Getting Out (8)

Robert Lietz

Who would have called such motion exercise
and made a little of it, wrapping himself

in wool and warmed-over espresso, a lifetime
stretched by invitations to rose light?

Room to room, he makes his mind in being here,
under-recognized, he thinks, attending

his guests as if he were the one to be invited,
were worth their interest,

bringing the likes of these from groves, a people
he believes from brigand enterprise,

better not to touch. And so a man negotiates,
and so he calculates their needs

and attitudes toward linens, having himself been there
before the face of officers,

pleading the seasons spilled, and the inversions
of spring stars, fumbling on account,

made bold as much by misdirection as by flash-cards,
and by these lethal parities, hor d'oeuvres,

walking the ways they walk, a man who's found
another way among apartments,

his pockets drawn again with cash and influence.
The faces he adapts could be his own or anyone's,

having experience to pay, straight from the heart
of anyplace, from field stints and ruins,

hay-lit inaugurals, the faces he might adapt
in suffering his footwear, the holes

and strings made do, times slender and the like,
and now the raw materials, even in truth

unable to tell, to whisper his needs and theirs
and their indifference at confession,

to say which brighter burn or umbrage
smokes to clarify.


And none of this that did not happen did.


And now he looks across linked yards, their prince
and criminal, following glove leather

and plunge, banging the earth from soles,
hoping to hold a little ground

and not to wake the sleepers: He'll drop that hundred
anyway, believing the boney palm

was warm and lovely once, a field of light and lines,
suspensions blankly personal, crowding

the keno boards, and come to something after all,
as the dark intensifies, and private overtures,

as deep as shade allows, exert a working influence,
finding the scrapwood squared and stacked

behind that gutted farm, seeing the shoulder
lowered or lifting up what else,

the spindles laying shade in shapes of spindles
over porchboards, meaning

a business anywhere, a work outside the range
of the casino, the range

of rifts and candlelight, and now beyond
the sweeps of bluest turbulents.

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Published in association with the University of Pennsylvania Writers House
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