_ash me

“the shadow of white Death (…) and at the door, Invisible Corruption…”
– John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer

1. stayed up half the night watch a still of her face the light poured off firelight tawny

even now i shake recall the nightlong her eyes mine not meeting

every hour get up stagger the room advance the film one frame
lay back wait in vain for her to live

day slow rise over Black Mtn.

starve the week haunt this house gray the former tenant did the same until they took him
it is this place it is all places when failed men wash ashore and blear over toast tv dinners in shirtsleeves anger moan

2. oh i thought i’d write all day but Dos Passos and heartbreak, finally, a deli sandwich not wanting to rest and think about how horridly alone

afternoon runs down my leg into my shoe cold

i want to go over to John McGregor’s and write down all his titles

on the verge of madness unsure go out into dusk running or remain forlorno dribbling shit onto a notepad

she must have received the poem by now (“Winter Song of Yearning”) she must have

i don’t care
i don’t care
i don’t care
(yes you do)

out over the city scuddy clouds begin sponges to fill with light

i feel i might kill myself so the unending unmeaning cycles cease:
up at dawn stretch and clothes in thick blue diffusive light
down to the basement robot the multiple tropic suns–empty fill add check
up onto the high streets jog speedwalk worry heartattack
down to the cafe frantic for a word from HER nothing always nothing
complete puritan nothing grows cover everything salt ash
driving the city silent mutter old man already
home again furtively listen for cops thugs lie abed
dribblng shit onto a notepad

yeah i could hang myself who would know just think of the rest:
my agenda—wide open

3. maybe this very moment
she’s climbing on a bus
slush-brown greyhound
the Vancouver-Okanagan
already out by Chilliwack
(“…gone so long…”)
or onto the flat expanse of the brown Frazer

be she’s sleeping
as the bus climbs the Coke
droning in third or second gear
maybe she’s awake
watching the lights of Westbank
red and white on the hill
“Jeez,” she thinks,
“back here again,”
on the bridge over to downtown
thinkng it was all a mistake
maybe she’s crying

when the bus stops at Kelowna station
she waits until the crowd departs
approaches the driver
“Is this bus returning to Vancouver?”
and it isn’t
until she realizes
she hasn’t the fare
then she calls me

i recall, at last,
why i could never love her.
fuck this life
i don’t care
i don’t care
i don’t
(yes. you do.)


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