Caution in the Windy City, Thrown

By SEBASTIAN MATTHEWS

It was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down.

—Emily Dickinson

Late
last night
[on way back
from hotel]

I walked
into the mouth
of a long empty alley

full of dark liminalities—

doorways,         a row
of giant garage doors
(dragon’s teeth)

& a single cinematic
loading dock
laid out
in a long shadow of lawn

—Okay, I was a a little drunk
& stiff from a day
crammed with pushing thru

an ever-shifting threshold
of pain—

[walking between cars
on a barreling train]

—& so was belligerent
about my life
I can walk
thru the valley of death
if I want to

& I will, thank you

(don’t worry
nothing
came of it, no shadows

assembling themselves,
chaos’ intimates,
into puppet visage—wolf thief

spot-lit by the moon,
murderous goon

popping up,
switchblade)

Why chance it?
I think I needed that
brand of risk—now
—here,
inside the endless present:

expectancy a kind of held-breath bravado,

a ready-for-anything-
bring it on, baby,

kind of interiority

—“infinitude confined”
within the body’s
fuse box,
its bank of sparks
& shadows;

Needed that runway
of primordial fear,
diurnal strut, its allegorical
blind alley,

SOMETHING to parade
my badass broken self along,
stomping with brittle feet
thru shards of what ifs &
you’re in the wrong place,
brother, at the right time
blues

Was I asking for trouble?
You tell me.
Maybe a wish
to be wiped clean again
—rebooted
but not undone.
I don’t know.

Just that
into that gap
I had to go
tightrope walking

[all the stations]

of danger’s church,
taking risk
a kind of prayer.

How, for those few
unparceled         moments
I was…

let’s just say
I disappeared
into a dream rut
full of bitter disasters

[came out safe
& clean
like a washed car]

& a little less drunk
tho turned around
so that the hotel could
be any which way

—“there is something
that worries us about solitude”—

& the umapped grid
a vast maze in which
to lose oneself

the elevated train
rattling above
& the cement under my feet
singing
[chorus after chorus]

my unlucky
& inevitable
demise.

 

for Ross

Caution in the Windy City, Thrown

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