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Silent Acts of Public Indiscretion (Fomite Press, forthcoming in 2021)

Stifled
       

     What I say to you is never what
     I say to you but something else instead.

          -Clarice Lispector

I can barely open my mouth.

What comes out is inaudible.

If something would bubble up inside me,

would enter the place that sound begins,

maybe then I would say

what happens between the lines of my breath.

 

But as it is,

I find nothing to engage my tongue. 

I ask you just the same—

hear me.

 

Crack the shuttered window of my silence.

Pry me open—listen to me shriek

with terror or with laughter.

Let these words make their futile escape.

 

 

Apex New York

 

     The only to fight the play is with decency.

          -Albert Camus

 

Here we are at the epicenter.

The apex, or maybe just

a fluke in numbers too heavy

to speak. Even our breath

is taken away by an earth

that pays us back for all

the damage we have done,

but still sends us tulips,

daffodils, blooming magnolias,

and other tokens of our

lucky lives. The sun still touches

our forbidden faces. Everyday

we cheer, we clap, we bang

pots and pans at seven o'clock

when shifts change at hospitals

and angels pass each other by

under a darkening sky. Dr. Li,

I whisper, Captain Crozier,

all our secret heroes, as though

they could keep us from harm.

We applaud people who can't

stay home—their job is

to care for us all. And

we cheer for ourselves as well,

for still being here to applaud.

 

 

Forgetting Time Lost

 

     I never understood how time passes.

          -Grace Paley

 

By the time we all knew

how much time we had lost

it was too late to count it, but

 

we marked our time with two

seven o'clocks, each day

in our beloved city.

 

We tried to grab hold of

parts of time, the way we

remembered each day—

 

You'd have no time for

all our fussing. Well, ok,

you said. Farewell certain years.

 

You would have clapped

and yelled loudest of all

putting neighbors into groups

 

of angels, cheering the living

and mourning the dead, especially

the poor, the unknown, the unlucky