Dear misery,

I am sitting on the deck in the heat
that hasn’t dissolved yet though it is evening,
because I want to be in the open, away
from the smells of oil & frying in the kitchen
though this makes me fair game for Asian tiger
mosquitoes circling my ankles & arms
& the sides of my neck. I feel the grief
that comes not only from histories I could recite
even in my sleep, but also from the wreckage
of the future, whose foghorn sounds closer
& closer each night. I am reading a poem
by Alice Notley, which she ends by saying
I have nothing to show for my time but poems/
what do you have
… The pot of mint that survived
this brutal weather sends up its faint
sweet-pungent trail of breath & I don’t know
if it’s this which undoes me or if it’s those words.
& I don’t care anymore if this is cliché but my heart
is breaking & I wish the curtain of cicada trills
were thick enough for me to drown in. How sure
they seem of their purpose & how to accomplish it—
Wait years & years, spend it all on one thing,
then quit this earth— If I had their certainty
would I give up all I had too without
questioning? Now it gets close to the end
but my inventory is small; & it isn’t the kind
that could provide what others desperately
need or want. I am only one piece in a story
I don’t know the end or beginning of; I’m in a state
of perpetual second-guessing & if there’s anyone
who might know the answers, they’re long gone
from this world or maybe they were never here,
yet they’re always the first to pass judgment.

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