To obsess

The only time I saw him he 
was onstage or driving the bus
He kept to himself, pretty much
Metabolism, adaptation,
reproduction—the markers
of life—from an obsessive, cold,
volumeless, vacuum to us 

“Integrity” said the sage,
“belongs to the man and not
his profession” and sometimes
an ugliness of character, like in an
obvious 19th century melodrama
is portrayed in the wrinkled ugliness
of an unapologetic, oily old man

To obsess with the other 
you must yield yourself
It’s because you love her
Our inner personage is free
as our bodies are chained as
we engage with little pieces of 
the world, like an ant who 

can’t see the whole elephant,
like an elegant courtier who, 
despite all his finery, still sits
like you and me on his arse,
like a crass animal who farts
Yes, you were important 
and rich enough to be painted

But perhaps you didn’t pay the
bill and the artist never told us
your name and even if he did, no
one now knows who you were
False redeemers, false masks
because she’ll pick a clown to
be with if he makes her laugh

Once I nearly drowned 
in the ocean, literally, just  
a child, and they pulled me out 
Oh the gradations of grey as
the waters drag me down,
my center of gravity within 
myself, so drawn, helpless, down 

It’s singing in my mind—
the stakes are high, 
all alliances temporary,
all transactions unique
in this maze of earthly
happiness, in a spiritual 
exile, in a city of multi-

ethnic islands where we 
sit around and talk each
in our various dialects, like
music rooted in the past
She’s my light so sweet 
I worry too much and my 
daughters don’t worry enough

A violent, fervent, stupid blast
whose model isn’t the moment 
plunged us into our work to
drown out the ominous, our  
consciousness the surface,
the obvious, the crust
not the flame, the fiction 

not the depth like two 
emphatic lovers who play
at life’s meaning in order to 
live, placed on this earth to use
ourselves up where the air blows
our flares, where our two 
obsessive torches live  

-July 13, 2019-