the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Carl Rosenstock

Pascal’s Paradox

  --Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point

Some time caught blind in an instant
I want to feel your arms around my neck
Heart beats against       again the rhythm
Of your breaths     No less     A moment

A late evening sidewalk recently stained by rain
Reflects street light while the passersby remain
Indifferent       All I hear is the whisper still
In your throat      Startled a flock of words

Take flight       One night without logic
Or stammered demands of greed
Only the current between bodies close
The play of light on the dark pavement



My baby reads psalms on her way to work
The train is crowded and Psalms fits
the palm of her hand       I watch her out of
the corner of my eye not wanting her
to know I see her in that moment

My baby reads psalms on her way to work
She says it gives her calm       I long for her
faith in holy words       I hold words
whole but read what’s at hand       a history
of the wind       ads overhead       a magazine

My baby reads psalms on her way to work
She says it calms her the way the words
sing belief and I believe her       Still
I read what comes my way       the news
over someone else’s shoulder


Report of the Adjustor (2)

I read all day — it’s what I do
For a living — for the living,
This sifting evidence of lives in shatter —
No matter what I do, it matters now
And to them. I read slowly, scanning
For words and numbers, skimming others,
Wary always I might miss something.

I read slowly now, everything I read,
Struggle with every sentence I write
To report what I’ve read, to find
The narrative that will bind
Random, seeming isolated, findings,
Wondering the while whether what-
Ever will cause it all to slip awry.


Report of the Adjustor

… I investigate the scenes.
Always on the periphery: gathering data.
Reports to be prepared, assessments
Of damage to be submitted to the proper office.
I specialize in trauma : the fractured bone,
Ruptured spleen, the insult
To the brain. In this, I avoid direct

Involvement with metal-on-metal against flesh.
Such distance here is necessary: established
Diagnosis being greater than blame
Assigned to any individual involved. Others
May, of course, apply palliative measures.
(There is no cure for that
Which is accomplished.) To be sure, I myself

Have nothing to offer, no personal
Anecdote to provide a guideline. My life —
Marked out by each accident, followed
By the inevitable. In sum, I offer
Others’ lives to those who require
Such information. I have, only since
Being engaged, learned their language.



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