Geoffrey G. O'Brien

So. I had each day

To draw from the hum

Of foreground and back

At least one pseudonym

Not yet under

Obligation to assist

In these what were they

Called developments.

Beginning in other

Words to concede the way

Pink clouds stop

Fielding the ambitions

Dawn imposed on them.

I was lucky enough

To rent an impossible

Uninhabitable box

That even unopened

Allowed me to pursue

The faintest consolation,

Sunlight coming from

A closet, thin glow

At the edges of its door,

Laughter of the child

Downstairs or outside

Coming home as one

So desperately frequently

Is wont to do.

As for your question,

No, it’s still a dream

From here, lying across

What earth sends up

Every other hour

From coverts undetectable

To the clothed eye.

Yet somehow here

Like the magic in habit

Or affections renewed

Deep in the bass line

That gets so much

Closer to what it refuses

To name the more it avoids

Explicit mention.

I mean a sound full

Of knowing in advance

The everydayification of life,

Its emotional workclothes,

A jetlagged labor

Stumbling from the gate

With the gifts and thefts

That are its brothers

Playing at being

Real. And having gotten

To their apt destination

The royal stillness of

These misplaced things

Sets up steady

Evidence of former motion—

They got here somehow

Through a parable

tension in the air.

Then one note more

A complaint from a string

Backed suddenly by

Others, all of them,

The world as companion

To joy, and anything else

That should but doesn’t

Arrive, the bulk of a ruin

Plowing through dusk

As if in downiness.

That end of day

When pink is understood

Both to be and to have

Come back, like laughing

At ambition. An un-

Controlled burn. Gardens

Specializing in the half

Lives of assurances.

And the dust that passes

For benign or tinted air

But is much less

Pattern than mask.

Dawn too. They aren’t

So far from each other

Harmony’s impossible.

In the long view

They even appear to meet

In a coloration, those parts

Of the spectrum that can

Temporarily enrage

With order then submit

Peacefully to it. As for

Your other question:

It’s mostly sirens

That form what

The accompaniment is.

Geoffrey G. O'Brien is the author, most recently, of Experience in Groups. He works as a Professor of English at UC Berkeley.
Originally published:
June 10, 2024


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