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   t r a n s l a t i o n    a t    n i n e    a .m.

--- C L A Y   M A T T H E W S

Bring the morning to a boil and by suppertime

you will have something on which to chew.

When the sun comes through the shades

the shades have nothing to say about prison

except imagine if we turned the lines

the other way. Everyone would be climbing

then, instead of staring at the shadowed inscription

of vertical lines on their chests, lines

that reach up and blanket the eyes, and through

optical illusion or reality appear to go on

forever. There was a dog in a pin and it yelped

until the sun went down. There was a man

in a pin who yelped only in the darkness.

In this manner the source of the voice appears

to be nothing or the darkness. And if you're reading

me as I think you are, you understand

that weather systems are nothing more

than gigantic prison bars. There I go again

supplying industrial metaphor to the natural

landscape. It always seemed metaphor was supposed

to work the other way. My heart is a willow tree.

My eyes the cool brown puddles. And prison, friends,

is nothing more than finding your way into a cave

which then appears to have no way out.

I resist these temptations, but if the devil dared me

to jump, I'm not sure I wouldn't ask how high.

The meaning of my meaning rests somewhere

around the mean of our collective experience.

If I am average than it is our average. A bird

once told me that life is nothing more

than a small cage that encompasses the end

of what is imaginable. And when the bird

stopped speaking she flew away into the morning,

which was a space between me and a tree line

in the distance, until she was gone even beyond

that space, and I could see nothing more.

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