:
the U-turn that has loomed from the beginning,
that has been implied in every turn of every screw,
waits there in the bitter, salty summer night.
Tags: poems, poetry, meditations, depression, death