the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




John Minczeski

A Life of Zero

— a drawing by Lenardi

He put all these zeros in a conga line,
one indefinite number after another

leaning forward, marching to the lip
of the great abyss and going over

like perfect role models.
How else pin nothing down?

Black holes ready to suck in
terrorists and innocent alike;

empty coffee cups; beach balls
with no punctuation rolling toward infinity.

Here's the moment sleep arrives,
like eggs on a conveyor belt,

hung on a wall in my friend's flat in Rome.
These are the visible zeros

that go all the way back
to the sound of one hand,

then no hands — zero gravity,
where nothing continues to happen.

— for Topazia Alliata


This Zero

Rime furred the day's twigs and branches,
the sun crystallizing the scene.
The world, having succumbed

to the moment's whiteness,
went insane. This is what happens
when you weather January.

River bluffs, glowing
under the structure of trees,
transported me. Could I still

speak English? Was I younger?
I thought Rome. I thought New York.
I didn't think This is my body

behind a delivery truck at a red light.
The weather dial
reset itself to zero. Afternoon slipped

toward evening. The dream
of unwashed celery was reabsorbed
into other dream bubbles —

there was no other world.



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