New York City skyline at night




Cynthia Atkins


I always get it wrong, the timing—
like a focus group gone awry.No stopping
this manifest grind. Tonight, my corner
of the self needs tending, your undivided
attention—Fresh coffee resins at 2 am!
O Busy hum of daily living—
Bills to pay, picture books
to put away.It's a full moon, the knights
are laying their swords down (after bath-time).
Dirty fingernails will be squeaked clean
as rubber ducks. Now, all my ghosts nudge me
to miss you—Though you're right here,
washing the cups, wiping down the canisters.
Going rogue, the chromosomes never
look back—I remember that part of myself
falling into a cab, out of bad weather.
My apartment was a sad car horn,
honking for no one. In this life,
there are train wrecks, bulging jungles,
dinosaurs parading on all the carpets.
Is the primitive kiss sent to our son in sleep,
the preface to a book, or the broken
chain-letter to history?—Whole kingdoms
stationedto collapse.My body
looks for refuge. Long barge at the entrepot
of desire—Then you'll arrive with
all the right supplies. For an hour,
the dragons will threaten only
the rooms where our loved ones
have just left—Their pains hidden
deep as a soldier's invisible wounds.



It isn't easy being me,
breathless and hell bent
on rhapsody—My heartfelt sorrow
on the radio is backlit and infectious,
the way music makes our heads turn
to find our partners—Otherwise,
we dance alone. It's just as well.
My voices often speak
at the same time. Needless to say,
This has consequence.
I'm an old-fashioned
hard candy, I don't dissolve
evenly—How large my want is,
how small. I talked myself into this.
I'm just an inch shy
of imploding—Ten thousand
pieces sprouting the self's
confetti across the wide sky.
I was a necessary justification,
but slim as a bar-code.
I am a mass disappearance.
From the earth, I'm blinking
at the insects scrawled legibly
across the lawn. I'm a morsel
here to become something more
than I am. I'm the lozenge, buttering
up the tongue—sharp as a cat's claw.
The quick hand of childhood
saw me to the door.
So pardon me if I forgot
why I came. A slow pen
in the palm of my hand.
Let me bend your inner
ear, because even this paper
needs body-weight—heft, the dent,
the fleck of having been here—
if only, in the smallest sense.



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