The queries of our age demand to know
much more than we will ever know or admit
even to ourselves. Our beleaguered figures
on display, curios of these corridors, inspire probing.
Invasion comes without explanation. Off the charts.
Our images chronicle calcified fractures of the past,
record the minimalist chatter of present
now drained of remembrance and aspiration.
Pressed between rock and hard place, airless
and indisposed like miners trapped in a cave,
we are seized from all sides by suffocation
and tightening chests. Each day it gets harder
to breathe, to hold on, to let go. We get by on doses
of false anecdotes vowing a miraculous cure.
Nights in the dark, the exit sign
draws rapt attention to itself,
commanding egress by the back door.
Background noise like Muzak from hidden speakers
strains on. Variations on a dirge of rest and peace
meant to sooth agitate instead when ghostly hosts
the notes evoke inject more dysfunction
into all the routine we forget.
Familiars no longer familiar fail to restore recollection
or draw a glimmer of solace from the cameo smile
we must feign as faint shield
from lingering expectancies and age-old pain.
This cadence of blank verse
cannot sustain the sputter
of an ancient clock as it unwinds.
All alarms are ringing.
The purple heart’s gears throb in retreat.
The barometer fails to gauge our blood’s impulse stuck in reverse.
And holiness nostrums oversell the wonders
of other-world bounties
held past the expiration of warranties.
The downward spiral of things.
Life surges earthbound to the pull of gravity,
rolling like a tide drawn by a droll face of the moon,
receding between ebb and more ebb.
The posture of our spines
works past overload these days.
Its arc bows under time’s duress
beneath leveling blows
curled like the hump
of a question mark that asks
at the end of each line
what should be done
about the longevity of a sentence
served inside a bell curve
where no way out unlocks
and the down slope runs on
and on and drags a long tail
like a relict beast.