America’s Oldest Fridge Still Keeping Cool
The city is an open palm; the city is a fist.
Let’s twist again, like we did in our last
incarnation, twisting in the wind of After.
Life is not any sort of clever metaphor
but poetry makes it so. Make it so.
The city lists at its anchor but never tips.
I know resistance is futile, but it’s fuel, too,
until it runs out. Unsustainable! I don’t think
that word means what you think it means.
Wind & solar never betrayed the spy
that loved them. They keep the faith like
a cloud that’s a darker shade of blue
in a whiter sky. In a canyon, in a canyon,
Midtown Manhattan, eating a clementine
with sticky fingers, washing it down with
time. The city is a ruin full of ghosts
who are always ahead of you in line.
There’s always Before. There’s nothing,
nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing
but a boatload of Before, a bloated
crazy quilt of motley worn wherever
something’s born. Let’s twist again,
face the Muzak & trance. The city
is colony, collapse, disorder. The city
is a faded Sell By date.
Less Is More & Then It Goes Back to Being Less
What’s most simple is invariably most complex:
less is more, & then it goes back to being less.
The present is a gift, but the gift is not a present.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day
but how do you know when to look at it?
The mirrors are draped in black, & so are
the knives, the television, the chrome-lapped
Mixmaster, even the family silver—well,
what family still has silver? We thought
about burning the letters, then decided
better not write them in the first place.
The unexamined life is not worth living,
which makes it priceless. Reflection is a
Rolex—sorry, reflex. Look, you can see
yourself in it! & then you can’t.
That silver isn’t going to polish itself,
you know. These definitions are only
so elastic. Either they snap back or collapse
down brittle ankles like old nylon socks,
loose skins that can’t bear the touch of
skeletons. A polished bone never reflects.
A bone meets the wind, the rain, sunlight’s
whitening strips. A bone knows how to keep
the world at arm’s length. A bone is obvious,
a crashing more, & then it goes back,
goes back, goes back.
Betrayed by Ben Franklin
Everyone is either too real or not real at all,
slaves to ideas of self too difficult to sustain.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice, to which
you reply, It does if you’re a lightning rod.
But who can afford to be in one place these days?
Clouds gather. They’ve come to collect that debt,
the rain check you kited with a key attached.
You still don’t know what causes lightning,
or how sand becomes glass, but hey, take heart:
neither does anyone else. All around you, the city
becomes a field. Or was it always a field? Perhaps
that tree on the horizon (roots, branches forking,
as above, so below) will know what you can only
guess at: where fire comes from (Hint: It’s probably
an app). You tell yourself that you’re a self-made
woman, a self-made man. The lightning is coiled,
springs in a dirty mattress. Hardly anyone dies
from lightning strikes these days. It’s true,
you read it on the Internet. Is it discovery or
invention? Innovation or intervention? Is it
for this you went to bed early, & rose while
it was still dark? Is it for this you press
your face to the ground? Thunder says
what. What? What?
Gregory Crosby is the author of the forthcoming Walking Away from Explosions in Slow Motion (2018, The Operating System), and the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System) and The Book of Thirteen (2016, Yes Poetry); his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Leveler, Sink Review, Ping Pong, & Hyperallergic. He teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.