Paula Cisewski

Unbeckoning Glass and Time Faking Surprises
December 18, 2022 Cisewski Paula


       –after the painting of that title by Agnes Martin


This color is exhaled smoke from a bummed cigarette, a stray cloud for the sky.
The color of adjoining rooms and is the door chained on the other side.
Outside the two soaked bars of this color, a lighter gray lives, like the invisible
sun wants to peek through all the marginalia of love.
Two people are having a talk they already had in this color.
A lot of pauses around the rain which erupts in this color.
And time builds its promise towers in the fog of this color.
Revoked words live inside the eraser smudge of this color.
This color is dusk. Many people feel unsettled by dusk.
Give us day or night; I can’t be inside my own skin
in the gloaming when our shadow selves get all their big ideas.
The gaze of this color is a soft equal sign. Two twin beds childish or sexless as graves.
The conversation performed in this color harkens back to what’s unlovable.
The performance of the original wound as general malaise.
This color wants to touch itself or is that the other?
Either way there’s no touching in this color except by this color.
Two people are still having a talk they already had in this color.
What kind of color protects possibilities from coming into focus
by bending light into mirages. Mirages are the thirst and TV
snow of this color, and the apartment walls you’ll lose your security
deposit if you paint. This color has the acoustics of packing
paper, a ghost’s idea of home. This color is the God of Double
Negatives. The God of Stiff Equivalence. The God of
Blowing Dust Bunnies out from Under our Beds.





It’s never not time’s birthday.
Time frosting one side of the moon with light.
Time licking light off the other side of the moon.
Time everywhere and nowhere like that jealous monotheistic god who keeps you waiting outside the funeral parlor in the rain.
The power cuts out in a storm. Fear and relief. The stove clock quits blinking at you for once.
That one kid who can’t fall asleep at the slumber party? That kid’s staring at the inky ceiling of time.
Time borrowing my fogged-up glasses. The prescription’s outdated.
Time dragging its best Ziggy Stardust bolt across we should be home by now.
Put a votive candle in a paper boat and set it afloat down the night river. That diminishing flicker of light is not time.
Time picking at an iceberg lettuce wedge, such a disinterested blind date.
Time all during the rising action tying your bootlaces together.
Time flashing its prurient wombtomb at everyone while everyone makes small talk and looks at our shoes.
Time’s drunk in its rustic shed while some perennials come in nicely.
You say I’m in love with you to a clock, and the clock says it’s 2:30. Don’t let time break your heart.
Time’s not a clock. Time’s a gate we can’t find because we’ve found it. We’re still walking through it. Time seems like forever. It’s a blizzard.
Time dreaming again of waking in the back seat of a moving car, no one at the wheel.
Time distracting itself from the enormity of itself by doom-scrolling Elon Musk news.
You think you’re alone in your bed? You’re not. You sleep with time.
Too many perfectly ripe strawberries for one person. That’s just like time.
Time catching itself in the mirror and shedding a tear, still as beautiful as ever.
The past, the present, the future, the never: time’s eternal barber shop quartet.
Try to put time away for an hour. What did you put away?
A weed, a seed, a need, a hunger without greed. Four of these things are not time.
Time arrived sealed in a pink envelope you didn’t open until I was gone.
Most of time’s jokes are only funny to time.
My ear to time’s chest: sound of the Milky Way thundering.
Time finally asks for help blowing the infinite candles out.

Paula Cisewski‘s fourth poetry collection, Quitterwon the Diode Editions Book Prize. She is also the author of The Threatened EverythingGhost Fargo (Nightboat Poetry Prize winner, selected by Franz Wright), Upon Arrival, and several chapbooks. Her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and included in the anthologies Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics, 78: A Tarot Anthology, Rocked by the Waters: Poems of Motherhood, Rewilding: Poems for the Environment, and New Poetry from the Midwest. She lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches writing privately and academically and makes things at Yew Who Studio and Beauty School Press.