Self-Portrait As Failed State
So begins my apology for my body,
to my body. October Something,
four o’clock, this is a photograph
of my feelings: the leaves strewn
with sidewalk, everyone upset
with me. It all reminds me
of five years ago, when, of course,
we didn’t have these problems.
I miss the old problems. The needle
in me spins and spins but never lands
on GO. Like me, my body doesn’t know
or want to know what’s best for it.
My head is smoke. My chest is an anvil.
Whoever or whatever it is that operates
this sorcery on me has cut sleep out
of its burrow and assumed its place;
still I’m always able to find new
shadows, new clods to animate
in me—rocks that in shifting light
turn out to be sparrows, choruses
to rasp every single tired mantra
of love, of loving, of not being loved.
Then we walked through the elmy decay
overhanging the world. When I wake
in the ahistorical dark to feel the clay,
unkilned, of my chest, I still mark the time
when I was your grasshopper, slowly
getting better, rounding myself closer
to a final integer. You liked to doven
at your piano, crafting my name with wire
and hammer, using your science to hatch
primaeval nymphs, fly-winged, unready.
But I won’t dwell. In the version at hand
I use my own daft compass, the bad math
of it, to read the sky, to find in its grid
the particular square of screen door
that harbors the heavens’ most irksome
mosquito. Back to sleep in the Bed
Outside Time, my noctilucent thoughts
demand comfort—dear earthlings, I say,
you are so much more than your smoke
signals, but they want only the myth
of you, your waking again from stone.
If you come back come back to me
as lanthanum, brittle and spooky and rare,
and I will lend you a bundle of capillaries
from my cheek, a lock of hair—make of me
what you will. Don’t leave me as this shape
in bed, muck of sheets over spur of hip,
the rocks that reveal nothing, never
having revealed themselves.
GERARD COLETTA is originally from Boston, but currently lives in Brooklyn. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Open City, death hums, Print-Oriented Bastards, and elsewhere.