Five in the morning, I’m out for the count.
It feels like a year
Since last night. I hear some random guy shout,
“This is my city!” on the street. A strange fear
Has taken hold: when will I feel
This much grace, a real
Sense of being together? Every train
Was waiting at the station, in a light rain,
Like in a movie. (A girl wails
Into her phone: “There are so many walls—
How do I get out of here?”)
A good question. I felt for her.
At the bar, everyone would raise a drink
To regret and shame. No time to think
Of what comes next. Kick a path through piles of confetti
And keep going. It was getting
Hard to breathe in a blur of masks and noise—
Lots of paisley, glittery blazers, onesies
Of bunnies, shirtless bartenders and happy zombies—
Where boys are girls, and girls boys.
Look, every year is a mix
Of ugly and pretty, you have to do some mental tricks
To make it work. Take a pill
For godsake. Pretend it’s all fine. I’ll
Put on Prince, for example, grab a glass of Proseco
With friends. There’ll be sweaters, snacks,
A comfy couch. Everyone will nod and smile, let go of ego
For once. It’s been a rough year, relax.
Let’s say everything you’ve ever known—
The things that hold you, the way contacts on a phone
Stick to who you are, or how a bus
Delivers you beneath the bridge’s black trusses
At day’s end, the distant lights
Blinking red through the rain—let’s say the rights
To your whole past
Are in danger of being usurped, misplaced.
You simply refuse to believe it’s possible.
Whatever happens, you think, you’ll
Find a way to keep your emotional-DNA intact.
When others argue a fact
That counters what your gut knows, you’re unfazed,
As if they’re speaking a different language. What is it they’re saying? It’s so hard to gauge.
Are they even words? Dazed,
You drift through the nights in an altered zone
Of your own making, your own
Personal bubble—through a bluish mist
Of cigarette smoke, some sips of cognac, an almost-tryst
Or two. Sigh. You find yourself alone.
The house is empty. Somewhere in the distance, a lone
Dog is barking. You can hear the keen
Whine of a chainsaw, cutting away what’s left. (Scene.)
Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Journals in which his poems have appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999). Gary recommends Indivisible.