Poeming

In the Control Room

At dawn the fountain is empty
and the leaves blowse across its bowl
in rolling bursts with the light wind.
The chipped paint is hardly
noticeable from a distance,
or the words scrawled near the edges.
I have seen sometimes a cat shadow
the wall hunting birds.

A hundred yards away a man
in a yellow vest points a hose
and washes the ground where
the day before a boy
was killed.

The water will have dried by noon.
Yellow caution tape removed.

I work in a studio
dim and cool and quiet,
tucked in a windowless hallway
on the second floor in the center
of a building in the middle of
campus. In the control room
we are suspended, and separate.
In the studio all day
long computer screens flash
and beam out broadcasts to students—
huddled under blankets in dorm rooms,
sipping coffee in their cars, laptops
balanced on their knees,
or in a cubby, maybe, at the library,
watching with headphones—
wires strapped to the ground and hanging
coiled from the walls the conduit
for these streams, though who can say
what really happens between the wire
(physical) and the image (something not
physical)? There is some invisible leap
in logic or substance. But we see the
picture in the end.

I find it hard to keep myself
out of the scene, to speak
outside of my experience,
or to ignore a need to find
the things I should have looked at.
A negative-space record.
There is the thing that happened,
and there is what is left.
And there is also what I can see.
But what ends up here is something
else and I cannot tell
if there is some immorality in
speaking without being able to say
what I feel, or in imagining that
what I feel matters very much.
Who is the subject and object
when every act is collectivized
shared archived remixed
the wires so crossed like the
thickest tendons or
venison, bitter and stringy
between your teeth?
The fifth wall: a membrane:
a caul: a way to tell myself
this writing matters.

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