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Five Poems, by Micah Zevin


Gravitas, an oval shape.

We partially shot our windows, our idiot boxes
so we don’t see your faces. The crisis game is to wall off the brain.
We make vows we cannot keep about refunding your truths, your votes,
your demonstrations. Apparent suicide not as rare or in rows as (one) (you)
would think. We are driven by price to innovate using the black market
where we may get burned. Price, driven by the mood swings of the greedy.
We are fatal, a snail smear asking for money-for-now, not now,
not the last of his kind yet. Galactic collision, black hole, Milky Way,
we will be dead long before you are. Nature dictates, plumbs new depths of rain and snow and meth done in well-lit rooms or dark alleyways. We should not have Fit-bit fits nor resolutions. Only bring what’s necessary to the sample sale, synthetic drug users
of superhuman strength and delusion (confusion) (contusion). We are our own biggest lies, flies on the wall, who drink mud like we drink coffee. Toast, I am, (you are) (we are) toast, tired of being roasted and captured for less than our elegance and wild beauty. Hallelujah! We are or can be fireworks who, frequently going out, need life-
saving money for groceries with zero-waste. In memorials, we talk
about you, all our stressed out asses hanging out, with our stories of stupid things
stupid patrons said or did at the Reference Desk or Cyber-center.


Interrogations of Selves

Are you going to touch me?
Are you going to interrupt,
my constitution, inside and out?
What is authentic, beauty? Are you going
to sail around the world to learn
about all our tribes and
watch the oceans unfurl before
our eyes? Are you going to get off
the couch and stop staring at your phone?
What if I pull the plug or offer a ham
bone soup or a plan, a plain old-fashioned
coup? What is a hitchhiker? Where and who
are our citizens? Life is spectacular or
supposed to be. Have you ever peered through
the telescope during moonlight, like Copernicus,
Galileo and thought of both the mysticism
and the science? If life is a sinkhole are you
watching in a cracked bowl? Are you going to
shoot even if I raise my hands?—

Do you want to touch me?
Why are you on top of me,
when my hands are behind
my back while I am on the
ground, when I can’t even hear
the breeze? Why does the air sound
like cracking concrete? What is
rumbling at my feet? Can (you) (we)
go beyond wealth to build everyone
a roof and shelves? Do you have memories
of chains in thoughts, pictures, and actions?
Are you going to touch me? Are you a spell?
Can you fell a tree? Can you migrate like a
bird but in the best ship, not treated like cargo
or a prisoner? Are you afraid of my touch?
Are you an absent or an all too present boss?
Do you mistake obsessive passion for mental illness?

How can we know the difference? When all are
serene and unassuming and speak in dulcet tones
and not in shotgun-speak? Are you a recipe?
Do you like to invent your own sauces? Do you
stir and fry? Have parts of earth become more
like Mars? Will we all tragically disappear and
not just in the winds, in the deserts? Are you going
to touch me? Will you continue to interrupt me?
What has happened to our celebrations or
joy? Why is empathy the best medicine
to recover from slumping over in a chair,
a disease bringing you to your knees?
Is life a spelling bee and are we merely winding
down to the finish line not even bothering to take
our temperatures, or should we continue to
follow the sun and seek out the flowers, fruits, the
blood for the planet, even the thrill of defeat,
which should be a learning experience and not on
repeat, not weaponized, like our words. Are you going
to touch me?—


My Wounds Have a Message (The Toxic Truth Soothsayer)

My wounds have a message.
If you see spies
splash water on your eyes
and look again out the window
with binoculars as if at the birds.
If you hear a humming you might
be bugged or not, but do not
worry about the fires to come.
It may be paranoia.
Have a cup of chamomile tea.
The playbook of your worry newsfeed
is constant upsets, not sore
throats and sentences with the
word “death” in them and headlines
continuing to damage hearts and eat
package after package of Life Savers,
your sugar addiction fever no longer
undiagnosed as the poor often are when it’s

My wounds have a message.
They plead with you to make
top secret friends so that the
contamination can end,
all that is out of whack
technological and political.
I am not contaminated, right?
I am not made out of high fructose corn syrup,
hydrogenated oils, MSG (and) (more)
(other acronyms turning us a dark orange shade),
too many carbs, the wrong carbs, too much sugar,
not enough sugar, a list of greens I’ve missed
saying what’s the best kind, whether broccoli,
cauliflower, nuts, blueberries, or other combos.

My wounds have a message.
They are not saying you will no longer
have a long ass commute, or super high
energy bills, or neighbor children
who seem to be climbing and banging walls
simultaneously, and keeping their bright lights on
all night in living room and kitchen.
I am not a curator but my accumulated
cuts and burns and scrapes have been told they build
character when I know they are characters,
and get ornery when not stretched out or recognized.
At night, I don’t come alive but keep calm if sleepy
during the everyday endless days risking mania and
delirium, even psychosis pushed up against metal poles.
How does fascism work when the improbable fall
and these palaces, these truths we take for granted
vanish as the heartland vanishes.
I haven’t recently taken an oath,
yet I’m not a rule maker or breaker or
try not to become transformed or shaped by them.
Sometimes, my mind’s microprocessor’s wishes
I were a puppet or a sculptor or farmable land.


The earlier I have to wake up before sunrise the weirder my dreams I don’t remember seem to be…

I am the tiny ground shaking alarms.
I am made of sugar.
I am dreams about how I fail.
I am a scalding cup of coffee.
I am the sharpest largest pencil.
I am the most awkward of cheers.
I am almost out of aluminum foil.
I am about ready to pop the boil.
I am a human rock.
I am a bad photo I want to crop.


Document #15: The Present Future Past

The magic seeks private care and truckloads of ambition.
Crusaders were islands unto themselves until their time ran out.
Did their offensive comments become too offensive or did they embarrass? –
The powers-that-be pressured into slaps on the wrists.
Are we lost in dreams of time or puppets hanging from wires?
Big brands don’t struggle to resolve fears behind plastic waste.
Is a head on a spike imminent as the shutdown lingers?

The magic seeks private care and truckloads of ambition
not picket lines under rainy skies but it will not get it.
Are we lost in dreams of time or puppets hanging from wires.
Paradise is a simmering campfire about to go inferno.
Transparent drones don’t moan and work all night and all day.
They land on tiny desks and ignore cruelty.
Chaos is utterly exhausting for admirers of rare books
about to vanish with the memories of our discoveries.
Are we hyper-allergic and instant and expecting?

The magic seeks private care and truckloads of ambition.
Are we lost in dreams of time or puppets hanging from wires?


  • Micah Zevin is the author of Metal, Heavy. His writing has also appeared in Big Other, Poetry and Politics, Reality Beach, the American Journal of Poetry, Five2OneMagazine, Maudlin House, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere. He curates the Risk of Discovery Reading Series in Woodside, Queens, N.Y.

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