English Basement


Here I am walking down State Street
inside the inside inside the center
sliding on the night's ice in my boots
then in my room and then in the center of
the locked door and the other door locked
this door locked, window locked, roommate
away for the weekend, but still the shine
of the shade of weeks to come the promise
in these minutes will close flat as what
in the minutes is their beating drum

When you visit me I'm so sure something bad
will happen I rarely go outside no I don't
get it, I don't get it, I see a bug or a cat or a piece
of string, so don't watch, he'd say and the weeks
would pass but I don't want to see the end
though it never offered any accident
this week, the week before next week,
anything but the present trembling in its minute

The weeks are fast, the minutes
slow good weather huddling
in the settled terror
at the center of the cold
you tell me things I already know

My window is a well in the ground today
a force I know a lot about in my closet
threw a woodchip against the window on its door
and the rod and the woodchip fell to the cement
white on top but raw underneath
the sound was the worst tick of the minute

Secret as a cat's belly the doors are open:
why do little things happen?

Open always to the fleshes inside themselves
folded over each other's inside walls the clothes
hang through the air undergoing, under, out of town
the trees are spaced out over blocks,
the room's empty space not filling up inside
the inside there's no way to get inside

Long, boring walks in the arboretum
the outside presses its space on like
pulling off a cover when it starts to get warmer
the smallness of the outside
in weeks, slow in the human-seeming minutes,
not enough in it to cover all that space
edging up to the edge of the outside

The arboretum fills with people, evenly spaced.
I'm sure something bad is about to happen. Caught,

it hangs over next week mid-something
every time a second turns over the weight
of their bottoms keep them inside the sense
of a greater order, a terrible future
where they're sure to stay inside

This is only pervading.
Some flowers' names. A television
show of me living is this and we are
at the edge of the outside.
Death sits in the long stalks of grass.
The minute ticks deliberate then is gone.