Poems

An incompetent misunderstanding of time

I’m better off writing this poem tomorrow
during the solstice when days are balanced
like the teenage June I spent driving
through the same swarm of gnats
that congregate over dirt roads to nowhere,
past the same herd of deer,
so tranquil and ever present I assumed they were dead,
stuffed and set out for eternity to frustrate
hunters and lions with no land rights,

but I knew they were alive
because I was.
And what was the harm of wasting time driving?
I had it trapped and sitting in the bed of my truck,
time, waiting to be set free and spill about
the dust covered coulee like cleansing frost
or pungent sagebrush,

like liquor on ice in a humid sunset,
the kind of sunset that people lock in cages
with cameras and paint,
the beautiful kind made from summer death
and asphyxiating heat that was always there, lurking behind
abandoned houses and under old tires, even in the winter
when heat is supposed to be playing cards with
its grandmother in Santa Fe.

I hope that I find it,
the right hour, the right second
to begin, for without it I am
benign.

But for now, I will just write a single phrase—
“loneliness without time to understand.”
to leave in a drawer to remind a future self of this
task I’ve promised a now older self to complete,
and I will stay rooted in discerning paralysis.
It is comfortable here—
death or inspiration will come
soon enough.

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