The New Me
The moon is the best tombstoneI know, the least horrible one,and the sun wants toburn everything down,
so it’s only for the greatfrigid distances of spacethat we survive at all.
Underneath the letters of each stop signyou find an inscrutablediamond-image that bleats andtells you it’s too late.
What sad songs lurk in the vacuumed carpet.What silky math tricked youinto that binary dead-alive.
But do you ever have that day whenyou rise up in a strange room,and all the threads hooked into youvanish, a sail without a boatlifting up in a rustling likepigeons off an old man’s body?
When a man sets his own houseon fire with a lighter and breath freshenerhe’s not trying to speed up time,he’s trying to molt. [End Page 612]
So too when I’m barefoot sprayingWindex into the dark of amplifiersor menacing birds by flappingmy ugly stick-arms,
I’m trying to brandish a new melike a toy pistol straight fromthe factory, ripped from the packaging.
Bang! says the little white flag.You’re somebody else.
The parking lot lights shinesuccessively in on the taxidermizedwhite tiger and badger and puma
locked in their advanced positionsof fury, of formaldehyde,with marbles laid over their scooped
out eye-spaces, orbiting the bedsteadof the old hunter-man who moved intothis nursing home totally
healthy to make catcalls andsob to the nurses about his lovefor himself.
Here you must followa quarter mile of neonsigns to the egress
where the healthier old wanderback and forth along glass corridorsbiting their nails, [End Page 613]
their various ailments containedperfectly by bodies which arethemselves contained perfectly by the
building shaped to their wanderingslike the grains inside a rainsticksliding forth, sliding back.
It is not really a home butyou will never leave this place whereyou peer from the high
one-way mirror into an outsidewhere the pigeons and onehefty bag line a telephone pole
and lean off intoa distance you cannot seeinto, into which they fling
their raptor-bodies, tinybut with such deft hungerlike a pro unhooking all
the buttons from a cocktail waitress’shirt, in a single musical gesture—like notes—as evening unravels and spills
its stale, defunct beautyover that empty lot, full oftree shadows, and stains us with its orange
and pinks whose promiseof romance keeps everyone aliveand unfulfilled. [End Page 614]
Adam Scheffler is the author of A Dog’s Life, Jacar Press, 2016, which was selected by Denise Duhamel as the winner of the Jacar Press Full-Length Poetry Book Contest. He grew up in California, received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently working on finishing his Ph.D. in English at Harvard. His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Rattle, North American Review, Colorado Review and many other journals.