090.3: Rusty Morrison & John Gallaher:: [First to Last] pt. 3 090

A “Model of Leptons” Might Be a Yodel of Met-Ones

If you’d said “yodel,” not “model,”
I’d have thought the bird in your “little birdcage”
would be the one singing it,

before you admitted you’d probably lost the cage.
How quickly things change
from one weightless
line-break to the next.

There probably wasn’t any bird anyway.
Weightless as all our little parakeet-cage kinds of disappearances
must remain, these days,
even among friends.

I had to look up “leptons,” having forgotten (again)
what it means.
“Subatomic particles that don’t take part in
a strong interaction.”

Does admitting that I forgot
add in more weight? or less?
Have I weakened the interaction sufficiently?

“Behind the things we say are people
moving back and forth, carrying each other.”

Can I love you for that?

Behind the people we say
we are
is there anything left to carry? Is there anything 
still moving us?

Will you still be there, behind it all, to carry me,
if I ask?

Thanks for taking me to the restaurant in Chicago.
Between the moment the photo was framed
and the shot was taken,
I could disappear
without even having to feel the table fly,
the plate glass explode.

Readers are lucky that way, aren’t we?
Something like leptons.
At least, we start out
thinking this. But the poem
knows better,
doesn’t it?

Another of the Skills the Weather Exhibits

When you mention how quickly things change
it’s years later, and the guards and the inmates
are posing together for a photograph. “Convicts”
someone directs as they’re shuffling, and
“inmates” someone corrects. There’s no telling
where anyone’s standing, however,
as the island (this is Alcatraz) erases perspective
the longer one stares at it. Some are laughing
and some aren’t. Does it matter,
when this is not the kind of sky that listens or carries?

Saying something might be the only reason to,
which presupposes an uncertain amount
of forgiveness. You remember what you think
about, the saying goes. Therefore,
one should be reading widely
and thinking about as much as possible. About
being operative. And how effortless
it can seem sometimes. He ain’t heavy, the song goes,
he’s just another Bird Man, or whatever,
being taken away. Trust me
because it would be fun to be trusted. “There probably
wasn’t any bird anyway,” you remind me,
and you’re probably right. It was long ago.

Certainly there’s a question in there,
even if there’s no money in it. More “experimental”
than “mainstream,” but why? Here’s the
forgetting experiment, we can call it
Jesus and the Volcano, as a form of empty
thinking. I feel you’re standing at a window when you say
that the thing knows better, but how
are we to know? It’s the same as sitting next
to a couple men in their eighties talking about
robbing banks. One of them did it
but now that’s a version of accepting the unknown
which can often feel like you’re wishing
for bad things to happen.

We Make As Much of Language Habitable As We Can

Exploring the limit of a “forgetting experiment,”
I might find that its wire fence
is weak and rusted.
But you’ve reminded me
it will still be barbed. The guards seem kind
in the pose
you sent me, but that’s just
my perspective
Until I see that my habit of hopefulness
is only 
another form of erasure.
“Convicts” must be the ones with irrevocable ‘convictions’.
Thank you
for that warning. “Inmates” then,
I’ll call us, instead. ‘Mates’ for the moment of ‘in’-wardness
when we both recognize in the pose
there’s a “no telling”
right there
“where anyone is standing,”
which moves outward in all directions at once
from the poem I want to make of it.
When inhabiting language, there’s always a peak out of reach
that even the mountain goats
can’t get to. Goats
gauge altitude’s evasiveness
instinctively, and avoid places
where they can’t make a mirror-match
between the steady light in the sky above them
and the lightness
of their hooves on a precipice
of shifting stone.