End of the Century
We’ve slept too long, and that hasn’t stopped the incidental warping—
constellations crossing, new diamond-scratch on glass.
Radio jumps off the bedstand. No one
can hear or see, as the Ramones hammer
in the background their future, our present alarm.
You were a Japanese print of stars before there were blocks of wood,
a satellite before legs, a second of parallax before any ticks were biting.
I love the short form of you, though no one keeps
time anymore, no one can say whose clouds
have stolen the stellar normal curves. Darling,
I remember now. I was supposed to report
on goats and goat paths in Eden. To trace wrens’ flitting
at the motionless peripheries. To stop
the briefest minute as it shrinks like a tide.
I have known so much less than awareness asked of me.
Seaweed in the astral sea looks everywhere
to find the light in which it swims.
A lovely, lamented oilslick rocks,
rocks at star-set. The Great Bear will soon bash
a bird feeder off its pole, causing a supernova of sunflower seeds.
But nothing arrives as gears and maps predict. Nothing rings
bright or smooth. I was supposed to report
that the universe is kinked, resistance
is the lark song that estranges us from C,
and there isn’t any scratch we could call a note.
I was supposed to record a tuna’s blue thrashing
in the foam of a soundless, television storm.
Wasps fly at our teeth, but miss and freak the screen.
It is beautiful to hear the sparks before we see them
in a window—in the window, our window-selves.
Paul Nemser’s book Taurus (2013) won the New American Poetry Prize, and his chapbook of prose poems Tales of the Tetragrammaton was published in 2014. His poems appear widely in magazines such as AGNI and London Review of Books. A poem commended in the 2014 National Poetry Competition in the UK, and a short film made from the poem, appear on the website for The Poetry Society. Nemser lives with his wife Rebecca in Cambridge, MA, and Harborside, ME.