to have been, instead, by Stephen Motika

instead, insulted. to look, in green light. redact. can you read… the oracular, such indifference. failing in the halls of an unknown.

to have powered down. mission. some sort of cavalcade, plane flight caucus to indifference. a mission, museum, the night in the unknown. a city.

raked forest leaves, consorted with compost fires, down in steam, walked an incline, slipped to fall. the clatter of bones on buried stones, on those leaves fallen, but not as fast as I fell.

in Turrell’s dim light, I realized the failure of the art official. an artificial stance, an impossibility: to speak and listen simultaneously.

the train bed, we call them tracks, where two ties swim beneath. a gossip, these gadgets, soaked in white scrimmed preamble. I made the mistake of coming closer, again.

ihe rejection, a mastication of the brain, those thoughts that fuel the day. I can’t, besides, canning involves brine and fish we simply don’t have.

in the sea farm, large carp. in the lake, a new cat finds our resources, our swims, those precious summer waters, where the between marks space.

the train from platform; here, everything in an elevated series of windows, lighted, in yellow mirrored fashion. large tower rests on the ground. the pavement gives way, the grinding of breaks.

came across a few seats, edits, and large empty doors. there were paintings, an elderly man. a slipped space to look aside guards and walls. I can’t think of how many steps it takes to escape.

platformed, clasped, we waited to circulate, encased, dined within curator’s task, lips sown in a silence of those emeriti.

caustic, in bold approach, pallid lips, rouged face, nearly quaffed and ensconced. I edged the red, a rage lost in the linen weave, a time.

Mercury Dressing, by J. D. McClatchy

To steal a glance and, anxious, see
Him slipping into transparency—
The feathered helmet already in place,
Its shadow fallen across his face
(His hooded sex its counterpart)—
Unsteadies the routines of the heart.
If I reach out and touch his wing,
What harm, what help might he then bring?

But suddenly he disappears,
As so much else has down the years…
Until I feel him deep inside
The emptiness, preoccupied.
His nerve electrifies the air.
His message is his being there.

Inspire Hope, by Amy Lawless

I am in a common despair. So in order for me to have hope, it is crucial to stack fifty pounds of books on the left-hand side of my bed. I cover him tightly with my warmest woolen blankets. This boyfriend is named Shiver. He is best left alone to his thoughts. But one night, I will accidentally roll into him. He’ll fall on me with such grace and with the acceleration of all of history.

Glut, by Gerald Stern

The whole point was getting rid of glut
for which I starved myself and lived with the heat down
and only shaved oh every five days and used
a blunt razor for months so that my cheek
was not only red but the hair was bent not cut
for which I then would be ready for the bicycle
and the broken wrist, for which—oh God—I would be
ready to climb the steps and fight the boxes
with only nothing, a pair of shoes, and once
inside to open the window and let the snow in
and when the fire was over climb down the icy
fire escape and drop the last twenty
feet with notebooks against my chest, bruises
down one side of my body, fresh blood down the other.

The Unforgiven, by Russell Edson

After a series of indiscretions a man stumbled homeward, thinking, now that I am going down from my misbehavior I am to be forgiven, because how I acted was not the true self, which I am now returning to. And I am not to be blamed for the past, because I’m to be seen as one redeemed in the present... 
         But when he got to the threshold of his house his house said, go away, I am not at home. 
         Not at home? A house is always at home; where else can it be? said the man. 
         I am not at home to you, said his house. 

         And so the man stumbled away into another series of indiscretions...

Moreover, the Moon—, by Mina Loy

Face of the skies
over our wonder.

truant of heaven
draw us under.

Silver, circular corpse
your decease
infects us with unendurable ease,

touching nerve-terminals
to thermal icicles

Coercive as coma, frail as bloom
innuendoes of your inverse dawn
suffuse the self;
our every corpuscle become an elf.

Cold Blooded Creatures, by Elinor Wylie

Man, the egregious egoist,
(In mystery the twig is bent,)
Imagines, by some mental twist,
That he alone is sentient

Of the intolerable load
Which on all living creatures lies,
Nor stoops to pity in the toad
The speechless sorrow of its eyes.

He asks no questions of the snake,
Nor plumbs the phosphorescent gloom
Where lidless fishes, broad awake,
Swim staring at a night-mare doom.