Within this riveted Babylon, a glib
superstructure that keeps the summer
fire inside, a mute vibration passes
——————me, a secondhand
ticking by the door; you, a lunatic
whose arms throw semaphore out
on the floor.
Don’t you get tired of the way
you dance by yourself? The way
your hips unhinge and come apart,
waxing and waning like an inner
tube. Your teeth remain zippered
to a silver curve.
—————— Tensed and static,
I cross the floor worn by alien
feet, tincans, empty shells, garbage.
Hear the shrill of glass and steel
horns crowding toward us—
I am afraid to touch you; I lean
behind you, mouth near your spine.
We’re stepping on the cracks
in the cement; detonated red
bombs, explosions of gold,
crimson and yellow, surround
as though in a telescope, star-
spangled with radiant suns.
You get tired one twist further:
there is a faint pop, a sizzle.
A blunt groping, I get up,
extend my feet, prowl and slink
into crystal darkness.
Your disjointed body is jagged
as a plane crash, scrapped
and littered on the ground.
We’re no uncalloused
and armourless mammals;
shiny illustrations so real
you can almost touch
the ennui of being here.
Cento from Margaret Atwood’s Selected Poems: 1965-1975
hails from South Bend, Indiana. He received his BA in Creative Writing from Loyola University Chicago and remained in the Second City since. His work has been performed by VOX3, a Chicago opera troupe, and has also appeared in various journals, including the Q Review and Handful of Dust. He is currently pursuing an MFA from Northwestern University.