I’ve built cities in my brain,
cities that no one would recognize.
I’ve danced around Dublin with Dedalus and Bloom,
but no Dubliner would recognize his fair city
from my mental projection.
It doesn’t matter how masterful Joyce is in his description.
I’ve only visited the version that I tossed up in my mind
as I tore through his poetry,
and which was torn down in the wake of my reading.
And yet I treasure that false metropolis.
It’ll do — for now.
The tender end of a creeper —
whip thin, light-green, and curling —
cantilevers itself across a chasm,
reaching toward our balustrade.
It pretends to be blown by wind,
but it’s just using the gusts
to lazily set its hook.
It will colonize our balcony,
if it’s given half a chance;
it will weave out our windows —
blocking out the sun
by the time we return from holiday.
It may work slowly,
but it’s more clever than you know.
People are intrigued by those shows &
books about the world “after humans.”
We show amazement at the projections
of how quickly nature will reclaim “our space,”
but shouldn’t we be the last to be surprised?
when time died
we were frozen
— blocks of inaction
no one would ever know
no light traveled to eyes
no vibrating air entered ears
no bioelectricity zipped down neurons
no cells broke down and died
no memories were formed
no tick-tock of clocks
no clip-clop of hooves
nothing moved or witnessed
everything did nothing
never was everywhere
the day time died
waking in a train car
at the rail yard
slouched in the darkness —
but not pure darkness
because the lights are always on at the railyard
and the pale light shines in at strange angles
slapping the window makes your palm hurt,
bruising the bone of your thumb,
but gets you no closer to being free
trying to wedge your fingers between
the rubber ends of the sliding door panels
the door doesn’t give way — weakly —
as it does when a running rider
slips a hand in at the last second during rush hour
nothing to do but to try to go back to sleep
but your mind races with what you’ll say
how it’s “a funny story”
indignantly, “isn’t someone supposed to check each car?”
of course, they are, and they did,
but the driver, eager to get home,
just peeked through window into that last car
and didn’t see the person huddled
in the backward-facing first row of that last car
mind-racing, and butt feeling the hard seats
you can’t fall asleep,
and you wonder how you ever did
but, eventually, you do
you wake in the train car
still at the railyard
but without the darkness
because a bright light shines in your face
as someone says,
“What are you doing here?”