john deming



                      then in your muscles,
  the honking geese and the wind,
  the unit of a universe
  with no before or after,
  where circles of decades
  are counted by what
  can count. Regardless,
  you return, subsumed
  by the world of named
  things. There’s also
  the attempt to rejoice
  in what’s empty: in
  the night, air between trees.
  Tried that, but stopped
  short each time. Air
  is molecular, it’s all
  substance. Atmosphere
  an ocean for bottom-dwelling
  humans. Wind nudging
  branch—not the blank
  reading the real, but
  a grinding among the substantial.
  Such incalculable grinding
  destroys, then reconditions.
  Old cities buried. Much
  of the world is already destroyed,
  and still nothing is empty:


  civilization was sensible
  and terrifying. Nature
  regarded it as little as it
  regarded its human lives,
  which were always snuffed
  out before the next thing
  there was to do. So now
  the cities I’ve lived in
  are buried. The places
  I’ve never seen? Buried,
  their histories self-contained
  and entirely absent. Why
  hold facts?—better to be
  the absent-minded duck shot
  full of holes, socked from flight


  to look in any direction, compose

  order, and look in another direction
  becomes flux. Moment there are
  no more human eyes, no one’s here
  to see all the redressing, which wouldn’t
  be an evil thing: maybe a sad one,
  having missed the chance to report
  all you’ve seen. I noticed twelve
  ceiling lights went like this: four
  yellow, six green, two more yellow
  down the center of the bus. It was
  two years ago, and it was black
  outside, passing through Brooklyn,
  Hartford, and Boston,  where I arrived
  around 11 p.m. at North  Station,
  where I was to catch a train, and
  which shared space with the city’s
  largest arena, host that night to
  a Rolling Stones show. The crowd
  disgorged as I waited for the train.
  Glasses, hair loss, sneakers: grapes of
  looks and faces we had!—boarding


                             it’s the perfect hourglass: now for it, a dress?
  You step into a room,
  there’s an equation spilled
  up down and across
  the wall. Anything
  presenting itself as complex
  is daunting, but makes sense
  once it makes sense.
  thick with salt and vegetation,
  crawlers, villas of coral.
  Ideas you’ve had and lost.
  The blackest regions
  of the sea, those that haven’t
  been explored, are not
  beautiful, not yet. And
  the sky’s even more
  trouble than the sea—
  more massive darkness,
  more sparkling salt.
  Any question, then,
  why we’re so frightened
  of matters such as our cosmic smallness?
  A clear view of the stars
  suffices for a moment—
  each speck scattered with a code of its own.
  Before time is a problem
  and people keep dying anyway


                              as kids, my brother  Jim and I
  had to wheel our dishwasher
  across the kitchen and connect
  it to the sink with a plastic
  something of hoses and tubes.
  Hoses and tubes. The benefit
  of cleaning is knowing that
  no matter what, you’re doing
  the right thing. I should like
  very much to recall the details
  of cupboards and appliances
  I’ve had in various homes. How
  dull. To open my current dish-
  washer, I push through a strange
  flap with my four unopposable
  digits and pull an easy handle.
  My last dishwasher didn’t
  operate as such, so like any
  routine, however mindless, this
  is one I backed into. But it’s
  you and only you attempting
  memory at the various forms
  of muscle memory you develop,
  then lose simply because you relocate.
  Still, memories ruin and compete.
  They interrupt each other. It’s
  said eight homes in the last twelve
  years. There are reasons to stay
  one place a long time. Muscles and bone

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john deming was raised in New Hampshire but currently lives in New  York  City. He is
an editor of Coldfront Magazine.




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