SETS FROM PURGATORY
[Beach / Penultimate time / Nature of bodies]
There are diverse architectures of being lost Although
Because being lost is always being lost the penultimate time
The first person I met, coming to approach me across the grayish-tigerish sand, was hot on the trail of someone else. His shirt was torn. Across his forehead was a small gash dribbling blood. Not dribbling blood, said another gentleman, showing me his own gash on his own arm. Dribbling what?— I inquired. Dribbling, from what I can tell, a sort of rarified aether. This second gentleman, whose approach I'd evidently not witnessed, then ran headlong into the woods, as if a Victorian habitually pursued by an invisible bear.
The other gentleman, the one whose approach I'd seen, said that his name was Kim and that he'd been a schoolteacher in South Korea.
Certainly, I said, you taught English. Your English is fantastic.
The gentleman touched his mouth and staggered backward in the sand. He looked much worse off than I. He excused himself and began running. He ran along the water. After a while, he changed direction in a long graceful curve—like a soccer player anticipating movement on the emerald pitch. He disappeared into the forest.
Well, I say, at least it's the penultimate time. If I had a telephone that could transmit without wires, I would call several people today from this place and stop putting it off for once. I'd call a caterer to get hot coffee delivered to all the members of the conference next week during breaks in the schedule. I'd call a band to get a band. I'd call a vicious woman and a random timid guy and get them to take counseling together. I'd call Felix and tell him that the weather is horrible and we're staying indoors and ghosting. We open a dictionary and the air condenses slightly around the definition or rarifies. In the condensed or rarified air, a body shows itself, not unlike one of ours. The clothes are almost right. The posture is almost right. It's horrifying.
Those bastards at the faculty had something, I said to the young woman who was next to me now. With their witticisms, I continued, with their moods. I saw how each one possessed his own sympathy, each sympathy incommensurate with all the others. Hellish. Intelligence or stupidity.
[Bedroom / Nature of Ambitions]
That late evening, a state of disturbance was felt vaguely in the bedroom. The husband, appearing from the corridor and rubbing his hair with a towel, went to the middle of the bed and sat down.
Watching this scene in the third person, one wants to say in the first person, It's dark through the window, it's dark through the trees. The driveways are dark under the dark trees and dark skies.
In the first person, one wants to hear vaguely that we were the hardest working couple I knew. The furniture in our apartments diverted the river like sunken machinery.
So I'm going to put my mark on America, and I'm going to do it the right way. I've established an online network to promote the increase of contact between donors and overseas non-governmental organizations. My sexuality and my frustration sleep together like two desperate, red-throated Hollywood types. My intentions are fierce, practical, a bit filthy like everyone's, and deeply good.
In the closet you'll find a large white egg, larger than an ostrich's egg. If what hatches from it is spectacular, I can put all this behind me.
In purgatory, if you have cunning, you must use it all until there's none left. I don't know if there are ways to do this quickly. When a stage magician goes to purgatory, he or she has to become a diplomat. These poems are illustrated by Michael Hafftka [here]