In City Parks, In the Sour Void
I am seven skulls screaming
about seven smaller screaming skulls.
Please take my boney hand
& Celine Dion my sinking ship.
Near the capharnum of microplastics
an animal vigils a similar corpse.
By 25 I had figured out fire
but not much else: maybe anatomy
for interior designers, how to schedule
an unaffiliated neurotrama consultant.
On night ops from null, a prereq
for the living arts, I remember
how payphones once told us
to wait and listen. Meanwhile, we dig.
New Age Downloads
The city stares, the state tunes in.
What’s most sharable is born
on chyron crawls or in the initial pause
of an unplanned voicemail. The bent
license plate from a Peugeot Citroën
speeds through early sprawl
bolted to another car.
For many years I didn’t want anyone
to know when I slept. If they telephoned
early, I’d act awake. Technically, I was.
But there is shame in doing what bodies
do; a shame in their numbers.
Thanks to the Plastic Age Anniversary,
everyone can control-f their codenames
through any number of relevant leaks.
We hallucinate multiple doppelgängers.
We come alive in pools of cherry-
picked queries, tout de suite.
I grasp a sack of hot fries and watch
a longish Elliot Gould medium shot
on a silent screen at the thruway plaza.
I wait for something to load.
A purported crisis actor arrives in a Cutlass
to paint my portrait out of focus;
I pose in front of a Quartet whiteboard
simply dripping with psychedelic riddles.
Who erased The Basement Tapes?
Who’ll powerwash the tennis courts?
Who pulled back the blackout drapes?
Who’ll re-reinvent motorsports?
North Texas is our secret handshake:
Remember Love Field? I blurt for cred.
Next time, I’m going to collect my personal
effects from the rental car with authority;
I’m told I’ve got a collector’s eye.
I leave footprints in foam and sea oats.
I destroy the oldest dunes. After seven years,
I hear a woman whisper I’m finally sick
enough to go in front of the board.
So there was a dustup re: corpse paint. Or a
souvenir from Biosphere II. We know what’s
saved because it has a name. We don’t know
who saved it, because he logged out.
We notice a new glow from the neighbors:
a glimpse of their exotic fish tank.
At midday, they inform for the beat cop
whose mother used to live next door.
Watch me showroom some new headphones.
Watch me bankroll a bombastic void. I only ask
that you alert the appropriate authorities
if you’re the one whose new tattoo alone
is supposed to remind us to breathe.
Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His recent work appears in publications including Vinyl, Nine Mile Magazine, Posit, and Bennington Review. His chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize. He edits Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics and is the hands behind typewriter.city. Find him at patrickwilliamsintext.com and on Twitter @activitystory.
featured image: Bob Modem