Jason Labbe



If I were a touch taller,
if I were braver and
never so splayed on the daybed,

if we killed the side of me
that is part secrecy and part
confusion, could we

chart the undetectable
and quivering dimension called
Lower Sky.

Nobody has the heart
to tell you
my illustration of string theory

is not quite improvised,
that I traced Hartford in the atlas
with a gel pen—

I can neither find my keys
nor explain
the subatomic world to you.

Lies about Hartford abound.
But my drawing demonstrates
Stevens lived nowhere but

Lower Sky, as did Twain,
though he was a bit more Buffalo,
a tad Tennessee.

Nobody else can bear
to drive you around impoverished
neighborhoods where

the air right above the sunroof
feels just like what blows in
through the windows.

If east-bound began with our heads down
to follow the black lines, it ends
in disappointment—

countless vacancies, dark
windows welcoming no one.
The small questions

add up to something hazy
and unnamed, the body's rising
intonation, wanting to thrive

in every empty office and storefront
at once. Stowe never arrives.
Here we are sounds different

than you'd expect, deflated,
and seems to say it was naïve
to want downtown to bustle at sundown.              

If I were younger and airy
we might hover
over the capitol's glimmering dome.

Lost in Cedar Hill Cemetery
it doesn't help
to impersonate each other

and misquote ad nauseam
from Harmonium.
Jackie, if our connection is

borrowing one another's intonation,
whose ghost translates us, or
is our image doomed to caricature.

Where is the physical voice,
if not in the variable speed of wind,
the fixed speed of light, or

the meaningless black curve
that mimics imperfectly the interstate
in red, our heart of particles.