That daylight should be daylight so utterly
as, in the ten-million storefronts of my country,
clerks adjust the latest fashions on mannequins,
and here illegals wear boards on their knees
to level concrete outside an investment firm’s offices,
volcanic, curdled earth, at the entrance
of the building from which I nightly am disgorged
means the memoranda of America insist
chronic tardiness will jeopardize your position on the a.m. shift,
but maybe we’re living in a demonstration model home,
light through the skylight fetched in by light bulb.
Maybe every day’s Saturday. Maybe it’s Sunday.
A recording somewhere plays the cough
of a dog’s bark and friends in the next room.
Maybe it’s play food in the unplugged refrigerator
in my country, where the water tastes like somebody’s mouth,
where I can’t keep count of what I’m angry at
and lie down like any animal, in some dark place to sleep.


Implore the night clerk: “We want to have been exalted,
not grow bald in small rooms, hairstyles on the women
naked in our same few magazines increasingly unfashionable.
We heat our meals in this hotel and swallow every forkful.
If doorways weren’t open coffins and mirrors
didn’t injure, room numbers all day descend to zero,
if window shades weren’t see-through and air
an X-ray exposing each successive skeleton
and its dress of flesh, if eyes weren’t clear
as liquor and liquor didn’t twitch…” The night clerk
flinches, Eviction tattooed on each scarred wrist.


Snowballs iceballs, I demand to be paid here on in with oversize prize checks,
my name silvery and glittering, surface area and dollar amounts so large
I bungee-cord lash them to each week’s brand-new roof rack, manhandle
monetary instruments drive-through window huge, lift across bank parking lots,
spun this way and that in the trillionaire wind. Jaw-droppingly rich,
the children construct lean-tos and rafts, kites rising miles,
or luge and toboggan, ink a precious-metal sheen smearing wintry hills.



After the usual traffic
of ground, then guy-wires, power-lines
and skillet-fried clouds
was me, looking distant
as suspended Houdini
baffling crowds,
visible only by the trajectory
of necks craned en masse
How small I was
and wrong
like the extra letter
in one word


aaron anstett's recent work appears in Cranky and Word For/Word as well as the anthologies Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel and Digerati: 20 Contemporary Poets in the Virtual World. His second collection, No Accident, was selected by Philip Levine for the 2004 Backwaters Press Prize.