Ars Poetica

On the subway, passing through Prospect Park,

Adam shows me the app he has most recently

pioneered on his iPhone: You are a prince

on a quest to restore the night palace

of stars that once shone like steel sinks—

the moon now only its skinny shadow.

Your father, King of All Cosmos,

weeping for what his tin fist, his love

of rice wine, destroyed accidentally.

They call you katamari as in clump spirit.

And the objects that adhere to you—watermelon,

umbrellas, unoccupied vans, a Ferris wheel—

are the same debris that will relight

the constellations. It is as if atonement

were merely a thing to be acquired

after awhile. Is it any wonder they say poetry

can save our lives? Last spring, in the back

of the Rotunda, a girl with hair dyed the color

of pond koi called across the hall and told me

Charles Wright is taking a piss in there

if you have something you want to say to him.

I have dedicated my life to this: the messy

patchworking, clotbur, hook and eye, glue

gun. Sticking words to myself, to others,

to the blue autopsy we call air or water.

Did I press my hand to the underscore of metal

that was the door handle? Did I hold my breath

as if this were my first time transgressing

the men’s room? No. There is always someone

who senses our work—as Michiru, the daughter

of the astronaut, knows in her coursing ichor

that Cassiopeia has returned to its rightful

place. The prince in his magnet-machine, rolling

on and on through the deserted streets of our city.

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