Monday, April 4, 2011

The Outer Banks

You could say that characters in The Bible were obsessed with hiding their nakedness

I touch the leg of the table with the toe of my foot

The child searches in a drawer for the damaged toy

Feelings of love were impaired by excessive anxiety

I put in my order with the butcher before it gets too late & the holidays are "upon us" or so they say

You can wear the same clothing every day & no one cares

She complains that she spends too much time making herself beautiful while he just picks up the clothing he wore yesterday from the floor & doesn't even bother washing his face or combing his hair

I hear a rooster cry at dawn from someone's roof

I experience an epiphany, I'm not what you might call handy

There's a dead seal on the beach & a fishing boat on the horizon

The guy downstairs complains about a leak when I take a shower

Some people don't mind if you take them for granted

She can't break up with her boyfriend until she knows she has another waiting in the wings

It's hard to love anyone who holds a grudge

I wear my compromises over my mask

My deficiencies won't add up, no ice to drink

The shades of night toss their dilapidated forms over my shoulders like a Ukrainian shawl

Women with kerchiefs, a family with a stroller, her equestrian thoughts ride into the sunset

Think of A's love for B in terms of the needs of A for whom B provides the promise of immediate gratification

The sun goes down in my mirror where I address myself not as "I" but as a you who exists outside me & can't think

I thought I'd take time out from my work to make a call but as soon as I heard her voice I hung up

A 16-year old student has been charged as an adult with attempted murder & unlawful use of a weapon in the shooting of a teacher who ordered him to stop smoking

Seek out a stranger to alleviate desire but don't call her back--she might be "busy tonight"

It seems like you might as well have a drink to loosen you up

In the summer of 1964 I lived in a bungalow in Far Rockaway with my girlfriend, her father & her baby

"She's not here now--she's never here--who should I say called?"

It strikes me: it strikes me that I repeat everything twice in my life, & keep repeating, without acknowledging my mistakes

Some people keep love at a distance because they're frightened of being hurt but it's hard to be on the outside looking in at your own life or perpetually standing on the edge of things with no where to go

We thought the matinee began at 3 but when we arrived it was intermission

People meet on a blind date & eventually get married for the sake of discretion ("my parents wanted me to")

You find out what interests you, but don't do it--not yet, anyway--since it's more interesting to put it all off till tomorrow, to let things slide, to trap the thought in its beauty like a tiger in a cage & watch it climb the walls & disfigure itself out of sheer helplessness

You map out a theory of knowledge & watch it dissolve like an integer divided by itself, but turned on their sides the numbers look like songs

You pretend to work hard so others will leave you alone

You talk to strangers & megalomaniacs, you read books you read before

You prefer pieces of paper with words on them to people, but that phase passes

You identify with the tree outside your window: all my family makes a home here but the branches are obscure, even to me

You sing a judicious symphony like a necklace of amber beads

A half-dressed man leans out the window & shouts to his girlfriend on the sidewalk

A police car with a loud speaker announces a reward for any information leading to the arrest & conviction of a person who shot a policeman

I was working in the library at Columbia University & we met during my lunch hour on the steps of Grant's Tomb

Tumblers on the tray bisect the light of the immigrant wafer which we place on the tongue to taste the snow, the rain & the spray from which yonder fountain alights on our faces

There's a bracelet close to her skin that resembles ivy but if I touch it I fear my heart might grow numb

The specialty of the house wasn't on the menu but you could request it from the waiter, waitress or maitre d' who would bow down & kiss your knees out of a desire to give pleasure

Love is no solution to fear, the touch of a hand in the dark, nor the flowers, nor the beating of the wings against the screen

A job that represses your sexual instincts may be just what you need

"Don't wait up for me" is something I might have said but when I returned the bed was a talisman of crumbs & plaster

They say there was a lot of rain & possible flooding before we came: they tell us we brought the bad weather with us

Tell us what remains of desire, as you know it

All the swings in the park are taken, all the benches broken, let's sit here

There's a jail across the border where they'll take us when we get out of hand & from which we can see the evening star, a symbol of the persistence of desire

All they can do is torture us, behold us in wonder at our beauty, desiring to subjugate us because we're so unlike them in our sweet ways, & even our most muddled intuitions are wiser than the vows of militancy they concoct

I go to the prison of the practical world to take care of business

I look up my name in the index but it isn't listed

She was born & died before my time but if she were alive today we might have been pals

Bodies intermingle in a subway car--I stare covertly at legs, arms, eyes

I collect the wood & light the coals, but the wood is wet & I have to use a whole box of blue tips just to keep it going

I plant the symbol of order, Neptune's trident, on the opposite side of the archipelago & set forth under warm skies to a new terrain, spellbound by the possibilities of the future & the shadows of the strange birds hanging motionless on the horizon, but I don't know the name of the boat I'm aboard--it's like a shadow of some other boat that went down in the storm off the Isle of Good Hope, where promises of love were made only to be broken the next day, where marriage vows were spoken in the shadows of an empty cathedral, where friends & relatives gathered to wish you well--could anyone of them, or you, predict this spell of cold weather we've been having recently?

All the objects in the world won't unlock the door to the present where daylight strips us of night's desire & a voice riding the airwaves whispers into the fog: Don't lose heart

When I close my eyes I can see the after-image of the light of the candle like the face in a dream, you are my shadow


-Lewis Warsh