Joshua Marie Wilkinson
I Had An Upsetting Dream
And here even dreams are like
a network of tendons.
(tr. Sarah Valentine)
Here, meaning the carried-through
elsewhere swallowed whole by death?
Jesus, that’s grim enough. The little sun up there
hurling itself at us through the clouds.
I shake my dick to get the urine out of me
sit down to tea, appalled at my stupid
imagination. Whatever’s beyond incongruence.
It’s not a maze or a riddle, it’s like
a network of tendons.
Then the dream where
I’m fucking my
brother. Just like that.
There’s nothing to share of it, other
than the blunt fact of its transmission
behind my moving eyes.
Stunned in the night
by what I’m made capable of seeing.
But zilch for eros, and thank god.
If only I could explain it away
in smart couplets, or a rape joke.
But it was an act. As unreal
as anything true.
Like biting into an apple.
Diving into a lake at night.
Pulling a candle out of a birthday cake.
So, what are you doing here?
What have you come to find out about yourself
in my privacy?
Certain things should not be
shared with strangers.
But we are not strangers anymore.
You knew that already.
What else did you not realize
you knew before you began?
The Night Was Curiously Mild
Feeling the nausea rising, he ran out into the courtyard and vomited on a
dwarf palm tree. The night was curiously mild. —Michel Houellebecq
Yet where have I been
since the last time I did more
or less the same thing?
A few places, basically.
Sick and alive.
Putrid, glowing, reacquainting
myself with that regal stench.
Slow to get upright in the morning,
hesitating, too, to do anything
like braking late in the muddy evening
when the dark is just getting good on me.
What belongs to you?
Evidently, not your name either.
Not even the bad music or
loud bad music you’ve been hoping
to avoid. You have only
to shut up and laugh.
It’s that or die.
Like it’s an either/or.
Like you had choice to begin with.
By which I must mean
Before you know it
Whoever you came with is asleep.
And the curtain’s smothered the cast.
You’re a bad liar, you know that?
I can tell by the words you’ve selected.
Even your mouth doesn’t believe them.
Everything is Poised
Everything is poised between readiness and decay.
Or between a stately wish to outdo
and merely crumpling in on yourself,
that’s the feeling I get, standing out here,
as traffic sucks by. The gravitational pull
the unyielding daydream of unconsummated
but nearly touchable desire.
Out here in the street, under the new bad lights
the city has installed to keep our eyes
patrolling each other.
What sort of visions are you able to have
when you revive from dreaming?
What did you learn from the dead you spoke with?
Whose voices have you decided to leave in the past
and how did you pull such an
inhumane feat off on yourself?
It’s not all that easy to forget death. To linger in
the moonlight under a lamppost like an advertisement
for something alluring.
Stub out the cigarettes in the sink. Take the phone off
the hook and leave it. Ha ha, the hook. Get it?
Day After New Year's Day
When the light came
free from its source we were
left in a kind of wet blackness
and the sounds—footfall
or bored chatter from the aluminum
steps of the stairwell
a mewling stray cat that had gotten
itself locked inside the entry—
soaked into everything.
It was snowing.
The snow was stacking up onto
vehicles and signs, except the street where
it seemed to just melt in the gleaming grit
of the asphalt.
The phones rang upstairs.
The partygoers slipped by below the windows
in the wrong shoes under an umbrella, flapping.
The smell of chlorine from the ventilated steam
of the public pool pushed out and I handed your cigarette
back to you, unlit.
Death’s not an invitation. It’s just the better part of desire.
No, it’s just…
Fuck it. I want to go back down. I want
the lowest thing available to memory. I want,
I suppose, to go back in time. And I’m told
that this remains quote-unquote impossible.
It'll Get Worse Before it Gets Worse
The black heart of the moon’s visible
through the trees from here.
Where are you?
I’m alone on the road
with a dead phone.
The birds are flapping overhead
but there’s not much light to be guided by.
If any horizon becomes visible enough to follow.
Forget the rain’s smear,
the chafe of fabric at the calf.
The money ran out. The diners are stuffed
and back for more.
Each terrible thing I said to the child
will get repeated hopefully as a joke.
And like language, these gestures, or a certain way of nodding
one’s head, it all eases in with less than a breath.
Forget the song’s words, the order of the band’s set tonight.
The black moon’s heart’s
got that sinister bent
and I want to get
touched at by the snakes.
One of the students in my class
used to go bear hunting with his two uncles.
They played recordings of distressed animals
to lure in tentative animals to kill.
This practice is illegal in many places.
Because it’s so very effective.
I split open the apple
and hand the good half to a child on the bus
nestled in under the arm of her sleeping mother.
Love from here is a long way to go.
Get on your bike and ride
through the lights.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of Meadow Slasher (Black Ocean 2017) and other things.